I'm a voracious reader. Although unedited from the archaic english Melville wrote in, it took me about 5 nights to read the book. About 1/3 slower than normal. I try to drag it out, enjoy it, you know?
Anyhow, among my favorite passages is Ahab's moment to harpoon the whale after chasing it across time and much of the globe. There are so few passages in books that truly capture the emotional weight of a true emotional climax for a man who has utterly and entirely committed himself to an action. You know that moment you think of, maybe one you've never truly even had to be in, where you utterly throw yourself at a goal that has become an obsession, where costs, consequences and calculations become meaningless in the name of a shot at catharsis? To me, surviving a moment like that is the very epitome of what it is to be a man- and the genius of Melville shows when he narrates this moment where a simple case of revenge has devolved into a one-way journey into hell.
All that most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain; all the subtle demonisms of life and thought; all evil, to crazy Ahab, were visibly personified, and made practically assailable in Moby-Dick. He piled upon the whale’s white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart’s shell upon it.
Goddam right he did.