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Herman Melville: Moby Dick, Billy Budd and Other Writings

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  414 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Herman Melville's brilliant works remain vital and provocative for their dark ebullience and visionary power. The sweep of his writings- encompassing ferocious social satire, agonized reflection, and formal experimentation-is represented in this comprehensive edition. Here are Melville's masterpieces: Moby-Dick in its entirety; Billy Budd; "Bartleby, The Scrivener"; "The E ...more
Paperback, 996 pages
Published August 1st 2000 by Library of America (first published 1924)
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Jason Roy
Aug 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This series of books (Library of America College Editions) are well worth the money. They always seem to bind works of varying fame from a given author, thereby ensuring a wide sampling of that author's efforts.
Melville is amazing. I love Moby Dick, from the cryptic chapter devoted to the color white, to the debate about whalesteak, to the ever-present spout on the horizon and the haunting close of the narrative, the rescue of "another orphan". I won't gush and ramble about Melville's religious
May 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: serious readers.
Recommended to Claudia by: Kathy's and my summer read
Woohoo! I finished it! One of the harder books I've read. I felt like Melville needed a strong-fisted editor at times, to keep him focused. Though Ishmael is the 'narrator', the piece is often not in his voice. The lectures on whales and whaling, if we believe Ishmael is self-taught, could be considered in his voice; but the internal monologues of Ahab, Starbuck and the other mates can't be. There's no way another character would be privy to that. And then there are several scenes that Ishmael c ...more
Aug 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
So I've never written a review on Goodreads before, but I feel compelled to after finishing Moby Dick.

It's just that good.

What impressed me most was the style. As long as Ishmael is on land, it's straightforward, clear, and heading toward a goal, like walking down a path. Once he and Queequeg board the Pequod, everything is up for grabs. Sometimes the fog rolls in, sometimes the waves churn, and sometimes we're becalmed for chapters at a time. When there's a particularly dramatic moment coming,
Jul 15, 2008 rated it liked it
I read every page of Moby Dick. The author loves to write pages and pages about things that do not seem interesting, for example the placement of the eyes on the whale, which direction the tail is pointing, etc. The book could have been recuced to a quarter of the book. Yet, I think if you understood all of the imagery that he is trying to get acorss it would be an aamzing book and although I viewed the majority of it boring(I didn't understand all of the symbolism that should be in it) because ...more
May 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
While reading this classic, I often thought of the men on the Pequod and how they might not see land for months at a time. And I felt a kinship with them as I followed Melville on his tangential ramblings about the color white, the parts of a whale, and such. When our good narrator would finally return to the actual storyline, it was a relief, perhaps akin to spotting land after months at sea. That being said, this is a great story, albeit a rather strange one, which gives a lot of insight into ...more
Jun 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
While parts of this were a slog--does anyone love the Cetology chapter?--I found Melville's construct fascinating. He seems to try on various writing styles throughout the book--from research and reportage to free-form stream of consciousness. It's amazing to me that even today, this novel still feels experimental and daring.

I was also amazed by Melville's descriptions of the cultural diversity of the sea ports and whaling crews at that time... whatever sense of openness and diversity we have no
Mar 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
How can one rate Moby Dick less than five stars? What greater quest is there than following Ishmael, a year out at sea with the monomaniac Ahab, after that omnipotent white whale? This novel is so rich in detail, drawing on ancient history, the Bible and modern-day (19th century) social issues, to create a work that truly stands on its own.

This novel portrays a simple quest, yet on a deeper, philosophical level looks at issues such as the role of the individual within his social (racial) class a
Jun 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Literature buffs, romantics, and seafarers everywhere
Recommended to Tim by: Me
Shelves: favourites
Melville, is like "comfort food" for me, and even viewed through modern lenses, his work seems experimental and beyond its time, picking up, in some ways, where Poe left off after his untimely and bizarre demise in 1849. "Whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me that it requires a strong moreal principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off-- then I account it is high time to get" my hands on this book as soon as I can.
Oct 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is clearly an American classic. The writing is incredible but I am finding it tough going. Ishmael's relationship with Queequeg is different than what I remember. But then I don't remember if I have ever read the entire book. I will this time.

Still plodding away. Boy, can Melville write. I will finish this.

Still reading and I am liking it more and more. Of course, I have not gotten to the sperm whale chapter yet. Melville is determined to make me like whaling.
Apr 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
John Huston created a phenomenal and worthwhile film of this symbolic allegory, BUT there is SO MUCH MORE in the literary text missing from the cinema version. -- Melville's narrative encompases brilliant wit and the constant eruption of humor, as well as extensive and fascinating maritime and whaling document and theory. Melville was a pioneer of psychoanalytic insight and symbolism. He is a master of irony, and visual panorama. Audio book read by Paul Boehmer.
Lori Tian Sailiata
Dec 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is about the 5th time that I picked up this book. The time must be right, because I'm amazed at how much I'm finding in it. I love the perspective and the multi-ethnic/-cultural mix of characters. The narrator's voice is quite distinct and the style is of the time...but I think it enhances rather than detracts...but it was one of the reasons that I kept putting it down all those times as well. I now have fresh eyes for it.
Jan 30, 2016 rated it really liked it

It is a grand and eloquently written tale, but suffers from shortcomings which might put off less patient readers - it is at times overly florid and unnecessarily convoluted, the digressions are huge and sometimes uninteresting, making the reader feel he is reading a mid 19th century whaling manual rather than literary work.

If you can see past these, it is an enjoying read.
Aug 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books. The first 15 percent or so is like an adventure story, but after you get through Ishmael and his cannibal boyfriend wrapping their legs around each other, the book really takes off when they set out to sea. Insanity, death, obsession, this is really an Old Testament-style horror novel on the high seas.
Mimi Rowntree
May 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this classic. There is a reason it is used in every English class in America. Melville was incredibly talented and the book is so layered with metaphor it would take a lifetime of study to uncover them all. It is very difficult to get through however. I didn't finish all of the chapters.
Jun 04, 2008 rated it liked it
I finally finished Moby Dick. For me, it had a whole lot of whale detail sandwiched in between some really interesting character development and tragic action scenes. I guess I was mostly frustrated by all the detail. Just when I was getting into the characters and story, it would get interrupted with yet more information about whales.
Karen Lee
Aug 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Literally become immersed in Captain Queeg's obsession with the white whale. This is my all time favorite book as Melville develops the characters and story and spellbinding conclusion. This collection also includes Billy Budd, a tale of innocence lost on the high seas. If you liked the movie Master and Commander with Russell Crowe you will enjoy these stirring tales of the sea.
Kraig Grady
Nov 06, 2009 rated it liked it
I know i am going to get into trouble about not liking certain things about the book. The authors ' research' on whales 'shows' to the extent that it feels stuck in and there is way too much of it. Perhaps it added a certain tension to suspend the story so many times to give us what he found in the encyclopedia but really not all of it was needed.
Jul 24, 2008 rated it liked it
Had to do it. Parts of Moby Dick were good and engaging, but, hey, I am a modern reader. Move on with it. I need to digest it a bit more before I say anything useful, but the character names are superb.
Aug 24, 2008 rated it liked it
There is a reason that this book is long. Whaling takes a long time to do and it is not always exciting. Melville shows you through the mundane life of the sailor what it was like to be on the ship. The story up to him getting on the ship is some of the best fiction writing in English history.
Nov 16, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: classics
I know that I'm "supposed" to find this book filled with symbolism and whatnot just reminds me of the books I was force fed during freshman english. Books that I "read" but could not allow myself to comprehend their deeper meaning.
May 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
There is a problem with attempts to reconcile natural and supernatural claims in the human soul; that is, although we tend to be at odds with nature, we are ultimately subsumed by it, and barred from reasoning back to first causes.
Nov 15, 2007 rated it liked it
I plan to reread this one because I am sure that I will like it more the second time where I can take my time instead of rushing through it in a class that I simply didn't enjoy.
Dec 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I didn't get to Melville until a few years ago. My mind is blown.
Mar 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nautical-fiction
One of my favorite gay sailor books.
May 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Moby Dick the classic of Melville's books.
May 14, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I read Billy Budd and some of the other stories in this book in High School, and really enjoyed them. I never got around to reading Moby Dick, though.
Jun 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Seemed like it took forever to get through this, but well worth it. I wish he would have condensed it a little. Not so many chapters on a topic.
Luke Eastman
Jul 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Still breaking my mind, 23 years after I first read it!
Jul 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Truly great book. What else can I say?
Aug 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
read this in high school. timeless classic. enough said.
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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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