Atheism in Literature

Moby Dick, or The Whale by Herman Melville 1851

Certaine interesting quotations relevante to deistic & atheistic thought.

In all his cringing attitudes, the God-fugitive [Jonah] is now too plainly known. The sailors mark him; more and more certain grow their suspicions of him ... 46

And those same things that would have repelled most others, they were the very magnets that thus drew me. I'll try a pagan friend, thought I, since Christian kindness has proved but hollow courtesy. 52

... no man can ever feel his own identity aright except his eyes be closed; as if darkness were indeed the proper element of our essences, though light be more congenial to our clayey part. 55

'Aft here, ye sons of bachelors,' he cried, as the sailors lingered at the main-mast. 105

For some of these same Quakers are the most sanguinary of all sailors and whale-hunters. They are fighting Quakers; they are Quakers with a vengeance. 76

Let me only say that it fared with him as with the storm-tossed ship, that miserably drives along the leeward land. The port would fain give succor; the port is pitiful; in the port is safety, comfort, hearthstone, supper, warm blankets, friends, all that's kind to our mortalities. But in that gale, the port, the land, is that ship's direst jeopardy; she must fly all hospitality; one touch of land, though it but graze the keel, would maker her shudder through and through. With all her might she crowds all sail off shore; in so doing, she fight 'gainst the very winds that fain would blow her homeward; seeks all the lashed sea's landlessness again; for refuge's sake forlornly rushing into peril; her only friend her bitterest foe! [atheism] 109

God, keep me from ever completing anything. This whole book is but a draught--nay, but the draught of a draught. Oh, Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience. 147

'Hark ye yet again, --the little lower layer. All visible objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks. But in each event--in the living act, the undoubted deed--there, some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask. If man will strike, strike through the mask! How can the prisoner reach outside except by thrusting through the wall? ... Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I'd strike the sun if it insulted me. For could the sun do that, then could I do the other; since there is ever a sort of fair play herein, jealousy presiding over all creations. But not my master, man, is even that fair play. Who's over me? Truth hath no confines. 167

Oh, hard! that to fire others, the match itself must needs be wasting! What I've dared, I've willed; and what I've willed, I'll do! They think me mad! --Starbuck does; but I'm demoniac, I am madness maddened! That wild madness that's only calm to comprehend itself! 171

Oh! the metempsychosis! Oh! Pythagoras, that in bright Greece, two thousand years ago, did die, so good, so wise, so mild; I sailed with thee along the Peruvian coast last voyage ... 439

I now know thee, thou clear spirit, and I now know that thy right worship is defiance. To neither love nor reverence wilt thou be kind; and e'en for that thou canst but kill; and all are killed. ... In the midst of the personified impersonal, a personality stands here. Though but a point at best; whencesoe'er I came; wheresoe'er I go; yet while I earthly live, the queenly personality lives in me, and feels her royal rights. 514

There can be no hearts above the snow line. ... Lo! ye believers in god's all goodness, and in man all ill, lo you! see the omniscient gods oblivious of suffering man; and man, though idiotic, and knowing not what he does, yet full of the sweet things of love and gratitude. 529

Now, then, Pip, we'll talk this over; I do suck most wondrous philosophies from thee! Some unknown conduits from the unknown worlds must empty into thee! 535

Omen? omen?--the dictionary! If the gods think to speak outright to man, they will honorably speak outright; not shake their heads, and give an old wive's darkling hint. 560

Or is it, that as in essence whiteness is not so much a color as the visible absence of color, and at the same time the concrete of all colors; is it for these reasons that there is such a dumb blankness, full of meaning, in a wide landscape of snow--a colorless, all-color of atheism from which we shrink? p?

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created 1jun1996, revised 20mar98     |     comments on this site? tpkunesh@atheisms.info