Moby-Dick or, The Whale

Moby-Dick or, The Whale

by Herman Melville

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Overview


First time in Large Print. Moby-Dick, Herman Melville set out to write "a mighty book" on "a mighty theme." In one of the world's greatest adventure stories, a crew of whalers sets out in pursuit of a fierce white whale. Their names ring through the canon of American literature: Ishmael, the narrator; Starbuck, the sober and serious chief mate; and above all Captain Ahab, part Faust and part Job, leading them to the ends of the earth - and the destiny he will share with his foe.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781597229791
Publisher: Gale, A Cengage Company
Publication date: 05/15/2009
Series: Kennebec Large Print Perennial Favorites Collection
Edition description: Large Print
Pages: 774
Sales rank: 629,029
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.80(d)

About the Author

Date of Birth:

August 1, 1819

Date of Death:

September 28, 1891

Place of Birth:

New York, New York

Place of Death:

New York, New York

Education:

Attended the Albany Academy in Albany, New York, until age 15

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Moby Dick or The Whale 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 67 reviews.
PixieChild More than 1 year ago
Should have read this years ago. The book itself was not in as good condition as stated, but still an excellent book to read.
E_Caine More than 1 year ago
Moby Dick is one of those rare novels that captures a particular historical moment while, at the same time, remaining timeless. Gripping drama, tense action, compelling characters and a setting so rarely glimpsed in history - the period in America between the Revolutionary and the Civil Wars. It was a time when America was discovering itself as the characters are discovering themselves. And it was the height of an industry of which, like slavery, we are all still a little ashamed. Whaling was a profitable, dangerous, and engaging occupation for a young man in those days. But when the Captain of your ship is obsessed with taking vengeance on his tormentor it would be an experience you could never forget. Assuming, of course, that you survived. Complicated, compelling, beautifully written, and always a classic, Moby-Dick is a must-read for any American lover of literature.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Who am I to criticize Melville? But after reading, and chuckling, over some of my peer reader's reviews, I'm compelled to balance stars. I'm neither a critic nor literary scholar. I'm just someone who loves good literature, classic or not. Granted, Moby is long and detailed, but I contend it's all necessary and part of the story's framework. The themes are skillfully packaged in abstruse metaphors. And I agree that I had to use lexical aids to get through some of the dated vernacular. I even put down my cheap paperback for a Norton critical edition, but it was worth it. The language is beautiful and artistic. Read a benign chapter to a child and watch their expressions change as their imagination takes over their visage. Moby provides insight into today's archetypes found in pop-culture's 'Spongebob' or 'Pirates of the Caribbean'. Perhaps Moby isn't for everyone. Those who aren't interested in ages long past, historically accurate depictions of bloody exploitation, or ocular criticism of social hypocrisy, should probably stick to the bestseller lists. Entertain your brain. Every chapter is a piece of Melville's puzzle. When taken holistically, it all fits. Slow your monkey mind. Mindfully read. Open your eyes. Moby is still relevant today, especially to you good folks who think you live on that fabled 'City on the Hill'.
KLmesoftly on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love this book. I've read it twice in the past few years, and both times took something new and exciting from the text. The characters are wonderful, the prose gorgeous (I'm continually sucked in by the imagery Melville conjures). I would definitely recommend doing at least some reading on the Transcendentalist and Anti-Transcendentalist movements before picking this up, for some context.
TadAD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I will concede that this is an American classic...even the American classic...only if, in return, I get dispensation from having to finish it.Seriously though, I found the book exhausting and gave up after 250 pages. I think that I needed to be reading this under the care of an expert¿say, a college course¿or, at least, in a heavily annotated version. I was half-overwhelmed by symbology, usually only dimly perceived, thinking I was being taken on a journey through Christian faith toward atheistic rationalism but never quite being able to appreciate fully the scenery along the way. I did enjoy the humor when I encountered it, but did not enjoy the slog through wordiness in between. And...I certainly reached my limit on whaling-ology, a subject I find myself less interested in now than previously.To date, my Melville comprised only Billy Budd, which I did not enjoy. I felt the need to attempt his classic but can now say with reasonable certainty that I am not a Melville fan.
donato on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What's there to say? This is not just about a Whale, but about Life. A seamless blend of adventure, philosophy and documentary. One of the best books EVER.
comfypants on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A harrowing experience. It starts out so promising... and then the story is put on hold and the perspective is abandoned while Melville writes a series of loosely related essays. For hundreds of pages. By the time the story resumes, I couldn't care less about it; I just want to get through it. After coming so far, you can't NOT finish...
axelp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"All visible objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks. But in each event--in the living act, the undoubted deed--there, some unknown but still reasoning thing put forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask. If man will strike, strike through the mask! How can the prisoner reach outside except by thrusting through the wall? To me, the white whale is that wall, shoved near to me. Sometimes I think there's naught beyond. But 'tis enough."
edwinbcn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It has been said, and must be said again, that Moby-Dick is for the large part tedious to read, and only a very small portion of the book, notable the last three chapters are full of fury, and heart-throbbing excitement.The endless succession of page-upon-page of knowledge about whaling, are like the vastness of the oceans, and the huge lapses of time that the voyage of the Pequod takes. The sparse encounters with other ships, emphasize the loneliness at sea, especially the isolation of Ahab. (It is a bit odd they never enter a port.)Early in the novel, we are told that few people understand or appreciate the whaling business, and this oversight is clearly and effectively remedied by including so much knowledge about whaling. Some of this knowledge is clearly needed to read the later chapters in the novel. This part of Melville's novel does what Hemingway's Death in the afternoon does for bull fighting.To understand why bull fighting is heroic, and what is the aesthetic value of it, you need a fair amount of knowledge and an open mind. The sincere, and easy-going friendship between Ishmael and Queequeg, which was probably odd in Melville's day, and might even be unusual in ours, shows what it means to be truly open-minded.There are several moments, when the prose takes the shape of "merry comedy", which breaks the dour seriousness of the novel. The second half of the book seems to allow for more humour, as in:The milk is very sweet and rich; it has been tasted by man; it might do well with strawberries. p.424"What's the matter with your nose, there?" said Stubb. "Broke it?""I wish it was broken, or that I didn't have any nose at all!" (...)"But what are you holding yours for?""Oh, nothing! It's a wax nose; I have to hold it on. Fine day, aint it?" p.442-3With chapter 132 entitled "The symphony", the next three chapters are like movements of a symphony, or acts in a ballet. The dance of the whale is splendid and graceful.The best thing about reading Moby-Dick was to get to the story first-hand, and peel or scratch away all the layers of comment and interpretation of others, that had encrusted the this story from my earliest memories. Finishing this book required some perseverance at times, but was ultimately very rewarding.
tikitu-reviews on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow. Wow wow wow wow wow.This was, at the same time, everything I expected and nothing like what I expected.It's enormous: check. It's full of obsessive detail about sailing and whaling technology and techniques: check. You know the ending: check. It starts with "Call me Ishmael"¿ well, not quite.The biggest surprise about Moby-Dick is how funny it is. The book in fact opens with two sections giving some warning: an `Etymology (Supplied by a Late Consumptive Usher to a Grammar School.)¿ and a selection of `Extracts (Supplied by a Sub-Sub-Librarian.)¿ These last are introduced with the note, ¿It will be seen that this mere painstaking burrower and grub-worm of a poor devil of a Sub-Sub appears to have gone through the long Vaticans and street-stalls of the earth, picking up whatever random allusions to whales he could anyways find in any book whatsoever, sacred or profane,¿ and then continues for twelve pages that fulfill that promise entirely.The humour of the narrator is to show up again and again throughout the novel, as for example in the chapter entitled `Cetology¿, when he classifies the various breeds of whale according to size: Folios (Sperm Whale, Right Whale, Hump-backed Whale, &c), Octavoes (Narwhales, Killer Whales &c) and Duodecimoes (various Porpoises). The chapter ends with a passage that is most certainly going to become an epigraph somewhere in my PhD thesis:It was stated at the outset, that this system would not be here, and at once, perfected. You cannot but plainly see that I have kept my word. But I now leave my cetological System standing thus unfinished, even as the great Cathedral of Cologne was left, with the crane still standing upong the top of the uncompleted tower. For small erections may be finished by their first architects; grand ones, true ones, ever leave the copestone to posterity. God keep me from even completing anything. This whole book is but a draught¿nay, but the draught of a draught. Oh, Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience!Beyond the humour, though, there's a different kind of playfulness at work which also surprised me. It's hinted at, again, by the Etymology and Extracts, but it's still a surprise to see chapters 37 to 40 given in the form of a fragment of playscript, complete with stage directions and the occasional song-and-dance number! There's a more subtle form of stylistic schizophrenia at work as well, that I'm not sure I would have noticed if it wasn't mentioned in the introduction, but that sticks out like a sore thumb once you're alert to it: the narrator moves back and forth between being a real character taking part, and an all-seeing impersonal observer, depending on the varying needs of the author. The character is certainly present, indeed he's the only member of the crew who escapes the sinking of the Pequod, but he comments (in his own unique voice) on events which he cannot have witnessed and on the innermost thoughts of other characters, whenever Melville feels this might be helpful.I'm still surprised that I enjoyed so much a novel that, stylistically speaking, is a poorly edited hodgepodge (it's not only style that wanders about; there are various continuity errors, characters that disappear without explanation or are cavalierly and unexpectedly dismissed, and so on). What carries it is the voice of the narrator, blending the comic and the horrific and the heroic aspects of his situation to perfection. He kept me fascinated by the details of 19th century whaling, which takes some doing.That point deserves some expansion. It's true that a large portion of the novel (perhaps between 20 and 30 percent, from a quick scan of chapter titles) is given over to painstakingly detailed descriptions of whaling procedure, the equipment, the historical appreciation for the craft, and so on and so forth. What this isn't (to my delighted surprise) is dry. It's carried by Melville's enormous enthusiasm for the subject, made visible in the pride and the
lberriman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Too many details about the ships!
upstairsgirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I do not enjoy Melville. I know I should, because he plays with language in a way I normally find very appealing, and I don't think his plots are uninteresting. I... just can't stand the way he writes most of the time, I guess.I had high hopes for Moby Dick, because it starts out very, very funny, and I was hoping I'd learn that I simply hadn't appreciated Melville when I encountered him in high school. But the book quickly gets mired down in hundreds of pages describing the whale. Is the whale a fish or not? What fish is it related to? What fish is it not related to? What is the natural history of the whale? What are some famous whale stories? How do we hunt the whale? What are the mind-numblingly minute details of the whale's anatomy? Of the whale-ship's anatomy? It goes on and on. For hundreds of pages. Every once in a while, they catch a whale, something weird and ominous happens, and/or Ahab behaves like a lunatic. I wish I could say the ending made the long slog worth it, but I just didn't care any more at that point. I was reading to be able to say I'd finished. I wonder if I'd have been able to take Ishmael's rambling more seriously if he hadn't seemed so completely insane and if he hadn't come across as such an unsympathetic character. He is, it appears, the inexperienced one of the crew, and yet not only is that inexperience not used to introduce the reader organically to the world of whaling, but it's neophyte Ishmael himself holding forth at interminable length in incredibly minute detail about everything. It's off-putting, somehow, as if the narrator is bent on making sure the reader feels even more outside the story than he himself is. (This is an interesting trick, but perhaps not an effective one.) It's hard to know how to take Ishmael - the way in which the beginning of the tale is related suggests that Ishmael isn't a reliable narrator, but that's followed by 500 pages of "research" that pleads to be taken incredibly seriously. It was frustrating, and I think it made it impossible for me to pay attention to the story underneath.I don't think it's a bad book, but I just didn't enjoy it much at all, which is disappointing to me. I wanted to like it, I think. I'm glad to have finally read it, but I don't think I'll read it again anytime soon.
littleman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Oh gawd, I couldn't finish this one, either. I've never read anything that has so many irrelevant asides. When Melville concentrates on passages that push the plot forward he's a really vivid and convincing writer, but most of the time he's doing the literary equivalent of a rower who's only got one oar. Maybe I'll try again one day by missing out all the tedious bits about whale anatomy and so forth...
kipp15 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was suprised by how much I loved it. I was surprised by the diversity of the crew and how they were portaryed. I thought I would dread the long time spent on types of whales and how to kil a whale etc. This stuff was actually very interesting because is historical and rich. The story is powerful.
juliabeth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is not the easiest read. The format of the book constantly changes and rambles; it goes slowly, and wraps back around itself. However, if you have the energy to put in, it is an important and worthwhile project.
phaga on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really wanted to like this book. I swear. But the technical jargon was too much for me. I really don't care that much about how a boat works or the hierarchy of the crew unless it has a direct relation to the story being told, which in most cases it didn't. To me, the pacing of this book was horrible. Just as you're getting into it, Herman goes off on a tangent. Still, it's a classic.
RogerRamjet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It took me about four attempts but I finally got through all of Moby Dick, without even skipping the whaling treatises and history parts. And it was worth it. The effort to assimiilate all of the information that Melville throws at the reader, together with the nationalities of the crew of the Pequod truly adds up to a feeling that the whole world, the reader included, is hunting and battling the whale, and that, by punching through that mask, something worth discovering is waiting on the other side.
GomezGarciaGonzalez on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A bit dated, but great nonetheless.
jwhenderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
...it seemed as if this were the Loom of Time, and I myself were a shuttle mechanically weaving and weaving away at the Fates. There lay the fixed threads of the warp subject to but one single, ever returning, unchanging vibration, and that vibration merely enough to admit of the crosswise interblending of other threads with its own. This warp seemed necessity; and here, thought I, with my own hand I ply my own shuttle and weave my own destiny into these unalterable threads. (p 213) When one reads the first line of Moby-Dick, "Call me Ishmael.", he does not realize that the story about to unfold, a narrative that will include lessons in whaling and the mysteries of the deep, is already set in stone so to speak. Nor does he realize that he is about to embark upon a journey with the narrator, Ishmael, that will, more than five hundred pages later, tell him that "This whole act's immutably decreed." (p 548) The 'Loom of Time' described in the epigraph above is indeed fixed and Ishmael's, and our own, weaving has independence only in our dreams. The unchanging nature of fate, its existence and our subjection by it is part of the story. Not even as men are are described as philosophers with their Faustian striving (p 51) do they manage to avoid that which fate holds for their lives. The vicissitudes of life are ever present in this sea story and vivid as they are they do not detract from the omnipresent nature of fate. Melville is poetic in his characterization of this aspect of our lives in the following passage from Chapter 60: Again: as the profound calm which only apparently precedes and prophesies of the storm, is perhaps more awful than the storm itself; for, indeed, the calm is but the wrapper and envelope of the storm; and contains it in itself, as the seemingly harmless rifle holds the fatal powder, and the ball, and the explosion; so the graceful repose of the line, as it silently serpentines about the oarsmen before being brought into actual play -- this is a thing which carries more of true terror than any other aspect of this dangerous affair. But why say more? All men live enveloped in whale-lines. All are born with halters around their necks; but it is only when caught in the swift , sudden turn of death, that mortals realize the silent, subtle, ever-present perils of life. And if you be a philosopher, though seated in the whale-boat, you would not at heart feel one whit more of terror, than though seated before your evening fire with a poker, and not a harpoon, by your side." (pp 280-1) In Melville's tale the warp and woof of life is always present in one form or another, whether discerned by the men who go whaling or stay home. We readers can only wonder at the progress of the tale and the lives therein; and try to make use of the lessons for our own life. For we are one with Ahab, at least it seems to be so, as if life is a game like this passage from the end of Chapter 118: "Well, well; I heard Ahab mutter, 'Here some one thrusts these cards into these old hands of mine; swears that I must play them, and no others.' And damn me, Ahab, but thou actest right; live in the game, and die in it!" (p 490)
red.yardbird on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Finally got around to reading this one - and I can see why it's a classic! There's not too many books that I've got on a list to re-read one day but this is one.
charlie68 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The writing is first rate and the plot enveloping. Although there is a lot of chapters that dont have anything to do with the plot it gives a very indepth look at the whaling industry in the early to mid nineteenth century.
SmartTed on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
So much more than a story about a man chasing a whale. The language is amazingly beautiful and so much of it is funny in ways I hadn't expected. I would recommend this to anyone who likes dense, luscious writing.
farnsworthk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Knowing that I would never actually finish the book if I read it, I listened to the audiobook - all 24 hours of it! It is extremely well narrated. That said, it was mostly a terribly boring book. I loved the beginning when the protagonist meets Queequeg. The descriptions of whaling were also interesting, but it got really bogged down in the middle of the story and I really didn't care about what happened in the end. I am glad to have "read" the book, but it was a chore.
baswood on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
5) Moby-Dick by Herman MelvilleThis was my second reading of Moby-Dick and I still do not love the book! So much has been written about it since it regularly features in lists of the top 50 best books ever written and top ten lists of American novels. Moby-Dick has not always been a critical success and received mixed reviews when published in 1851. It was only with the advent of modernism some 70 years later, that it's perceived difficulties were seen as strengths and forerunners to the modernist movement. D H Lawrence was amongst the first of the British critics to acclaim it as a work of the first order. The difficulties that were apparent in that first publication are still there in the book today and although the modern reader will have absorbed many of them, for example; fragmentation of plot, use of intertextuality and themes of loss and madness, they still give the feel of a novel pushing the boundaries, almost experimental in its conception. A major theme of the novel is the collection and use of knowledge as exemplified by many chapters on the anatomy, nature, habitat and man's use of the living and dead whale. There are chapters too on the workings of a whale ship and details of the hazards in chasing their prey in the small whale boats. These chapters are interspersed with the narrative of Ahab's obsession with killing Moby-Dick and so there is a juxtaposition between the hunt for the white whale and a quest for knowledge. The information chapters then feed into the narrative and are themselves driven by it; the quest and the hunt. Rarely are the information/knowledge chapters less than fascinating reading. The narrator Ishmael/Melville's kleptomaniac use of metaphors, the richness of the prose and engrossing facts about whales and whaling should hold many readers attention while waiting for the story to continue. Some of Melville's best writing can be found in these chapters, for example "The Whiteness of the Whale""Bethink thee of the albatross: whence come those clouds of spiritual wonderment and pale dread, in which that white phantom sails in the imagination? Not Coleridge first threw that spell: but God';s great, unflattering laureate, NatureMost famous in our Western annals and Indian traditions is that of the White Steed of the Prairies; a magnificent milk-white charger, large-eyed, small-headed, bluff-chested, and with the dignity of a thousand monarchs in his lofty, overscorning carriage. He was the elected Xerxes of vast herds of wild horses, whose pastures in those days were only fenced by the Rocky Mountains and the Alleghanies......."This quest for knowledge allows Melville to display his own knowledge of literature, of which he takes full advantage. However engrossing these chapters may be they do interrupt the narrative flow and this has been perceived as one of the difficulties in reading Moby-Dick. Melville's syntax also presents some difficulties: all those commas. When reading I naturally pause when I come to a comma, but there are so many in patches of Melville's prose that it makes some sentences seem disjointed and ungainly.It was a hard life on board a whaleship with voyages lasting three or four years as the search for whales to fill the casks with oil became more difficult, it was an environment where death was not unusual. It should be no surprise then that Melville; a whale man himself should not populate the Pequod with sympathetic characters. Only Starbuck and Queequeg are allowed to show much humanity; the narrator Ishmael of the famous first line becomes almost a non character when the Pequod leaves harbour. There is no love, no female characters and very little sense of finer feelings. This is indeed a man's world."You don't have to be crazy to work here, but it helps" was a popular slogan pinned to many work notice boards in the 1970's. It would certainly apply to the Pequod. Ahab the monomaniacal captain afflicted with his "fatal pride" is almost totally insane, his harpooneer Fed
checkadawson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the classics of American literature. Filled with an adventurous spirit.