Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Moby Dick's resonant first and last lines


Everyone knows this novel's famous opening line:
Call me Ishmael.
And, of course, its equally famous closing line:
And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
Well, I am here to tell you that you are wrong. The true opening is as follows:
The pale Usher -- threadbare in coat, heart, body, and brain; I see him now. He was ever dusting his old lexicons and grammars, with a queer handkerchief, mockingly embellished with all the gay flags of all the known nations of the world.
But even that is prefaced by these words of etymology supplied by . . . oh, you'll get it on your own:

(Supplied by a Late Consumptive Usher to a Grammar School.)
And the true closing words are these:
It was the devious-cruising Rachel, that in her retracing search after her missing children, only found another orphan.
And that's the truth!



At 9:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am intrigued by the mysterious command "Call ms Ishmael." And also why was ms in small caps? I must read the book again.


At 10:17 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Uncle Cran - my eyes are getting worse.

Jeffery Hodges

@ @ @


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