Favorite Pieces of Writing: Excerpt from Moby Dick

In 2013 I listened to the great American novel on the great American road trip: driving from southern California to South Carolina, I listened to the Frank Muller’s reading of Herman Melville’s masterpiece Moby Dick.  I had never heard such a great command of the English language, and I doubt I ever will again. There were several passages worth citing, but this one is that I (somewhat arbitrarily) selected:

“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!”

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