Herman Melville is honored today, over 121 years after his death, by a Google doodle that depicts a scene from Melville's literary masterpiece, Moby-Dick, which was published for the first time in Britain exactly 161 years today.

The scene to which Google's doodle pays homage shows Moby-Dick's Captain Ahab commandeering a boat to spear the enormous white whale, which glances back suspiciously, spewing water that forms the "l" in "Google," from its blowhole.

The 161st anniversary of the 1851 publication comes in the middle of a project called the Moby-Dick Big Read, in which 135 celebrities and Melville fans, including Tilda Swinton, Stephen Fry, Simon Callow and David Cameron each read and record one chapter of the 135 Moby-Dick chapters per day. The project is currently up to Chapter 33, and the whole thing can be downloaded on the project's website.

While Moby-Dick is now considered one of the greatest American novels that was ever written, it was far from appreciated at the time of its 1851 release. Critic Henry F. Chorley of the London Athenaeum called it an “absurd book” at the time and accused Melville of being one of those literary "incorrigibles who occasionally tantalize us with indications of genius, while they constantly summon us to endure monstrosities, carelessnesses, and other such harassing manifestations of bad taste.”

Check out this playful little bonus tribute to Moby-Dick here:

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