Saturday, July 5, 2008

Call me Ishmael

Started reading Moby Dick a few days ago and was surprised to find that Herman Melville had a great sense of humour. I thought he would be all serious and difficult to read. (I also mistakenly thought he was British, so I've clearly got a lot to learn.) Here's an excerpt from page one:

"Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself pausing involuntarily before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball." [31, CRW Publishing]

Ha ha, I like this guy. The narrator introduces himself and tells his reader that a while ago he was bored and depressed, and, as he always does whenever he feels like this, he goes to sea to "sail about a little and see the watery part of the world." That does sound like a great way to rejuvenate the soul. Makes me wish I owned a yacht.

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