This note accompanies the follow episode(s):
The Writer’s Almanac for November 14, 2017: Pear Trees on Irving Street

November 14, 2017: published: Moby-Dick

It was on this day in 1851 that Moby-Dick was published in New York, as one long, 635-page book. About a month earlier, a censored version of the novel had been published in three separate volumes in London. It was called The Whale.

 Moby-Dick begins with the famous lines:

“Call me Ishmael. 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. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship.”

And Herman Melville wrote in Moby-Dick: “Meditation and water are wedded for ever.”