No American masterpiece casts quite as awesome a shadow as Melville's monumental Moby Dick. Mad Captain Ahab's quest for the White Whale is a timeless epic--a stirring tragedy of vengeance and obsession, a searing parable about humanity lost in a universe of moral ambiguity. It is the greatest sea story ever told. Far ahead of its own time, Moby Dick was largely misunderstood and unappreciated by Melville's contemporaries. Today, however, it is indisputably a classic. As D.H. Lawrence wrote, Moby Dick "commands a stillness in the soul, an awe . . . [It is] one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world."
We live in a modern society that is often depressingly impatient. I think it's too bad that modern readers want their books to get started, move quickly, get to the point, and be done with it already! It's weird, isn't it? We read books because we (hopefully) want to read them; they provide an interesting diversion. Why, then, are we impatient for them to be over? Why not enjoy each chapter of Moby Dick for its own sake? Weird, rambling, but brilliant, they are enjoyable, if you suspend the need for instant gratification. I think it helps that I have a two hour commute in the car every day, and listened to this as an audiobook.
Oh, one other interesting side-note: The book has remarkable thoughts / insights / scientific questions about whales. One fascinating thing to think about is the visual system of whales. Whales have two eyes on either side of their enormous, massive heads. There's no way they can see directly in front of themselves... which means that means they almost definitely perceive two entirely-distinct visual fields. How are those disparate visual signals combined in the brain? How does a whale process spatial information? What a remarkable question Herman Melville posed in the 1850s!