Melville Quotes

Quotes tagged as "melville" Showing 1-30 of 31
Herman Melville
“I would prefer not to.”
Herman Melville, Bartleby the Scrivener

Ray Bradbury
“Think of Shakespeare and Melville and you think of thunder, lightning, wind. They all knew the joy of creating in large or small forms, on unlimited or restricted canvases. These are the children of the gods.”
Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

Herman Melville
“Ahab is for ever Ahab, man. This whole act's immutably decreed. 'Twas rehearsed by thee and me a billion years before this ocean rolled. Fool! I am the Fates' lieutenant, I act under orders.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, the Whale

Herman Melville
“So true it is, and so terrible, too, that up to a certain point the thought or sight of misery enlists our best affections; but, in certain special cases, beyond that point it does not. they err who would assert that invariable this is owing to the inherent selfishness of the human heart. It rather proceeds from a certain hopelessness of remedying excessive and organic ill. To a sensitive being, pity is not seldom pain. An when at last it is perceived that such pity cannot lead to effectual succor, common sense bides the soul be rid of it.”
Herman Melville, Bartleby the Scrivener

Eric Jay Dolin
“The heroic and often tragic stories of American whalemen were renowned. They sailed the world’s oceans and brought back tales filled with bravery, perseverance, endurance, and survival. They mutinied, murdered, rioted, deserted, drank, sang, spun yarns, scrimshawed, and recorded their musings and observations in journals and letters. They survived boredom, backbreaking work, tempestuous seas, floggings, pirates, putrid food, and unimaginable cold. Enemies preyed on them in times of war, and competitors envied them in times of peace. Many whalemen died from violent encounters with whales and from terrible miscalculations about the unforgiving nature of nature itself. And through it all, whalemen, those “iron men in wooden boats” created a legacy of dramatic, poignant, and at times horrific stories that can still stir our emotions and animate the most primal part of our imaginations. “To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme,” proclaimed Herman Melville, and the epic story of whaling is one of the mightiest themes in American history.”
Eric Jay Dolin, Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America

Jacob M. Appel
“To the bankrupt poet, to the jilted lover, to anyone who yearns to elude the doubt within and the din without, the tidal strait between Manhattan Island and her favorite suburb offers the specious illusion of easy death. Melville prepared for the plunge from the breakwater on the South Street promenade, Whitman at the railing of the outbound ferry, both men redeemed by some Darwinian impulse, maybe some epic vision, which enabled them to change leaden water into lyric wine. Hart Crane rejected the limpid estuary for the brackish swirl of the Caribbean Sea. In each generation, from Washington Irving’s to Truman Capote’s, countless young men of promise and talent have examined the rippling foam between the nation’s literary furnace and her literary playground, questioning whether the reams of manuscript in their Brooklyn lofts will earn them garlands in Manhattan’s salons and ballrooms, wavering between the workroom and the water. And the city had done everything in its power to assist these men, to ease their affliction and to steer them toward the most judicious of decisions. It has built them a bridge.”
Jacob M. Appel, The Biology of Luck

Herman Melville
“Now the various species of whales need some sort of popular comprehensive classification, if only an easy outline one for the present, hereafter to be filled in all its departments by subsequent laborers. As no better man advances to take this matter in hand, I hereupon offer my own poor endeavors. I promise nothing complete; because any human thing supposed to be complete, must for that very reason infallibly be faulty. I shall not pretend to a minute anatomical description of the various species, or - in this place at least - to much of any description. My object here is simply to project the draught of a systematization of cetology. I am the architect, not the builder. (moby dick chap 32 p131)”
Herman Melville

Herman Melville
“There is no dignity in wickedness, whether in purple or rags; and hell is a democracy of devils, where all are equals.”
Herman Melville

Herman Melville
“Call me Ishmael. Some years ago--never mind how long precisely--having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. 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. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, the Whale

Herman Melville
“How I snuffed that Tartar air!--how I spurned that turnpike earth!--that common highway all over dented with the marks of slavish heels and hoofs; and turned me to admire the magnanimity of the sea which will permit no records.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, the Whale

Herman Melville
“Of erections how few are domed like St. Peter's! of creatures, how few vast as the whale!”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, the Whale

Robert  Stone
“But Moby-Dick is the explanation of America. It’s not just a novel. It is a book of prophecy. It is the book. It is the book of America.”
Robert Stone

Herman Melville
“They have provided a system which for terse comprehensiveness surpasses Justinian's Pandects and the By-laws of the Chinese Society for the Suppression of Meddling with other People's Business.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, the Whale

Herman Melville
“It was while gliding through these latter waters that one serene and moonlight night, when all the waves rolled by like scrolls of silver; and, by their soft, suffusing seethings, made what seemed a silvery silence, not a solitude; on such a silent night a silvery jet was seen far in advance of the white bubbles at the bow. Lit up by the moon, it looked celestial; seemed some plumed and glittering god uprising from the sea. Fedallah first descried this jet. For of these moonlight nights, it was his wont to mount to the main-mast head, and stand a look-out there, with the same precision as if it had been day. And yet, though herds of whales were seen by night, not one whaleman in a hundred would venture a lowering for them. You may think with what emotions, then, the seamen beheld this old Oriental perched aloft at such unusual hours; his turban and the moon, companions in one sky. But when, after spending his uniform interval there for several successive nights without uttering a single sound; when, after all this silence, his unearthly voice was heard announcing that silvery, moon-lit jet, every reclining mariner started to his feet as if some winged spirit had lighted in the rigging, and hailed the mortal crew. “There she blows!” Had the trump of judgment blown, they could not have quivered more; yet still they felt no terror; rather pleasure. For though it was a most unwonted hour, yet so impressive was the cry, and so deliriously exciting, that almost every soul on board instinctively desired a lowering.”
Herman Melville

Herman Melville
“It was a black and hooded head; and hanging there in the midst of so intense a calm, it seemed the Sphynx’s in the desert. “Speak, thou vast and venerable head,” muttered Ahab, “which, though ungarnished with a beard, yet here and there lookest hoary with mosses; speak, mighty head, and tell us the secret thing that is in thee. Of all divers, thou hast dived the deepest. That head upon which the upper sun now gleams, has moved amid this world’s foundations. Where unrecorded names and navies rust, and untold hopes and anchors rot; where in her murderous hold this frigate earth is ballasted with bones of millions of the drowned; there, in that awful water-land, there was thy most familiar home. Thou hast been where bell or diver never went; hast slept by many a sailor’s side, where sleepless mothers would give their lives to lay them down. Thou saw’st the locked lovers when leaping from their flaming ship; heart to heart they sank beneath the exulting wave; true to each other, when heaven seemed false to them. Thou saw’st the murdered mate when tossed by pirates from the midnight deck; for hours he fell into the deeper midnight of the insatiate maw; and his murderers still sailed on unharmed—while swift lightnings shivered the neighboring ship that would have borne a righteous husband to outstretched, longing arms. O head! thou hast seen enough to split the planets and make an infidel of Abraham, and not one syllable is thine!”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, the Whale

Herman Melville
“To Ishmael, the whale's indefinite whiteness' shadows forth the heartless voids and immensities of the universe, and thus stabs us from behind with the thought of annihilation. [It's] a color-less, all-color of atheism from which we shrink.”
Herman Melville

W. Somerset Maugham
“Melville, by his own account, spent four months in the valley. He was well treated. He made friends with a girl called Fayaway, swam and boated with her, and except for his fear of being eaten was happy enough.”
W. Somerset Maugham, Great novelists and their novels;: Essays on the ten greatest novels of the world, and the men and women who wrote them

Mark Beauregard
“Melville to Hawthorne: "In your stories, you seem to understand that the dramatic moments come not when a character must choose between right and wrong buy when he must choose between two wrongs.”
Mark Beauregard, The Whale: A Love Story

Herman Melville
“You have but noted his fair cheek. A man-trap may be under his fine ruddy-tipped daisies.”
Herman Melville, Billy Budd, Sailor

Herman Melville
“Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded forever.”
Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Herman Melville
“But for anything deeper, I am not certain whether to know the world and to know human nature be not two distinct branches of knowledge, which while they may coexist in the same heart, yet either may exist with little or nothing of the other.”
Herman Melville, Billy Budd, Sailor

“In a word, after being tried out, the crisp, shrivelled blubber, now called scraps or fritters, still contains considerable of its unctuous properties. These fritters feed the flames. Like a plethoric burning martyr, or a self-consuming misanthrope, once ignited, the whale supplies his own fuel and burns by his own body.”
Herman Meliville, Moby Dick: or the whale

Herman Melville
“As we still ascend from shelf to shelf, we find the tenants of the tower serially disposed in order of their magnitude: gannets, black and speckled haglets, jays, sea hens, sperm-whale birds, gulls of all varieties -- thrones, princedoms, powers, dominating one above another in senatorial array; while, sprinkled over all, like an ever-repeated fly in a great piece of broidery, the stormy petrel or Mother Cary's chicken sounds his continual challenge and alarm.”
Herman Melville, Encatadas

Herman Melville
“Ah, la felicidad busca la luz, por eso juzgamos que el mundo es alegre; pero el dolor se esconde en la soledad, por eso juzgamos que el dolor no existe.”
Herman Melville, Bartleby y otros cuentos

Joël Dicker
“«Harry, perché gli scrittori sono persone così sole? Hemingway, Melville... Sono gli uomini più soli del mondo!»
«Non so se siano gli scrittori a essere soli, o se sia la solitudine a spingerli a scrivere...»”
Joël Dicker, La Vérité sur l'Affaire Harry Quebert

Herman Melville
“We felt very nice and snug, the more so since it was so chilly out of doors; indeed out of bed-clothes too, seeing that there was no fire in the room. The more so, I say, because truly 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.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, the Whale

Jean Baudrillard
“In this way, in a sociality of accelerated circulation but low sign-value, in a game of interaction with neither questions nor responses, power and individuals have no purchase on each other, have no political relationship with each other.
This is the price to be paid for flight into the abstraction of the Virtual. But is it a loss?
It seems that it is, today, a collective choice. Perhaps we would rather be dominated by machines than by people, perhaps we prefer an impersonal, automatic domination, a domination by calculation, to domination by a human will? Not to be subject to an alien will, but to an integral calculus that absorbs us and absolves us of any personal responsibility. A minimal definition of freedom perhaps, and one which more resembles a relinquishment, a disillusioned indifference, a mental economy akin to that of machines, which are themselves also entirely irresponsible and which we are coming increasingly to resemble.
This behaviour is not exactly a choice, nor is it a rejection: there is no longer sufficient energy for that. It is a behaviour based on an uncertain negative preference.
Do you want to be free? I would prefer not to ...
Do you want to be represented? I would prefer not to ...
Do you want to be responsible for your own life? I would prefer not to ...
Do you want to be totally happy? I would prefer not to.”
Jean Baudrillard, The Intelligence of Evil or the Lucidity Pact

Herman Melville
“Delight,--top-gallant delight is to him, who acknowledges no law or lord, but the Lord his God, and is only a patriot to heaven”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, the Whale

Mary Norris
“I am not a Melville scholar; but ever since I read Moby-Dick Melville has been following me around.”
Mary Norris, Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen

Herman Melville
“The truest of all men was the Man of Sorrows, and the truest of all books is Solomon's, and Ecclesiastes is the fine hammered steel of woe.”
Herman Melville, Moby Dick

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