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By Yiyn Li

"Immortality is but ubiquity in time" -- wrote Herman Melville in "Moby-Dick." That line, to me, is the most apt endorsement of the novel. Someone - a writer few among the readers today have heard of -- once compared books to cars in his diary, meaning new models are produced each year, and the old go out of fashion and are soon forgotten. "Who wants to read a 600-page novel about whaling, which, full of digressions was a commercial failure when it was first published?" a young writer once asked me. I supposed my answer would be: readers who believe a novel can be many things (a portrait of nature; a miniature of America reconstructed aboard a whaling ship; a philosophical, theological, historical exploration of human endeavors; a tal of a friendship) and readers who believe that timeliness is but a minor virtue for literature. Certainly "Moby-Dick" is not this year's new car. It is as solid and enduring as an ancient column in Athens. Even better, it comes in a most affordable form, occupies little space, but promises an endless, expansive journey for our minds.

- Yiyn Li is the author of 2019's "Must I Go" and rereads "Moby-Dick" every year.
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