D.A. Cairns's Reviews > Moby-Dick, or, the Whale

Moby-Dick, or, the Whale by Herman Melville
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it was amazing

It's hard to know where to start. Moby Dick is a famous book, and even those who have not read it know the story of the the old tar, Ahab and his obsession with finding and killing the great white sperm whale who took his leg in their last confrontation. However Melville has done much more than write a novel of obsession and revenge. It's also an encyclopedia about whales, examining in great detail the prevailing scientific knowledge about whales at that time, and also whales in mythology. The scope and depth of this novel is breathtaking.

Furthermore, Melville provides such an intimate and accurate portrayal of the whaling business, including the ships, equipment and the incredible men who work on them, that the reader is, or this reader was, left quite stunned and incredulous.

As with as well all classic novels, the vocabularic depth and syntactic complexity make reading a little challenging at times, but if one takes their time to appreciate the craftmanship, they will be truly rewarded as I was. With amazing characters and settings, exhilarating action sequences and an almost unbelievable wealth of information about whales and whaling. Moby Dick is awesome. I loved it.

It worked best for me when Melville concentrated on the narrative, but I don't feel his frequent divergences detracted from the story. In fact, I felt that rather than just reading a book, I was having my life enriched.

My favourite parts were Ishmael and Queepeg sharing a room and a bed at the beginning before they boarded the Pequod, and Ahab's soliloquy before the third day of the final battle against the great white whale when he recognized how destructive his obsession had been, both to himself and to everyone around him, and berated himself and seemed to repent of his evil and selfish intent. Shocking but perhaps not surprising was his final decision to ignore his epiphany and press on, come what may, to try to kill his nemesis. The outcome was predictably tragic.

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Reading Progress

June 6, 2016 – Shelved
June 6, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
June 24, 2016 – Started Reading
October 7, 2016 – Finished Reading

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