Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Will Stand No Nonsense

I used to pretend that I could consider myself well-read.  After discovering that Lawrence Auster characterized his own reading list as "meager," I discarded that nonsense.

Ace Of Spades HQ posted a link to The Federalist's Top Ten (but really eleven) books "that people lie about reading", and named Moby as one he wished he'd read.  Ben Domenech at The Federalist quotes William F. Buckley saying about not having read Moby Dick until he was 50, "To think I might have died without having read it."

Of Domenech's 11, I've so far read only Atlas & 1984.

Right now, I'm cruising through the fifty-first chapter of Moby Dick, largely because I was going through Auster's list looking for a certifiable classic that I'd not read.  Do check out that exhaustive list, linked above.

Here's a recent stanza from chapter XLV that I enjoyed:

Thirdly: Some eighteen or twenty years ago Commodore J——, then commanding an American sloop-of-war of the first class, happened to be dining with a party of whaling-captains, on board a Nantucket ship in the harbour of Oahu, Sandwich Islands. Conversation turning upon whales, the commodore was pleased to be sceptical touching the amazing strength ascribed to them by the professional gentlemen present. He peremptorily denied, for example, that any whale could so smite his stout sloop-of-war as to cause her to leak so much as a thimbleful. Very good; but there is more coming. Some weeks after, the commodore set sail in this impregnable craft for Valparaiso. But he was stopped on the way by a portly sperm whale, that begged a few moments’ confidential business with him. That business consisted in fetching the commodore’s craft such a thwack, that with all his pumps going he made straight for the nearest port to heave down and repair. I am not superstitious, but I consider the commodore’s interview with that whale as providential. Was not Saul of Tarsus converted from unbelief by a similar fright? I tell you, the sperm whale will stand no nonsense.

Don't know if my top eleven would be the same as Domenech's, but I'll report back after I finish Melville's classic, on whether or not I'd include it in mine.

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