Call me Ishmael.
You just read one of the most recognizable first lines in all literature opening one of the most immersive and rewarding reads there is. But what’s the big deal? Why read it? Here’s why. Moby Dick sprawls across the pages, from New Bedford to the South Seas and from a hopeful beginning to a disastrous end. Its language is monumental, springing from the biblical and Shakespearean texts that were Herman Melville’s cultural foundation. Its characters, Ahab, Ishmael, Starbuck, Queequeg, Tashtego, Pip, are fully alive and compelling and, to use an anachronistic word, diverse. The discursive chapters on whales and whaling draw you into
world and way of life that’s lost. The whale itself is a force of nature, both aggressor and aggressed against.
First published in 1851, Herman Melville created Moby Dick out of his own experiences as a sailor in