Rick's Reviews > Moby-Dick

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
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Aug 13, 12

Read in August, 2012

I chose Moby-Dick as my beach read this summer. This is one I should have read in high school but didn't. Everyone knows the storyline: A sailor describes a mad ship captain out to slay a white whale but ends up being slain by same. It's just that Melville takes 655 pages to tell the tale.

This edition contains a strong introduction, notes, and an author bio which I read ahead of time. These ancillary pieces helped prep me for the book. Melville blends a lot of documentary material into the novel as he discusses whales, whaling, whale ships, the strategy and tactics of whaling, the anatomy of whales, and other related subjects. Most of this was rather entertaining, but could sometimes become a bit tedious.

As a side note: the 1956 movie adaptation of Moby-Dick starring Gregory Peck is on YouTube and was another interesting way to experience this story. Ray Bradbury wrote the screenplay along with director John Huston.

One of my favorite chapters of both the movie and the novel was when the ship was aglow with St. Elmo's fire. [Chapter 119] This natural though uncommon phenomenon would even today be seen as an omen by many who would not necessarily describe themselves as superstitious. I was also surprised at how often Melville used biblical allusion to drive the story. It seems he himself was not particularly a man of faith although he certainly had a command of Scripture.
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07/10/2012 page 242
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