Politics, Moderate



Moby-Dick and the whale's tale of America's destiny

Esther J. Cepeda on

To recap: Moby-Dick is really lengthy, excruciatingly thorough and sometimes trippy. Many have avoided it like the plague for a lifetime.

However, as Philbrick puts it, "Melville's example demonstrates the wisdom of waiting to read the classics. Coming to a great book on your own after having accumulated essential life experience can make all the difference."

Philbrick concludes that, "Instead of being a page-turner, the book is a repository not only of American history and culture but also of the essentials of Western literature."

After my third reading, I concur. But more so than that, "Moby-Dick" is actually entertaining and enjoyable. You get through interminable descriptions of whale types and whale oils and are eventually rewarded with drama, action, and the death-bed poetry of a mercurial sea captain.

Sure, once the marathon nearly ends and you're relieved to finally arrive at the iconic line, "There she blows," you may find yourself wishing that Captain Ahab would shake his angry fist and yell "You'll never ... Sink! This! Boat!" at old Moby in much the same way his doppelganger, Lieutenant Dan, did in "Forrest Gump."

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But I bet you won't be disappointed about who gets to swim another day.


Esther Cepeda's email address is estherjcepeda@washpost.com.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group


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