Moby Dick

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Encyclopaedia britannica, 1892 - Adventure stories - 420 pages
297 Reviews
A literary classic that wasn't recognized for its merits until decades after its publication, Herman Melville's Moby-Dick tells the tale of a whaling ship and its crew, who are carried progressively further out to sea by the fiery Captain Ahab. Obsessed with killing the massive whale, which had previously bitten off Ahab's leg, the seasoned seafarer steers his ship to confront the creature, while the rest of the shipmates, including the young narrator, Ishmael, and the harpoon expert, Queequeg, must contend with their increasingly dire journey. The book invariably lands on any short list of the greatest American novels.
 

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Moby-Dick is one of our greatest and most enduring works. The physically and psychologically scarred Ahab's at-any-cost pursuit of the white whale is a riveting tale with considerable philosophical ... Read full review

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The story is great, the plot, the characters and the underlying meaning are ingenious, a 19th century story of hubris. Ahab's ego against the deeper totality that made itself manifest in nature including the white whale Moby Dick. But the style of writing is so arcane and there is so much pointless verbiage thrown in that it spoils the book. It must have been written before there were editors.I got as far as half way through before throwing in the towel after too many sentences that I found incomprehensible. If you don't mind reading a book that is only fifty percent comprehensible then I suppose it's okay, but I like to understand what I read. As to those snobs who claim they understood every word then I say they're pretentious liars. I know someone with a post graduate degree in literature who admits that they couldn't understand it and that it was difficult for people to understand even in the time that it was first published. 

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Page 538 - In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.
Page 541 - To hang their momentary fires Amid the vault of heaven. So, fire with water to compare, The ocean serves, on high Up-spouted by a whale in air, To express unwieldy joy.
Page 7 - 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 540 - Tempest the ocean : there leviathan, Hugest of living creatures, on the deep Stretched like a promontory, sleeps or swims, And seems a moving land ; and at his gills Draws in, and at his trunk spouts out, a sea.
Page 539 - For by art is created that great LEVIATHAN called a COMMONWEALTH, or STATE (in Latin, CIVITAS), which is but an artificial man...
Page 54 - I was a good Christian ; born and bred in the bosom of the infallible Presbyterian Church. How then could I unite with this wild idolator in worshipping his piece of wood? But what is worship ? thought I. Do you suppose now, Ishmael that the magnanimous God of heaven and earth — pagans and all included — can possibly be jealous of an insignificant bit of black wood ? Impossible ! But what is worship ? — to do the will of God — that is worship.
Page 169 - I, ISHMAEL, was one of that crew; my shouts had gone up with the rest; my oath had been welded with theirs; and stronger I shouted, and more did I hammer and clinch my oath, because of the dread in my soul. A wild, mystical, sympathetical feeling was in me; Ahab's quenchless feud seemed mine.
Page 295 - Thou saw'st the locked lovers when leaping from their flaming ship ; heart to heart they sank beneath the exulting wave ; true to each other, when heaven seemed false to them. Thou saw'st the murdered mate when tossed by pirates from the midnight deck ; for hours he fell into the deeper midnight of the insatiate maw ; and his murderers still sailed on unharmed — while swift lightnings shivered the neighbouring ship that would have borne a righteous husband to outstretched, longing arms. O head...
Page 43 - With speed he flew to my relief, As on a radiant dolphin borne; Awful, yet bright, as lightning shone The face of my Deliverer God. "My song for ever shall record That terrible, that joyful hour; I give the glory to my God, His all the mercy and the power.
Page 533 - ... and so the bird of heaven, with archangelic shrieks, and his imperial beak thrust upwards, and his whole captive form folded in the flag of Ahab, went down with his ship, which, like Satan, would not sink to hell till she had dragged a living part of heaven along with her, and helmeted herself with it.

About the author (1892)

Herman Melville is a major figure in American literature, largely due to his revered nautical novel Moby-Dick. As a young New Yorker, Melville developed wanderlust and headed for the high seas. Writing about his adventures in the South Pacific led to his debut, Typee, but after this popular book, Melville's success declined. Later works, particularly Moby-Dick, weren't wholeheartedly embraced until well after Melville's death, with resounding acknowledgement not arriving until the early 20th century.


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