Originally Posted by smurphny
Sometimes when reading classic lit., the absolute command of words is startling. It makes me wonder what ever happened to The English Language. Here's one from Herman Melville, the opening to...well you know:
Call me Ishmael. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.
All sailors can relate to this passage. Any others out there?
Melville's writing is fantastic. So, too, is his sense of humor. Moby Dick has some of the funniest passages I have ever read in classic literature, on the same level as Twain- and that's saying something. I have always regarded Twain and Steinbeck as the two greatest American writers, with no close second. Melville is one of the greats and the only reason I don't personally rank him with Twain and Steinbeck is that Melville tends to go off on wild tangents in Moby Dick and the story suffers for it. Still a wonderful book by any account.