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It’s Okay to Hate Moby Dick

September 11, 2018

Reading about Moby Dick might be more fun than actually reading Moby Dick.

Classic literature is tough to read sometimes, and a book that gets criticized for this a lot is Moby Dick.  Even though there might be books that are more hated than Moby Dick, it seems to be the standard.  People who don’t read much aren’t familiar with polarizing novels like Infinite Jest or Finnegans Wake, but everybody’s heard of Moby Dick.  Even people who don’t read hate Moby Dick just because of what they’ve heard.

Throughout the course of my life, I’ve been pro-Moby Dick, and I’ve been anti-Moby Dick.  Right now I’m ambivalent about Moby Dick.  It’s best to write about stuff when you’re not feeling too passionate. After all, you need to see both sides of an issue to be fair.  A little passion is necessary for good writing, but too much can make you sound crazy.  I don’t want to sound crazy when I’m talking about literature.

Sometimes I tell myself “I’ll never have to read Moby Dick again,” and I smile.  I mean, I’m capable of reading Moby Dick.  I might decide to challenge myself one final time, and that would be great.  Even if I decide to read Moby Dick again, I probably won’t enjoy the experience. If I read Moby Dick again, I might even hate it.

  1. This made me think about the phenomenon of wanting to read something so I can say I’ve read it – it’s not productive but somehow we feel like we’ve achieved something, or others may think better of us, just because we got through a hefty canonical text. To my mind it’s usually a waste of time.

    Similarly, there’s the debate over whether bookshelves which are on display are for books you’ve read, or books you intend to read (do you have an opinion on that one?). Someone told me that it’s pointless just to hold onto books you’ve read because you may not even remember them anyway, so you’re better off showing off the books you intend to read – a record of aspiration, rather than supposed achievement.

    (In the interests of transparency I’ve not read Moby Dick, and I don’t intend to).

    • Reading a book as a challenge MIGHT be good for the brain (so it might be productive), and I’ve also gotten ego boosts from bragging rights. But the bragging rights were important only when I was younger. Now I don’t care.

      I usually display books if they’re conversation starters. I’m not sure if I’ll display Moby Dick anymore.

  2. I actually loved Moby Dick and could not get through Finnegan’s Wake.

  3. I tried and gave up )

  4. Tbh I know very little of Moby Dick, and I do hope to read it someday without any outside influence.

  5. the reading group I was in spent THREE YEARS discussing Moby Dick. It was wonderful. (When we got to Absalom, Absalom the story was different.)

  6. How dare, it’s a classic.

    So what if it has an entire chapter dedicated to a fucking colour, many chapters about the anatomy of whales and the process of whaling, and the narrator is an insufferable prick?

    Joking aside I did end up liking it, but I don’t think I’d read it again.

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