Silvana's Reviews > Moby Dick

Moby Dick by Herman Melville
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Feb 24, 2016

liked it
bookshelves: classics, used-to-own, donated, deep-blue-sea
Read in September, 2008

This book is not as adventurous as I thought before. It turns out to be even more. If you're a biology freak, you'll love this book. Maybe one-fourth part is about whale anatomy, especially sperm whale. Blubber, bones, spouts, nose, teeth, fins, you name it. References from numerous books about whales are included.

Another one-fourth is about the technical details of a whaling-ship, the tools used to catch a whale and the process of getting oil out of it. Kinda gross and horrible. Poor whales. I don't want to be a whale in those days (1850s). Maybe the only thing I ever love from a whaling ship is that the journey seems to be more lively compared with slave-ship, a ship-of-war, or a merchant ship. Moreover, one whale ship seemed to be always in the most friendly term with another.

Another one-fourth is basically a description followed by reflection on the crews and officers, especially their infamous captain, Ahab, who swore that he would chase the whale that had made him lose one leg (also destroyed his pride, I suppose) until the end of the world. The words used are so poetic, the narrative is filled with soliloquies, which will become awfully boring and unpractical if used in modern days.

The last one-fourth is the adventure part. Yay, finally ;p
Of which, kinda exhilarating. The life dynamics in the ship, which is named Pequod, were great. I have to say that Melville should have give more length to this part of the book, because I still think there's much to be told, such as the interaction between the crews and the exotic pagan harpooners (who does not love Queequeg anyway). Blame me not, I love adventurous stories.

However, Melville had his own reason. He did not want Moby Dick to become a mere adventure story. Definitely not. It is also not a "preachy" book that told us not to drag innocent people into our own dark ambition, like Ahab. It is more than that. It gives us a more thorough explanation on how it feels to become a whaling-ship crew, how it feels to have a voyage around the world to seek whales (and what not) plus what is this Leviathan called whale really about.

It took me a month to finish this book. Yeah, it's not THAT long, only 540 pages or something. A bit tiresome (especially with the biology lesson and technical details), but it's worth it. The climax/ending is breathtaking, I assure you.
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02/24 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Rodney (new)

Rodney I'm very surprised by this review. While reading it, you mentioned the story had a type of poetic quality to it, which really surprised me. I've yet to read the book, but figured it was about an obsessed man trying to catch "the big one." So, when I read it has poetic qualities, I was quite intrigued!

But, after reading your review, It seems like Melville went to exceptional lengths to lay a base foundation of details, before getting into the part everyone was waiting for: the adventure!

I think you said it very well when you stated Melville did not want a mere adventure story, but wanted to educate us just enough to allow us to feel and understand what life must have been like for both the whale hunters and, surprisingly, whales' points of view. (afterall, you learned enough to know you did NOT want to be a whale during that period).

Now I'm looking forward to this book even more. I was meeting friends for dinner later. Now I will ask them to meet at Plaza Senayan, so I can go to my favorite bookstore and pick up a copy of this book!

As usual, you have given a very insightful review!

message 2: by Silvana (last edited Oct 09, 2008 01:26AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Silvana Thanks! Glad that you like the review. Not an easy reading when the author ran to and fro about whale anatomy, I warn thee, but as I've just said to one of my friends, this book has an "x" factor making it stand the test of time.

PS: Lucky that we, Jakartans, have Kinokuniya di Plaza Senayan and Grand Indonesia. Both branches have excellent collection of classics.

take care,

message 3: by Rodney (new)

Rodney Yes! Kinokuniya is my favorite book store. I love the huge collection of books in English there!

I've not been to the one at Grand Indonesia (a shame, since I live only 7 minutes drive from it in Menteng).

Which location has the larger bookstore?

Silvana Menteng? LOL, my office is in Menteng too.
Anyway, the larger one is in plaza senayan, but the one in Grand Indonesia is okay. Wait...and they have another one in Plaza Indonesia across the street too, I just remembered that.
We used to have a very nice, homey QB bookstore in Pondok Indah but the company was apparently in the brink of bankruptcy so now they only have one store in Kemang, of which I've never visited.

message 5: by Rodney (new)

Rodney I was told there used to be a QB at Sarinah, next to the Bakmi GM? (I've never seen it). I have seen the QB in Kemang many times when going to Kemang. My friends say it is cozy (spelling?) lol

I love the Plaza Senayan location, as I can grab my mocha frappucino at Starbucks and start reading my newly purchased book hahaha.

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