Moby Dick Quotes

Quotes tagged as "moby-dick" (showing 1-30 of 62)
Herman Melville
“I try all things, I achieve what I can.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, The Whale

Sherrilyn Kenyon
“Well . . . he lets it ruin his life. He gets so obsessed with going after the one thing that hurt him that he loses sight of everything else. He becomes isolated from everyone and everything. Paranoid. He feels like he can't trust anyone around him ever. In the end, he loses everything, even his life. And for what? Total stupidity, if you ask me.”
Sherrilyn Kenyon, Invincible

Herman Melville
“In one word, Queequeg, said I, rather digressively; hell is an idea first born on an undigested apple-dumpling; and since then perpetuated through the hereditary dyspepsias nurtured by Ramadans.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, The Whale

Herman Melville
“There is, one knows not what sweet mystery about this sea, whose gently awful stirrings seem to speak of some hidden soul beneath...”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, The Whale

Kelly Moran
“He could’ve penned a rendition of Moby Dick in Pig Latin and he wouldn’t have been the wiser.”
Kelly Moran, Benediction

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
“From beneath his slouched hat Ahab dropped a tear into the sea; nor did all the Pacific contain such wealth as that one wee drop.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, The Whale

Ray Bradbury
“Shakespeare wrote Moby-Dick, using Melville as a Ouija board.”
Ray Bradbury

Herman Melville
“In life, the visible surface of the Sperm Whale is not the least among the many marvels he presents. Almost invariably it is all over obliquely crossed and re-crossed with numberless straight marks in thick array, something like those in the finest Italian line engravings. But these marks do not seem to be impressed upon the isinglass substance above mentioned, but seem to be seen through it, as if they were engraved upon the body itself. Nor is this all. In some instances, to the quick, observant eye, those linear marks, as in a veritable engraving, but afford the ground for far other delineations. These are hieroglyphical; that is, if you call those mysterious cyphers on the walls of pyramids hieroglyphics, then that is the proper word to use in the present connexion. By my retentive memory of the hieroglyphics upon one Sperm Whale in particular, I was much struck with a plate representing the old Indian characters chiselled on the famous hieroglyphic palisades on the banks of the Upper Mississippi. Like those mystic rocks, too, the mystic-marked whale remains undecipherable.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, The Whale

Herman Melville
“But vain to popularize profundities, and all truth is profound.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, The Whale

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

Herman Melville
“It is the horrible texture of a fabric that should be woven of ships' cables and hawsers. A Polar wind blows through it, and birds of prey hover over it.”
Herman Melville

Herman Melville
“One often hears of writers that rise and swell with their subject, though it may seem but an ordinary one. How, then, with me, writing of this Leviathan? Unconsciously my chirography expands into placard capitals. Give me a condor's quill! Give me Vesuvius' crater for an inkstand! Friends, hold my arms! For in the mere act of penning my thoughts of this Leviathan, they weary me, and make me faint with their out-reaching comprehensiveness of sweep, as if to include the whole circle of the sciences, and all the generations of whales, and men, and mastodons, past, present, and to come, with all the revolving panoramas of empire on earth, and throughout the whole universe, not excluding its suburbs. Such, and so magnifying, is the virtue of a large and liberal theme! We expand to its bulk. To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be who have tried it.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, The Whale

Northrop Frye
“Themes of descent often turn on the struggle between the titanic and the demonic within the same person or group. In Moby Dick, Ahab’s quest for the whale may be mad and “monomaniacal,” as it is frequently called, or even evil so far as he sacrifices his crew and ship to it, but evil or revenge are not the point of the quest. The whale itself may be only a “dumb brute,” as the mate says, and even if it were malignantly determined to kill Ahab, such an attitude, in a whale hunted to the death, would certainly be understandable if it were there. What obsesses Ahab is in a dimension of reality much further down than any whale, in an amoral and alienating world that nothing normal in the human psyche can directly confront.
The professed quest is to kill Moby Dick, but as the portents of disaster pile up it becomes clear that a will to identify with (not adjust to) what Conrad calls the destructive element is what is really driving Ahab. Ahab has, Melville says, become a “Prometheus” with a vulture feeding on him. The axis image appears in the maelstrom or descending spiral (“vortex”) of the last few pages, and perhaps in a remark by one of Ahab’s crew: “The skewer seems loosening out of the middle of the world.” But the descent is not purely demonic, or simply destructive: like other creative descents, it is partly a quest for wisdom, however fatal the attaining of such wisdom may be. A relation reminiscent of Lear and the fool develops at the end between Ahab and the little black cabin boy Pip, who has been left so long to swim in the sea that he has gone insane. Of him it is said that he has been “carried down alive to wondrous depths, where strange shapes of the unwarped primal world glided to and fro . . . and the miser-merman, Wisdom, revealed his hoarded heaps.”
Moby Dick is as profound a treatment as modern literature affords of the leviathan symbolism of the Bible, the titanic-demonic force that raises Egypt and Babylon to greatness and then hurls them into nothingness; that is both an enemy of God outside the creation, and, as notably in Job, a creature within it of whom God is rather proud. The leviathan is revealed to Job as the ultimate mystery of God’s ways, the “king over all the children of pride” (41:34), of whom Satan himself is merely an instrument. What this power looks like depends on how it is approached. Approached by Conrad’s Kurtz through his Antichrist psychosis, it is an unimaginable horror: but it may also be a source of energy that man can put to his own use. There are naturally considerable risks in trying to do so: risks that Rimbaud spoke of in his celebrated lettre du voyant as a “dérèglement de tous les sens.” The phrase indicates the close connection between the titanic and the demonic that Verlaine expressed in his phrase poète maudit, the attitude of poets who feel, like Ahab, that the right worship of the powers they invoke is defiance.”
Northrop Frye, Words with Power: Being a Second Study of the Bible and Literature

Herman Melville
“in common life we esteem but meanly and contemptibly a fellow who anoints his hair, and palpably smells of that anointing. In truth, a mature man who uses hair-oil, unless medicinally, that man has probably got a quoggy spot in him somewhere. As a general rule, he can't amount to much in his totality.”
Herman Melville

Herman Melville
“but the reason why the grave-digger made music must have been because there was none in his spade”
Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Eric Jay Dolin
“American whale oil lit the world. It was used in the production of soap, textiles, leather, paints, and varnishes, and it lubricated the tools and machines that drove the Industrial Revolution. The baleen cut from the mouths of whales shaped the course of feminine fashion by putting the hoop in hooped skirts and giving form to stomachtightening
and chest-crushing corsets. Spermaceti, the waxy substance from the heads of sperm whales, produced the brightest- and cleanest-burning candles the world has ever known, while ambergris, a byproduct of irritation in a sperm whale’s bowel, gave perfumes great staying power and was worth its weight in gold.”
Eric Jay Dolin, Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America

Mark Beauregard
“There is mystery in everything,” Herman whispered, almost to himself. “And so there is poetry in everything. Even something as monstrous as a whale. But how to unlock its poetry.”
Mark Beauregard, The Whale: A Love Story

Herman Melville
“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 Phædon instead of Bowditch in his head. Beware of such an one, I say: your whales must be seen before they can be killed...”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, The Whale

Herman Melville
“When I go to sea, I go as a simple sailor, right before the mast, plumb down into the forecastle, aloft there to the royal mast-head. True, they rather order me about some, and make me jump from spar to spar, like a grasshopper in a May meadow. And at first, this sort of thing is unpleasant enough. It touches one's sense of honor, particularly if you come of an old established family in the land, the van Rensselaers, or Randolphs, or Hardicanutes. And more than all, if just previous to putting your hand into the tar-pot, you have been lording it as a country schoolmaster, making the tallest boys stand in awe of you. The transition is a keen one, I assure you, from the schoolmaster to a sailor, and requires a strong decoction of Seneca and the Stoics to enable you to grin and bear it. But even this wears off in time.

What of it, if some old hunks of a sea-captain orders me to get a broom and sweep down the decks? What does that indignity amount to, weighed, I mean, in the scales of the New Testament? Do you think the archangel Gabriel thinks anything the less of me, because I promptly and respectfully obey that old hunks in that particular instance? Who ain't a slave? Tell me that. Well, then, however the old sea-captains may order me about—however they may thump and punch me about, I have the satisfaction of knowing that it is all right; that everybody else is one way or other served in much the same way—either in a physical or metaphysical point of view, that is; and so the universal thump is passed round, and all hands should rub each other's shoulder-blades, and be content.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, The Whale

Mark Beauregard
“I have negotiated with cannibals in foreign tongues and Arabian sea captains and French criminals. I have bartered with demons and angels! I am not about to let a country doctor take advantage of me.”
Mark Beauregard, The Whale: A Love Story

Herman Melville
“Why don't ye be sensible, Flask? it's easy to be sensible; why don't ye, then? any man with half an eye can be sensible."
"I don't know that, Stubb. You sometimes find it rather hard.”
Herman Melville

Herman Melville
“Queequeg explained to me that his world was very different from ours. However, one thing he learned quickly, was that within all groups of people there are kind men and there are unkind men.”
Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Richard Armour
“...you would do well to turn from Chapter XXXVI to Chapter CXXXIII without further delay, thus saving nearly a hundred chapters without anybody's knowing the difference if you keep quiet. After all, Ahab isn't the only one entitled to be a skipper.”
Richard Armour, The Classics Reclassified

Ben Monopoli
“You know you’re in a tough place in your life when you decide now’s a good time to start Moby Dick.”
Ben Monopoli, Homo Action Love Story! A tall tale

Herman Melville
“Hay ciertas extrañas ocasiones y coyunturas en este raro asunto entremezclado que llamamos vida, en que uno toma el entero universo por una enorme broma pesada, aunque no llega a discernirle su gracia sino vagamente, y tiene algo más que sospechas de que la broma no es a expensas sino de él mismo.”
Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Herman Melville
“Look ye, carpenter, I dare say thou callest thyself a right good workmanlike workman, eh!”
Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Herman Melville
“Songez à la ruse de la mer et à la manière dont ses créatures les plus redoutables glissent sous l’eau, à peu près invisibles, traîtreusement cachées par les plus suaves tons d’azur. Songez à la beauté et à l’éclat satanique de ses plus impitoyables tribus, à la forme exquise de certains
requins. Songez au cannibalisme universel qui règne dans la mer où les créatures de proie s’entre-dévorent, menant une guerre éternelle depuis l’origine du monde.
Songez à tout cela et tournez alors vos regards vers cette terre aimable et verte infiniment docile, songez à l’Océan et à la terre, ne retrouvez-vous pas en vous-même leurs pareils ? Car de même que cet océan de terreur entoure les verts continents, de même l’âme de l’homme enferme une Tahiti, île de paix et de joie, cernée par les horreurs sans nombre d’une vie à demi inconnue.
Que Dieu te garde ! Ne pousse pas au large de cette île, tu n’y pourrais jamais revenir !”
Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Byron Edgington
“I don't want truth, Palmer; I want smoke!"
Captain Ahearn: Waiting For Willie Pete”
Byron Edgington

Patrick Ness
“For there are devils in the deep,
but worst are the ones
we make.”
Patrick Ness, And the Ocean Was Our Sky

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