Bill's Reviews > Moby Dick

Moby Dick by Herman Melville
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Jul 08, 08

Recommended for: 19th types who don't know how dearly their whale-oil was bought
Read in May, 2008

After reading the bare minimum that was required to write my high school junior year term paper on this book, I recently had the urge to revisit it.

The first 250 pages had me perpetually on the verge of giving up. I was pleasantly surprised by Melville's humor and progressive outlook and I enjoyed Ishmael's disarming and good-naturedly tolerant narrative. However, this never lasted more than five pages before Melville troweled on some more philosophical expostulations, digressions, asides, musings, etc.

Once the Pequod's crew finally got down to the business of whaling, however, I was fascinated. The endless preamble of quasi-natural philosophizing did enrich and inform Melville's painstaking technical description of the sighting, hunting, harpooning, killing, stripping, and essentially harvesting a whale for its oil, spermacetti, and precious, precious ambergris.

As for the old White Whale revenge plot, I found it a bit underwhelming. Ahab himself remains a wooden character, but at least the interplay between him an his conflicted first mate, Starbuck, makes for an interesting dynamic as the story reaches its now-familiar end.
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