(Review) Moby Dick by Herman Melville



Publisher and Publication Date: The photo above of the front cover is NOT the book I own. My book is a green hardcover, old. Published by Grosset & Dunlap. No date is given in the book. My guess is the 1950s. Originally published 1851.
Genre: Classic fiction.
Pages: 633.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: This is a second read-very good. The first time I read the book-excellent.

Supplemental material in my copy is an introduction by Grosset & Dunlap. Also, an etymology, and eleven pages of quotes.

Two men signup on a whaling ship. One of the men is introduced in the first sentence, he is the narrator. The opening line is considered a classic first line.

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago-never mind how long precisely-having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. Page 11.

The story is told through his perspective. He is a young man, and with a focus of something new, an adventure at sea aboard a whaling ship.

According to SparkNotes the time period is the mid 1830s or 1840s.
The whaling ship is the Pequod. The captain is Ahab. Ahab is a man with one leg. He has an obsession with a whale he has named Moby Dick. Moby Dick is a white whale or beluga.

The story is much more than about Moby Dick.
•Life and work at sea aboard a whaler.
•A study of whales.
•The men who make up the crew of the whaling ship. Mixed races aboard the Pequod, this is a theme itself.
•A sermon on Jonah and the whale.
•Ahab and his obsessive vengeance against Moby Dick.

Not a word he spoke; nor did his officers say aught to him; though by all their minutest gestures and expressions, they plainly showed the uneasy, if not painful, consciousness of being under a troubled master-eye. And not only that, but moody stricken Ahab stood before them with a crucifixion in his face; in all the nameless regal overbearing dignity of some might woe. Page 141.

All that most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain; all the subtle demonisms of life and thought; all evil, to crazy Ahab were visibly personified, and made practically assailable in Moby Dick. Page 205.

It’s been several years since I first read Moby Dick. This second time around I gave the book a very good rating. The book didn’t impact me like the first time.
It’s difficult, because I’m sensitive, to read the attack and killing of the whales. A different era, a different culture. Nevertheless, it is tough to read.
The men aboard the whaling ships (other ships are remarked on in the book) have a arduous life.
I’ve read other books about life and work at sea. I recommend Two Years Before The Mast by Richard Henry Dana, Jr.


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