Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick was first published as The Whale on this date in 1851. The novel begins with the famous line, “Call me Ishmael.” It continues: “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 …”
The novel is about the mysterious Captain Ahab and his quest to hunt down the white whale, Moby-Dick, who cost him his leg on a previous voyage. Melville filled the book with symbolism and philosophy and Shakespearean rhetoric. The public didn’t get it and it only sold about 3,000 copies while Melville was alive.