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Why Read Moby-Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick

Why Read Moby-Dick? (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Nathaniel Philbrick

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3342233,013 (3.78)70
Title:Why Read Moby-Dick?
Authors:Nathaniel Philbrick
Info:Viking Adult (2011), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 144 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Literature, education, Herman Melville

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Why Read Moby-Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick (2011)


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When readers first encounter the title of this book, it sounds like it could be a really dry little tome.

Happily, it is not and moves along like a non-fiction story, along the way encompassing Melville's
fortuitous friendship with Nathaniel Hawthorne, the reception of Moby-Dick compared with Typee,
and hints about Melville's darker inner life.

Philbrick inspires readers to find the letters written between Melville and Hawthorne for a more
complete understanding of Melville's struggle to complete his epic work.

Without the author pointing out possible parallels between Moby-Dick and pre-Civil War America,
many of us would have missed this connection entirely. He also seems to stretch the metaphor
too far as when, in talking about Jonah, he goes on to write that he is like "...a runaway slave
in post-Fugitive Slave Act America (who) attempts to escape God's omniscient gaze..." -
making God rather like a slave master...? Confusion here.

Why Read Moby-Dick? works incredibly well to inspire readers to return to Melville.
First time readers may be a little mystified. ( )
  m.belljackson | Mar 2, 2017 |
There is a bit of useful context here, but the literary criticism part seems like balderdash. In any case, I intend to read Moby Dick because James Morrow promised me that it is hilarious. ( )
  themulhern | Sep 11, 2016 |
Well, it made me want to read "Moby Dick" so it accomplished what it set out to do! ( )
  tloeffler | Jun 5, 2016 |
This short and sweet book gives the author's insights and observations about Moby-Dick and the reasons it is so revered in American Literature. He explains some of the major historical and life events that shaped Melville and his writing. He also unpacks his opinions on the most significant symbolism in the novel. The tone of the book is extremely conversational, yet is packed with information. The chapters fly by - quite the opposite of the book which is parental to this one. Both are a joy to read.

To make the most of this book, you really need to have recently read Moby-Dick. Otherwise, the explanations and insights will be far less meaningful. Having just finished a month-long reading of Moby-Dick, I believe that this wass the perfect book at the perfect time. ( )
2 vote BooksForYears | Mar 31, 2016 |
A great big little book. Wish it had been written before I first read MD, but glad to have it now for when I reread it. The stories behind the story always make for the best story and wow, what a story! No wonder many consider MD the great American novel. ( )
1 vote Charlie-Ravioli | Jan 18, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
Philbrick, whose “In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex” recounted the real-life inspiration for Melville’s shipwreck, wears his erudition lightly. He broaches the novel in quirky thematic fashion, with gracefully written compact essays on topics like landlessness, chowder and sharks. His voice is that of a beloved professor lecturing with such infectious enthusiasm that one can almost, for a moment, believe in the possibility of a popular renaissance for Melville.
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Early in the afternoon of December 16, 1850, Herman Melville looked at his timepiece.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670022993, Hardcover)

The New York Times bestselling author of seagoing epics now celebrates an American classic.

Moby-Dick is perhaps the greatest of the Great American Novels, yet its length and esoteric subject matter create an aura of difficulty that too often keeps readers at bay. Fortunately, one unabashed fan wants passionately to give Melville's masterpiece the broad contemporary audience it deserves. In his National Book Award- winning bestseller, In the Heart of the Sea, Nathaniel Philbrick captivatingly unpacked the story of the wreck of the whaleship Essex, the real-life incident that inspired Melville to write Moby- Dick. Now, he sets his sights on the fiction itself, offering a cabin master's tour of a spellbinding novel rich with adventure and history.

Philbrick skillfully navigates Melville's world and illuminates the book's humor and unforgettable characters-finding the thread that binds Ishmael and Ahab to our own time and, indeed, to all times. A perfect match between author and subject, Why Read Moby-Dick? gives us a renewed appreciation of both Melville and the proud seaman's town of Nantucket that Philbrick himself calls home. Like Alain de Botton's How Proust Can Change Your Life, this remarkable little book will start conversations, inspire arguments, and, best of all, bring a new wave of readers to a classic tale waiting to be discovered anew.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:04 -0400)

Shares expert guidelines on how to read and appreciate Herman Melville's classic work, offering insight into its history, characters, and themes while explaining its literary relevance in the modern world.

(summary from another edition)

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