Ah: another classic I should have read long ago. Just as I joyed in discovering the pleasures of George Eliot, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Melville's masterpiece. "See how elastic our stiff prejudices grow when love once comes to bend them," you might say.
In early chapters, I found myself laughing quite a bit at Ishmael's wit and wordplay; later in the book, what struck me most was the contemplativeness amid the Pequod's great journey: "One most perilous and long voyage ended, only begins a second; and a second ended, only begins a third, and so on, for ever and for aye. Such is the endlessness, yea, the intolerableness of all earthly effort."
Another reflection echoes this sentiment, and seems oddly comforting at a time of uncertainty and self-doubt: "the mingled, mingling threads of life are woven by warp and woof: calms crossed by storms, a storm for every calm. There is no steady unretracing progress in this life; we do not advance through fixed gradations, and at the last one pause.” What is important, perhaps, is simply seeing what is yet to come.
Illustration: October 18 Google Doodle, posted this year on the site's home page in honor of the 161st anniversary of the book's publication.