In honor of its 161st anniversary (thanks for the reminder, Google!), I bring you my favorite passage. It’s located at the end of chapter 96, “The Try-Works,” and isn’t just my favorite passage from the book, but my favorite piece of writing ever. Check it:
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.
Read it out loud. It’s beautiful.
If you haven’t read this classic yet, do it now. Intimidated by its size? If you’re anywhere near New York on Nov. 16-18, come to the Moby-Dick Marathon. Over a span of three days, a bunch of writers, including Jonathan Ames, Lev Grossman, and Sarah Vowell, will be reading the book straight through. You can finish it in just one weekend!
I mean, really. When your friends ask you what you did over the weekend, what’s more badass than answering, “Oh, nothing, just read Moby Dick all the way through. And you?”