Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


Herman Melville's "Moby Dick": 10 most memorable lines

While Herman Melville lived, little attention was paid to "Moby Dick." When the ambitious, electric, darkly philosophical story of a mad sea captain's obsession with an albino whale was published in 1851, most of the world ignored it. It wasn't until the 1920s – a few decades after Melville's 1891 death – that literary historians began to take note. Here are 10 of the lines most memorably associated with the book now called a masterwork of world literature.     

- Monitor Books editor

Illustration by Rockwell Kent/Courtesy of the Plattsburgh State Art Museum, State University of New York USA, Rockwell Kent Collection, Bequest of Sally Kent Gordon

1. How we begin

"Call me Ishmael."

Herman Melville created one of the best-known opening lines in all of literature with this first sentence of "Moby Dick


  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer