Call me witty.
Call me wise.
Call me philosophical.
Call me believer.
Call me infidel.
Call me sarcastic.
Call me observant.
Call me Ishmael.
I’ve started reading Melville’s Moby Dick and I think Ishmael will become one of my favorite characters. So far, I think he is the best side-kick/narrator I’ve experienced since Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby. I say “since” because I read Gatsby a long time ago and am just now reading Moby Dick. I realize that the chronological order in which the two novels were published is reversed.
In the short amount of time I’ve been reading the novel, I’ve come across some great quotations by Ishmael. Such as this one in which he comments on the hypocrisy of those who try to paint money in an evil light:
But being paid, – what will compare with it? The urbane activity with which man receives money is really marvelous, considering that we so earnestly believe money to be the root of earthly ills, and that on no account can a monied man enter heaven. Ah! how cheerfully we consign ourselves to perdition!
Here’s one that I think I will be quoting often:
Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian.
As a whaler, he’s familiar with the dangers of the job but seems to take it in stride (methinks):
Yes, there is death in this business of whaling – a speechlessly quick chaotic bundling of a man into Eternity. But what then? Methinks we have hugely mistaken this matter of Life and Death. Methinks that what they call my shadow here on earth is my true substance. Methinks that in looking at things spiritual, we are too much like oysters observing the sun through the water, and thinking that thick water the thinnest of air.
Look for more posts about this novel. I’m on chapter 9 out of 135. The chapters are short by most standards, though. I’m looking forward to the rest of them.