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Day 1

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Chapters 1-3

March 18, 2022 by Yiyun Li

Call me Melville’s reader. Some time ago–after finishing my annual reading of Moby-Dick and already missing the watery world–I thought I would take on a new way of reading, copying out Moby-Dick by hand–the epitome of slow reading and savoring every word.

“Though I cannot tell why it was exactly that those stage managers, the Fates, put me down for this shabby part of a whaling voyage…” If fates are but stage managers, who has written the script? God himself must be the sole creator and the only audience.

“Call me Ishmael” gave birth to the first sentence of Housekeeping: “My name is Ruth.” My copy of Moby-Dick still has notes from Marilynne Robinson’s lecture. In the margin of chapter 3: “Education of Ishmael.” “Life is a work of consciousness.”

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