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Moby-Dick

A novel by Herman Melville

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"Call me overrated"

  • Jun 27, 2003
Rating:
-1
Some novels get the recognition they deserve, some are mysteriously overlooked and others...well, let's just say that the reasons for "Moby Dick" being considered a great work are as difficult to hunt down as the whale itself. The narrative is confused and rambling, often all at sea. Thus we have a first-person narrator (Ishmael) who is somehow able to tell us what Captain Ahab is thinking when alone in his cabin, a harpoon, without a rope attached, which is thrown into the sea and has miraculously reappeared in the next scene, and so on. Whole books could be written, and indeed have been, detailing all the errors in this story. Apologists have contrived elaborate and unconvincing excuses for what is clearly simple carelessness on the author's part.

As for the characters, they never quite make sense. If the whale represents Evil and Ahab Good, why is the latter such an unsympathetic person? What are we to make of the livid lightning scar down his side? The book is full of such presumed symbolism but it all remains vague and unfocused. Ahab having a young wife and newborn child also does not fit the man and his motivations. Queequeg, the most interesting character, is abandoned and forgotten by the author near the end.

Melville attempts humor but it is embarrassingly weak. Sometimes, as when he discusses the nature of whales and decides they are fish, not mammals, it is hard to know if he is serious or joking. Either way, it would be such a poor joke, who cares?

"Moby Dick" has such an iconic place in American literature that anyone with a serious interest in the subject will want to read it. Please do so unprejudiced by the conventional view that this is a masterpiece. Ask yourself honestly; is it really any good?

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More Moby-Dick reviews
review by . June 16, 2010
I don't really care whether or not something counts as literature. Whatever the merits of reading a work, nothing seems to take the fun out of it like being told how seriously to take it. I'm not interested in a work's importance but its power, so I approached Moby Dick not as "The Great American Novel" (whatever that means) but as a story of a madman chasing a monster across the vast abyss of the open ocean. (Before Jaws, before Cthulhu, there was Dick!) And it's a brilliant …
review by . June 28, 2010
Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick or The Whale is like a treasure hiding in plain sight from modern readers who are too intimidated by its artistic and physical magnitude to venture in and discover its awe-inspiring imaginativeness.  I doubt there has ever been a fictional world more complete than Melville’s massive world of whaling.               The immensity of Moby-Dick is part of its charm and Melville’s brilliance.  …
Quick Tip by . October 07, 2010
Want to read the Bible, read the Bible. Want to read about whaling trips ... um ... why would you want to do that?
Quick Tip by . August 26, 2010
It's epic, it's grand; and it's thematic import of good and evil are etched indelibly, but it's overlong to be sure.
Quick Tip by . July 16, 2010
I am about a third of the way through after having avoided this novel for awhile. I never realized how amusing Melville could be until I delved into his character descriptions.
Quick Tip by . July 08, 2010
Hard to believe the writer of this American classic died unheralded.
Quick Tip by . July 05, 2010
I think Melville is pretty awesome, and Ahab is an intriguing figure, and there are lots of interesting things in this book. But there's too much about whaling for my tastes.
Quick Tip by . July 04, 2010
Good read
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
Epic story, but can be a bit slow at times.
Quick Tip by . June 30, 2010
who hasnt read this?!
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Moby-Dick, also known as The Whale, is a novel first published in 1851 by American author Herman Melville. Moby-Dick is often referred to as a Great American Novel and is considered one of the treasures of world literature. The story tells the adventures of the wandering sailor Ishmael, and his voyage on the whaleship  Pequod, commanded by Captain Ahab. Ishmael soon learns that Ahab seeks one specific whale, Moby Dick, a ferocious, enigmatic white sperm whale. In a previous encounter, the whale destroyed Ahab's boat and bit off his leg. Ahab intends to take revenge.

In Moby-Dick, Melville employs stylized language, symbolism, and metaphor to explore numerous complex themes. Through the main character's journey, the concepts of class and social status, good and evil, and the existence of gods are all examined as Ishmael speculates upon his personal beliefs and his place in the universe. The narrator's reflections, along with his descriptions of a sailor's life aboard a whaling ship, are woven into the narrative along with Shakespearean literary devices such as stage directions, extended soliloquies and asides.

Often classified as American Romanticism, Moby-Dick was first published by Richard Bentley in London on October 18, 1851 in an expurgated three-volume edition titled The Whale, and weeks later as a single volume, by New York City publisher Harper and Brothers as Moby-Dick; or, The Whale on November 14, 1851. Although the book initially received ...
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Details

ISBN-10: 0553213113
ISBN-13: 978-0553213119
Author: Herman Melville
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Publisher: Bantam Classics
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1984 (British first edition)

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""Call me overrated""
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