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Moby-Dick or, the Whale

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3.51  ·  Rating details ·  481,214 ratings  ·  15,785 reviews
"It is the horrible texture of a fabric that should be woven of ships' cables and hawsers. A Polar wind blows through it, and birds of prey hover over it."

So Melville wrote of his masterpiece, one of the greatest works of imagination in literary history. In part, Moby-Dick is the story of an eerily compelling madman pursuing an unholy war against a creature as vast and da
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Paperback, 654 pages
Published February 21st 2003 by Penguin Classics (first published October 18th 1851)
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Jose Frias Corrales I have started reading Moby Dick for the second time. I have a habit of writing the dates I start and end a book on the first page. The first time I r…moreI have started reading Moby Dick for the second time. I have a habit of writing the dates I start and end a book on the first page. The first time I read Moby Dick I started on May 1, 2004, and ended it April 5, 2006. That's almost two years! My goal, this time, is to finish the book in one month, wish me luck!(less)
Karysa Ella Joy The "whiteness" of the whale is meant to represent the terrifying "nothingness" that creeps up upon everyone at some point. This is an example of exis…moreThe "whiteness" of the whale is meant to represent the terrifying "nothingness" that creeps up upon everyone at some point. This is an example of existentialism because Ahab is desperate to find God and prove to himself that life isn't just a practical joke on us all and that suffering isn't meaningless. When Ahab talks about "pushing through the mask" its really just his way of saying he wants to conquer Moby-Dick, conquer the "nothingness," and discover if God is real and whether or not he is good. (less)

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Average rating 3.51  · 
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Matt
Sep 08, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: People I despise
Shelves: classic-novels
LISA: Dad, you can't take revenge on an animal. That's the whole point of Moby Dick.
HOMER: Oh Lisa, the point of Moby Dick is 'be yourself.'

-- The Simpsons, Season 15, Episode 5, “The Fat and the Furriest”

(Ahoy, Matey! Thar be spoilers ahead).

There, there. Stop your crying. You didn’t like Herman Melville’s Moby Dick? You didn't even finish it? I’m here to tell you, that’s okay. You’re still a good person. You will still be invited to Thanksgiving dinner. You won’t be arrested, incarcerated, or
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Michael Finocchiaro
I re-read Moby-Dick following my research trips to the whaling museums of New Bedford and Nantucket whaling museums. The particular edition I read from University of California Press is HIGHLY recommended as the typeface is extremely agreeable to the eyes and the illustrations are subtle and instructive without ever interfering or drawing attention away from the story. Perhaps that’s where the latent interest grew deep in my soul as regards the whaling museums and since life offered me recently ...more
Jason
“Where the White Whale, yo?”

Ah, my first DBR. And possibly my last, as this could be a complete shit show. Approaching a review of Moby-Dick in a state of sobriety just wasn’t cutting it, though. So let’s raise our glasses to Option B, yeah?

I fucking love this book. It took me eight hundred years to read it, but it was so, so worth it. Melville’s writing is impeccable. The parallels he draws, even when he’s seemingly pulling them out of his ass, which I swear to God he’s doing, because who can f
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Jamie
Aug 03, 2008 rated it did not like it
So, Herman Melville's Moby Dick is supposed by many to be the greatest Engligh-language novel ever written, especially among those written in the Romantic tradition. Meh.

It's not that I don't get that there's a TON of complexity, subtlety, and depth to this book about a mad captain's quest for revenge against a great white whale. And on the surface it's even a pretty darn good adventure story. And, honestly, Melville's prose is flowing, elegant, and as beautiful as any writing can possibly be. I
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karen
Apr 08, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: littry-fiction
i tried.

Both ends of the line are exposed; the lower end terminating in an eye-splice or loop coming up from the bottom against the side of the tub, and hanging over its edge completely disengaged from everything. This arrangement of the lower end is necessary on two accounts. First: In order to facilitate the fastening to it of an additional line from a neighboring boat, in case the stricken whale should sound so deep as to threaten to carry off the entire line originally attached to the harpoo
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Sean Barrs
Jul 20, 2015 rated it did not like it
I hate this book so much. It is impossible to ignore the literary merit of this work though; it is, after all, a piece of innovative literature. Melville broke narrative expectations when he shed the narrator Ishmael and burst through with his infinite knowledge of all things whale. It was most creative, but then he pounded the reader with his knowledge of the whaling industry that could, quite literally, fill several textbooks. This made the book so incredibly dull. I’m not being naïve towards ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
896. Moby-Dick = The Whale, Herman Melville

Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is a novel by American writer Herman Melville, published in 1851 during the period of the American Renaissance.

Sailor Ishmael tells the story of the obsessive quest of Ahab, captain of the whaler Pequod, for revenge on Moby Dick, the white whale that on the previous whaling voyage bit off Ahab's leg at the knee.

The novel was a commercial failure and out of print at the time of the author's death in 1891, but during the 20th ce
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David
Jan 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
There once was a grouchy alpha whale named Moby Dick who -- rather than being agreeably shorn of his blubber and having lumpy sperm scooped out of his cranium like cottage cheese -- chose life. Unlike so many shiftless, layabout sea mammals of his generation, Moby Dick did not go gentle into that good night. This whale, in short, was not a back-of-the-bus rider. He assailed a shallow, consumerist society, which objectified him only as lamp oil or corset ribbing, with the persuasive argument of h ...more
Nataliya
I was that precocious brat who first read the whale-esque sized Moby-Dick at the age of nine. Why? I had my reasons, and they were twofold:
(1) I was in the middle of my "I love Jacques Cousteau!" phase, and this book had a picture of a whale on the cover.
(2) It was on the bookshelf juuuuust above my reach, and so obviously it was good because it was clearly meant to be not for little kids¹, and that made my little but bloated ego very happy.
¹ So, in retrospect, were War and Peace and Le Père Go
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Matt

So... I just finished it a couple of days ago and pretty much everything else pales in comparison.

About three hundred pages in, it was already in my top ten favorite novels of all time, and it didn't disappoint (much)as I continued reading. I actually deliberately drew out getting to the ending so I could savor the last few hundred pages or so. Damn. What a doozy.

What can really be said about this book which hasn't been said before?

A couple of major points that bear mentioning...

* It's dense.
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Barry Pierce
OH MY HOLY MOTHER FUCK. This novel, this FUCKING novel. Phenomenal. Astounding. Groundbreaking. One of the greatest novels ever written. Yeah there's like 200 pages of whale anatomy and the history of whales in literature and whales in art and whale classification and I LOVED EVERY SINGLE WORD OF IT. So it's five-stars. Yes, five-stars. A five-star rating here is as rare as seeing the White Whale itself! READ THIS RIGHT FUCKING NOW. NOW. NOW. NOW.
Robin
Holy mackerel! I made it! I survived these cold, salty, surprisingly DRY waters. I didn't completely drown (though several times I needed CPR), I didn't perish at sea, tricked by the siren call of "literary masterpiece".

I've avoided the whale for years now, and would have continued to swim around it, to ignore its thick spine shaming me from my bookcase... but I have this friend, this very kind and dignified friend who bought me a copy a few years ago (it being his very favourite book of all tim
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J.G. Keely
Mar 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In 1819 in Manhattan, a strange trial was commencing. A merchant of that great city had been found in possession of barrels of spermacetti, the fine-quality oil which may be obtained from the head of the Sperm Whale. When an inspector demanded he pay the proper taxes on his goods, the merchant, who apparently made a hobby of science, declared that he had no fish product in his possession, and so the tax did not apply. He was duly arrested and, contending the charges, a trial was begun to determi ...more
Lea
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“And God created great whales.” —Genesis.

And Melville created a great American novel!
What a classic of American literature. I was postponing this review because at the same time there so too much to be said about this complex work and yet I feel it’s quite hard to grasp the core of its brilliance.

First of all, this book was so unevenly written that I was wondering at times a) am I reading the same author b) is this the same book. In its versatility, it is the most unique book I’ve ever read, an
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Esteban del Mal
Everyone eventually comes across the White Whale in one form or another. The trick is to not keep its attention for too long.

*****

Avast! Dost thee have a five spot thou can see thyself parting ways with?

No?

Jibberjab up the wigwam! Cuisinart the poopdeck!

What's that ye say? Thou canst not make heads nor tails of what I sayeth?

Here then. Let me take this pipe outta my mouth and stop menacing you with this harpoon. Better? Good.

Huh? No, no! Ho-ho! I wasn't asking for money! I was asking if you've
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Lyn
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
“Call me Ishmael.”

– OK, even those who have not read Melville’s words, know about this iconic beginning. Why Ishmael? Why not.

“Consider the subtleness of the sea; how its most dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the most part, and treacherously hidden beneath the loveliest tints of azure. Consider also the devilish brilliance and beauty of many of its most remorseless tribes, as the dainty embellished shape of many species of sharks. Consider, once more, the universal cannibalis
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Luffy
Jun 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
Is there a polite version of saying 'I hope you're roasting in hell since you died Herman Melville!'? If there's not, there should be...Screw you, Melville.

Once on Imdb (books section), I saw some yahoo saying to a naysayer of Moby Dick "It's your loss". The naysayer replied sarcastically. "My loss? On no. What will my boss and my wife and friends think of me when I tell them I gave Moby Dick 1 star?". That's my feeling as well.

This book is only for the pedants, the elite of snootiness, many of
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Stephen
This was the first CLASSIC I ever read strictly for pleasure...

And I really, really enjoyed it...for the most part (see below).

While recognizing its hallowed place among the canon of world literature, I was still surprised, pleasantly so, at how captivated I became with the novel from the very beginning. Instantly, I loved the character of Ishmael and was amused by his unconventional introduction in the novel. Forced for economic reasons to share a room at in inn with a complete stranger, descr
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Agnieszka

Ishmael,
as now we finally got to know each other I allowed myself to scribble some words to you. At first, I wanted to thank you for your fascinating report from your voyage. I had heard, always from second hand, many accounts about that what happened to you and your companions. Some claimed that it was stupidity and unbelievable bravado to chase after that Moby Dick. Others maintained that it was manful adventure and none landlubber would ever be able to understand that. Anyway, I’m glad that I
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Adam Dalva
Jun 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Totally extraordinary - both poles of its critical reception shock me: the half-century of complete obscurity and its current status as a G.A.N.. Because this is one weird book. It's a perfect example of experimental form melding with and amplifying content. Ishmael's fundamental digressiveness and lexicographic drive allows H.M. the room to get all the way into the particulars of his research. It's a treat - and I think, necessarily, a lost thing - to read a book that is so proud of, that RELIS ...more
Candi
"Aye, aye! And I’ll chase him round Good Hope, and round the Horn, and round the Norway Maelstrom, and round perdition’s flames before I give him up. And this is what ye have shipped for, men! To chase that white whale on both sides of land, and over all sides of earth, till he spouts black blood and rolls fin out." - Captain Ahab

Stripped of its multitude of digressions, Moby-Dick is at heart a fantastic adventure and literary treasure brimming with symbolism and some of the most colorful and me
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Glenn Sumi
What can I say about this great American novel that hasn’t already been said by generations of readers and academics?

Moby-Dick is as mammoth, mysterious and elusive as the enormous white whale that gives the book its name. The opening line (“Call me Ishmael”) is one of the most famous in all literature. And even people who’ve never read it are familiar with the peg-legged, vengeance-seeking Captain Ahab, the archetype for any maniacally obsessed leader.

What makes the novel so fascinating is how
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Paul Bryant
Sep 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
There's an old 1950s science fiction story in which aliens have taken over Earth and now wish to learn everything about the human race. But they can't tell what's important and what's trivial, yet. So to be on the safe side, they employ people to read every single book ever published and summarise its main points. And the story is a day in the life of one of these readers. And he's got Moby Dick. And what he writes on the file index card is :

Nineteenth century knowledge about cetaceans, particul
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Forrest
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wanna know a secret? Lean over here and I’ll tell you: This is the first time I’ve read Moby Dick. No lie. 43 years old, never read it. That assignment in high school? Skipped it. Faked the report. Thank you, Cliff Notes. By that, I mean the guy named Cliff in my English class. He owed me a favor. A whale of a favor . . . And college? Bachelor’s degree in Humanities – I had to have read Moby Dick, right? Wrong. Just snippets. Excerpts. Then, feeling the guilt of being an educated American who ha ...more
Brad
Mar 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A public house in Pittsfield, Mass. Two men are at the bar: the bearded man stands, the mustachioed man sits. They take a drink of ale and the bearded man speaks.

Melville: I'm doing it. I've decided.

Hawthorne: Doing what?

Melville: Writing my sodomy book.

Hawthorne: Herman...

Melville: Nathaniel...

Hawthorne: It is unwise.

Melville: Well...it's about sodomites more than sodomy.

Hawthorne: Why would you do this?

Melville: Sodomy exists, Nathaniel, and someone needs to write about it. It might as well
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Daniel Clausen
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Chapter 1. Call Me Daniel

Call me Daniel. Some years ago--never mind how long precisely--having little money in my bank account, and nothing particular to interest me in the world of mortals, I thought I would pick up a classic book and see a little bit of the literary world. It is a habit I have of chasing away adulthood and the drudgery of office life. Whenever I find myself involuntarily thinking about ditching town or becoming a beach bum; whenever the temptation to live in a Winnebago by th
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Jan-Maat
first introduction
I read years ago about a monster marathon reading of Moby Dick in the USA, volunteers would each read a chapter aloud and they would get through the book in maybe two and a half days, where they read I do not remember, not in Nantucket or New Bedford I think, but probably in New England - which gives you better odds of finding such a reading than Ahab had in searching for the White Whale. Surprisingly such readings haven't become a major spectator sport, nor even a matter of r
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Alex
It's about a whale eventually. Before that it's a gay romantic comedy. "In our hearts’ honeymoon," says Ishmael, "lay I and Queequeg – a cosy, loving pair." If you never made it past page 100, because you were assigned this in high school and it was boring, you might wonder where the whale even is. Where's this majestic tome everyone's yelling about?

About a quarter in, captain Ahab shows up raving about Moby-Dick and the book takes this intense lurch into legend, and it feels like a pretty radi
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Chloe
Dec 10, 2009 rated it it was ok
I have to admit to a long-standing curiosity about Moby-Dick (not least of which is why the albino whale’s name is hyphenated in the title but just plain Moby Dick in the text itself). I read and loved a Reader’s Digest condensed version (gasps of dismay echo across the Metaverse at this news) of this book around second grade and have always wondered what the arbiters of taste at Reader’s Digest decided to leave on the cutting room floor. Could it have been an illicit love scene between Ishmael ...more
Matt
Jun 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
When my reading group chose this book to serve as one of our monthly requirements, I cringed. After learning it was being allocated two months (giving people longer to read and analyse it), I shivered even more. Classics are not usually my thing and this book has been one I have heard much about, told of its tangential nature and dense nature, leaving me a tad ill at ease. However, like a good reading soldier, I prepared myself and forged into it, nose plugged and hoping for the best from Herman ...more
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There is more than one author with this name

Herman Melville was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. His first two books gained much attention, though they were not bestsellers, and his popularity declined precipitously only a few years later. By the time of his death he had been almost completely forgotten, but his longest novel, Moby Dick — largely considered a failure d
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