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Day 5

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Chapters 17-21

March 22, 2022 by Yiyun Li

“Hell is an idea first born on an undigested apple-dumpling.” Ishmael’s thought reminds me of Georg Christoph Lichtenberg’s The Waste Books, with notes spanning decades. I would read a similar book of thoughts, observations, and memoranda by Ishmael.

“Now and then he stooped to pick up a patch, or save an end of the tarred twine, which otherwise might have been wasted.” I love that Moby-Dick offers details about the microeconomics and macroeconomics of the whaling industry.

The multitude of things needed for a whaling ship: “a three-years’ housekeeping upon the wide ocean.” I often wonder if that sentence was why Marilynne Robinson named her novel Housekeeping.

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