Paperback - 1981
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No American masterpiece casts quite as awesome a shadow as Melville's monumental MOBY DICK. Mad Captain Ahab's quest for the White Whale is a timeless epic- a stirring tragedy of vengeance and obsession, a searing parable about humanity lost in a universe of moral ambiguity. It is the greatest sea story ever told. Far ahead of its own time, MOBY DICK was largely misunderstood and unappreciated by Melville's contemporaries. Today, however, it is indisputably a classic. As D.H. Lawrence wrote, MOBY DICK "commands a stillness in the soul, an awe... It is one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world."
Publisher: New York : Bantam, 1981.
ISBN: 9780553213119
Characteristics: xxvii, 670 p. ; 18 cm.
Additional Contributors: Walcutt, Charles Child 1908-1989


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🐋 Melville's great work is, of course, Moby Dick, about a mad captain and his search for the great white whale that carried off his leg. Though Captain Ahab could never get his leg back intact, and would have no use for it, except maybe to hang over the mantel, he pursues Moby Dick relentlessly. With remarkable restraint, the author keeps one of his two chief characters, the whale after whom the book is named, out of the novel until Chapter CXXXIII.
The reader of this classic of the sea will learn a great deal about the different kinds of whales, the history of whaling, and how to get the oil out of a whale¹, picking up many Interesting Facts not usually found in a novel. Moby Dick is thought by some to represent Evil, and when the whale finally overcomes his pursuer, Captain Ahab, the reader can let out a sigh of relief, knowing that once more Evil has triumphed.
Few works have been so subject to interpretation. There are those who see Moby Dick as an allegory symbolizing the struggle between man and nature. Others, however, find it a thinly veiled epic of seasickness. In a brilliant piece of scholarship, one young scholar has discovered Internal Evidence that the name Ahab spelled backwards is Baha. Baha is the noise a sheep makes, Ahab was a black sheep chasing a white whale, his wooden leg was a you-know-what symbol, and the whole thing adds up to miscegenation on the briny deep.
From time to time there has been a Melville revival, but it seems generally agreed that Captain Ahab is gone for good.

¹It isn't easy. You don't just pull out a plug.

--Richard Armour

FVRL_Maple_Ridge Feb 05, 2021

The Maple Ridge Teen Advisory Group (TAG) recommends this book (October/November 2019). Come into the Maple Ridge branch to learn more about joining TAG!

CCCL_PamelaB Dec 19, 2020

A mad captain in search of the White Whale, an assorted crew of whalemen from across the globe, and one long tumultuous voyage across the Pacific Ocean. The witty humor and long encyclopedic history lessons on whales, the whaling industry, and anything else you can think of related to whales—makes this much more than just an adventure story.

After completing the novel, I recommend checking out the true story of the Essex, a whaling ship that was Herman Melville’s primary inspiration for the writing of Moby Dick. The true account is written by the ship's first mate, Owen Chase, and titled "Narratives of the Wreck of the Whale-ship Essex."

Aug 24, 2020

I just finished 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and wanted to compare the madness of Captain Nemo with that of Captain Ahab. Perhaps Captain Nemo's Nautilus is Moby Dick. There is an annotated version of Moby Dick at I still had to look stuff up but this made it a lot easier. Also I would read the regular chapter and go back and reread the annotated version. So I feel I read almost everything at least twice and still finished the book in 20 days while also reading other novels. I really enjoyed it and this was only my second attempt at the novel. First attempt failed. Good luck!

JCLMattC Dec 30, 2019

This was heavy. If you strip away the dated whale taxonomy and the copious musings on the usage of whale blubber in society, you get a really crazy story. Foaming at the mouth with vengeance, Captain Ahab seeks the white whale, Moby-Dick, and is prepared to chase him to the ends of the earth.

Dec 05, 2019

Just try to read this now, in 2019, without seeing how our endless, rapacious capacity to consume could not have led us- in all innocence- to the complete destruction of our environment and our own culture.
Ah! Moby! Ah! Humanity!

May 30, 2019

Very entertaining and informative; Stubb is the best character.

IndyPL_SteveB Nov 15, 2018

Perhaps the most famous American novel that the fewest people have read. In fact, for many people the book itself is the white whale – intimidating to contemplate, woeful to confront. There are certainly a lot of problems with *Moby Dick*, especially for the modern reader. This minimal plot moves at a very slow pace. Melville is excessively long-winded, giving us half a dozen complex metaphors with obscure historical references in one paragraph where one clean comparison might have been more effective.

So what is GOOD about the book? Surprisingly, there is a lot of humor. We tend to think of this classic as a great tragedy but Melville is adept at wry descriptions of his characters and sarcastic comments on human nature. The characters are interesting, especially Queequeg the harpooner. And the philosophy about man’s relationship to the universe is interesting if you take the time to think about it as you go. And finally there is the last 50 pages. Melville’s description of the white whale is stunning in its beauty and power. He tightens up the metaphors and delivers a powerful description of man against nature, with the sea and the whale trying to destroy the humans.

Sep 19, 2018

I read this book to fulfil the goal read an allegory. It has been on my bucket list for a long time. I really enjoyed it even if I did find the ending a bit weird. It is also on listopia's 300 books everyone should read once list. I think it belongs there

Aug 17, 2018

Many reviewers on this page seem to be confused. This is the graphic novel version of Moby Dick and it is incredible. The art style fits the tone perfectly and younger readers can enjoy the iconic story without having to muscle through the dense original novel. Read it if you're a graphic novel fan!

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ellensix Oct 09, 2015

"I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I'll go to it laughing."
—Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

Jun 29, 2014

"Call me Ishmael"

Jan 02, 2014

The more so, I say, because truly to enjoy bodily warmth, some small part of you must be cold, for there is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself.

Jan 02, 2014

Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian.

Jan 02, 2014

"Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever."

Jan 02, 2014

"Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can."

SAPPHIREBEAR15 Jun 28, 2012


SAPPHIREBEAR15 Jun 28, 2012


SAPPHIREBEAR15 Jun 28, 2012


SAPPHIREBEAR15 Jun 28, 2012


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Nov 07, 2014

Ishmael goes whaling with a friend but the Captain, Ahab, wants revenge on the whale Moby Dick for eating his leg. They kill lots of whales, meet many crazy people who are prophetic, meet other ships, go through tragedies, sail around, and end up all dying against Moby Dick except for Ishmael.

SAPPHIREBEAR15 Jun 28, 2012

History of Moby Dick


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May 28, 2019

blue_dog_17792 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


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