I finished reading MOBY-DICK yesterday, after twelve years of trying. Here are my two favorite parts. First, an warning from Ishmael against hiring dreamy young philosophers for lookouts:
And let me in this place movingly admonish you, ye ship-owners of Nantucket! Beware of enlisting in your vigilant fisheries any lad with lean brow and hollow eye; given to unseasonable meditativeness; and who offers to ship with the Phaedon instead of Bowditch in his head. Beware of such an one, I say: your whales must be seen before they can be killed, and this sunken-eyed young Platonist will tow you ten wakes round the world, and never make you one pint of sperm the richer.
(Chapter 35: The Mast-Head)
And, of course, this:
To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though there be many who have tried it.
(Chapter 104: The Fossil Whale)
I don’t know how I have survived this long without having the ending spoiled for me. But I’m glad I have. It was a wonderful surprise.