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Moby-Dick; or, The Whale

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  462,451 ratings  ·  14,598 reviews
First published in 1851, Melville's masterpiece is, in Elizabeth Hardwick's words, "the greatest novel in American literature." The saga of Captain Ahab and his monomaniacal pursuit of the white whale remains a peerless adventure story but one full of mythic grandeur, poetic majesty, and symbolic power. Filtered through the consciousness of the novel's narrator, Ishmael, ...more
Paperback, 896 pages
Published October 10th 2000 by Modern Library (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…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…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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Sep 08, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 didnt like Herman Melvilles Moby Dick? You didn't even finish it? Im here to tell you, thats okay. Youre still a good person. You will still be invited to Thanksgiving dinner. You wont be arrested, incarcerated, or exiled.
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 wasnt cutting it, though. So lets 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. Melvilles writing is impeccable. The parallels he draws, even when hes seemingly pulling them out of his ass, which I swear to God hes doing, because who can find
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 thats where the latent interest grew deep in my soul as regards the whaling museums and since life offered me recently ...more
Aug 03, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Sean Barrs The Ultra Vegan
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. Im not being naïve towards ...more
Jan 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...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

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.
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 kids, and that made my little but bloated ego very happy.
So, in retrospect, were War and Peace and Le Père
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 ...more
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?


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
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.
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Call me Ishmael.

OK, even those who have not read Melvilles 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 cannibalism of
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
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,

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, Im glad that I
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 ...more
Jun 14, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
"Aye, aye! And Ill chase him round Good Hope, and round the Horn, and round the Norway Maelstrom, and round perditions 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
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wanna know a secret? Lean over here and Ill tell you: This is the first time Ive 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? Bachelors 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 had ...more
Paul Bryant
Sep 27, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
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:'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
Daniel Clausen
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
I have to admit to a long-standing curiosity about Moby-Dick (not least of which is why the albino whales name is hyphenated in the title but just plain Moby Dick in the text itself). I read and loved a Readers 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 Readers Digest decided to leave on the cutting room floor. Could it have been an illicit love scene between Ishmael and ...more
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
Nov 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fuck me with a mincing knife such that I shit banana splits, but is this the most lushly, gorgeously written sea-skein of supernal and scotopic skaldic skill ever set to run before the trade winds for a voyage of six hundred and twenty-five pearlescent pages? Could aught be a more ariose attar of tars in cetological skin, a testimonial to the Old Testament wherein the primal and subcutaneous have pride of place and the canvas of the watery sprawl infinitely spread about the buffeted body shivers ...more
Book Review
Imagine being back in 1851 when Herman Melville published Moby-Dick, previously known as "The Whale." America was close to civil war. People and classes struggled against everything going on in their lives. No one had answers. It was a constant fight between the right thing and the wrong thing. And thus was born the giant struggle at the core of this book... it's not about trying to capture a whale or giant fish. It's what everything in the book symbolizes. But that's just the
da AL
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-literary
the best opening line ever! & hey, one can always skip some of the whale pages...
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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

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