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Herman Melville quotes Showing 1-30 of 1,640

“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.”
Herman Melville
“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I'll go to it laughing.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, the Whale
“A smile is the chosen vehicle of all ambiguities.”
Herman Melville, Pierre; or, The Ambiguities
“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”
Herman Melville
“I do not think I have any uncharitable prejudice against the rattlesnake, still, I should not like to be one.”
Herman Melville
“It is not down on any map; true places never are.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, the Whale
“Better to sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunk Christian.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, the Whale
“As for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, the Whale
“Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well- warmed, and well-fed.”
Herman Melville
“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing 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.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
“There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody's expense but his own.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
“I try all things, I achieve what I can.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, the Whale
“I would prefer not to.”
Herman Melville, Bartleby the Scrivener
“Ignorance is the parent of fear.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, the Whale
“Consider the subtleness of the sea; how its most dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the most part, and treacherously hidden beneath the loveliest tints of azure. Consider also the devilish brilliance and beauty of many of its most remorseless tribes, as the dainty embellished shape of many species of sharks. Consider, once more, the universal cannibalism of the sea; all whose creatures prey upon each other, carrying on eternal war since the world began.

Consider all this; and then turn to the green, gentle, and most docile earth; consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself? For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half-known life. God keep thee! Push not off from that isle, thou canst never return!”
Herman Melville, Moby Dick
“Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I'd strike the sun if it insulted me.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, the Whale
“For there is no folly of the beast of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men.”
Herman Melville
“...to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, the Whale
“...and Heaven have mercy on us all - Presbyterians and Pagans alike - for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending.”
Herman Melville, Moby Dick
“Call me Ishmael.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, the Whale
“A man thinks that by mouthing hard words he understands hard things. ”
Herman Melville
“I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts.”
Herman Melville
“Human madness is oftentimes a cunning and most feline thing. When you think it fled, it may have but become transfigured into some still subtler form.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, the Whale
“There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar.”
Herman Melville, Moby Dick
“Who in the rainbow can draw the line where the violet tint ends and the orange tint begins? Distinctly we see the difference of the colors, but where exactly does the one first blendingly enter into the other? So with sanity and insanity.”
Herman Melville, Billy Budd, Sailor
“Think not, is my eleventh commandment; and sleep when you can, is my twelfth.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, the Whale
“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. Me thinks my body is but the lees of my better being. In fact take my body who will, take it I say, it is not me.”
Herman Melville, Moby Dick
“It is the easiest thing in the world for a man to look as if he had a great secret in him.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
“To enjoy bodily warmth, some small part of you must be cold, for there is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself. If you flatter yourself that you are all over comfortable, and have been so a long time, then you cannot be said to be comfortable any more. For this reason a sleeping apartment should never be furnished with a fire, which is one of the luxurious discomforts of the rich. For the height of this sort of deliciousness is to have nothing but the blanket between you and your snugness and the cold of the outer air. Then there you lie like the one warm spark in the heart of an arctic crystal.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, the Whale
“Truth uncompromisingly told will always have its jagged edges.”
Herman Melville, Billy Budd, Sailor and Other Uncompleted Writings

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Moby-Dick or, the Whale Moby-Dick or, the Whale
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Bartleby the Scrivener Bartleby the Scrivener
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Billy Budd, Sailor Billy Budd, Sailor
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Benito Cereno Benito Cereno
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