The American Literary Canon Needs More Whales: Debating the Great American Novel

The term “Great American Novel” gets used a lot, but which book can claim that title for its own? Christopher Buckley claims it should go to Moby-Dick:

“From the opening line, the aforementioned “Call me Ishmael,” to the novel’s last line, “Then all collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it did five thousand years ago,” “Moby-Dick” contains within it the most soul-stirring lines in American literature…The narrator, Ishmael, an American innocent in search of adventure at sea. What could be more American?”

Frankly, anything giant sea creature-related gets a high five from me. But I’ve always thought of the Great American Novel as The Great Gatsby. It’s about money, social mobility, and the tragedy of chasing your dreams. Plus, the writing is stellar.

Sadly, Gatsby doesn’t have a whale. Points off, Fitzgerald.

Your votes for the Great American Novel?

(image: Wikipedia)

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