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Moby Dick (1851)

by Herman Melville

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
27,82843473 (3.81)6 / 1460
A young seaman joins the crew of the whaling ship Pequod, led by the fanatical Captain Ahab in pursuit of the white whale Moby Dick.
  1. 180
    The Sea Wolf by Jack London (wvlibrarydude)
  2. 170
    In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick (jseger9000)
    jseger9000: In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex tells the true story that inspired Melville to write Moby Dick.
  3. 100
    Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad (_eskarina)
  4. 80
    Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Jr. Dana (knownever)
    knownever: A more enjoyable, shorter, and less allegorical story of sailing life, although there aren't any whales. The author of this one kind of looks down on whalers. All together a more jaunty sea tale.
  5. 70
    The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe (caflores)
  6. 50
    The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea by Philip Hoare (chrisharpe, John_Vaughan)
  7. 51
    The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway (caflores)
  8. 40
    The Wreck of the Whaleship Essex by Owen Chase (meggyweg)
  9. 41
    Why Read Moby-Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick (John_Vaughan)
  10. 31
    Genoa: A Telling of Wonders by Paul Metcalf (alaskayo)
    alaskayo: Melville's heir struggles to close his relationship to his preceding literary genius. Click the link above, read what you can, and get yourself hooked on one of the most critically-adored yet criminally-underread novels written in a century defined by self-analysis and experimentation.… (more)
  11. 53
    Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund (ecleirs24, AriadneAranea)
    ecleirs24: Cause this novel is based upon a passage from Mobi Dick......
  12. 42
    The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade by Herman Melville (GaryPatella)
    GaryPatella: Compared to Moby Dick, The Confidence Man is a much lighter read. But after ploughing through Moby Dick, this may be a welcome change. It is not as profound, but you also don't have to struggle through any of it. This is worth reading.
  13. 54
    Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian (caflores)
    caflores: Para amantes del lenguaje náutico y de las descripciones detalladas.
  14. 21
    Railsea by China Miéville (Longshanks)
    Longshanks: An imaginative, affectionate pastiche of the novel's themes, imagery, and characters.
  15. 43
    The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays by Albert Camus (WilfGehlen)
    WilfGehlen: Camus was greatly influenced by Melville and in The Myth of Sisyphus mentions Moby-Dick as a truly absurd work. Reading Moby-Dick with Camus' absurd in mind gives a deeper, and very different insight than provided by the usual emphasis on Ahab's quest for revenge.… (more)
  16. 11
    The Last Fish Tale by Mark Kurlansky (John_Vaughan)
  17. 33
    Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner (ateolf)
  18. 11
    The Nautical Chart by Arturo Pérez-Reverte (Ronoc)
  19. 11
    Oil! by Upton Sinclair (edwinbcn)
  20. 45
    Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham (JGKC)

(see all 24 recommendations)

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English (388)  Dutch (9)  German (7)  Spanish (7)  Italian (5)  French (5)  Catalan (3)  Norwegian (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Danish (1)  Swedish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (431)
Showing 1-5 of 388 (next | show all)
What a spectacular book! Absolutely phenomenal! I will definitely reread it in the future!
One of the things that captured my attention from the beginning is its humour. I didn't expect it to be so funny. Some of the chapters are just hilarious.
“Top-heavy was the ship as a dinnerless student with all Aristotle in his head.”

Furthermore, the language is very poetic, with beautiful imagery and philosophical ideas spread throughout the whole book:
“Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore.”

I listened to the audiobook version, brilliantly narrated by William Hootkins. I can highly recommend it! ( )
  Cuchulainn | Jun 7, 2020 |
Not only is this a polarizing book for readers in general, but it is also a polarizing book for me.

I read it first when I was a teen and was amazed at its complexity and subtlety and the amount of scholarship that went into it. Not to mention the author's passion. But I also ABHORRED the subject not only because it is a nasty piece of real history, but because it made me roll around in the gore. And such gore... I would have preferred getting thrown into Dead/Alive as a character rather than have to live through the chop-chop of a whale surgeon.

Let me be perfectly clear. I loved to hate this book. But one thing I cannot do is hate the quality of it. It's about as untraditional as you can get. Brief moments of fantastic, mind-blowing action in between weird meta moments and then sheer-rock-wall cliffs of academic exposition.

We get a 360-degree look at the whole damn whaling industry, and that means we also get the heroism and the demonization of the sailors, of Captain Ahab, the camaraderie, the mean terror, and the iron-heart determination to see a thing through no matter the cost.

Oddly enough, this aspect isn't the strongest aspect, IMHO. I honestly got the feeling that Moby Dick was a condemnation of the whole enterprise even while it was glorying in it. This time, anyway.

I'll shorten this review, but honestly, I could go on about how freaking wonderful the language was, how many allusions, poetry, and how bloody-minded it was about giving us all a supremely clear picture of that hellish industry, but I'm sure this quick take will imply it. :)

Better on a re-read. Probably better on a third or a fourth.
( )
1 vote bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
Well, this was a lot. I was surprisingly amused at some parts, thoroughly bored throughout many others, and a little disgusted at times as well. Still, an interesting read and I don't regret investing the time. ( )
  j_tuffi | May 30, 2020 |
"A great meter is no mere implement, like pen or typewriter, but a keyboard a young poet learns to master, exploring its range and subtleties, stretching its capabilities of harmony and expressiveness. Merely to accept the meter as given by one’s predecessors, to write one’s verses “in” iambic pentameter, is to assist at the death of a metrical form and perhaps one’s own poetry. The demise of iambic pentameter as the chief meter of English poetry probably owes much to its coming to be understood even by poets themselves as an available prosodic form, a meter to write poems “in,” a Roman road, rather than as a kind of heroic adventure or even a haunted house."[1]

Melville’s Moby-Dick: or, the Whale is like the “Roman road” for the English novel. It’s wildly inventive, riotously funny, excellently written, has an almost mystical sense of atmosphere, introduces one of the most transcendentally fascinating characters in the whole of world literature in Captain Ahab. And above all, it’s simply a great joy to read.2

The greatest novels in the English language are not only excellent narratives; they enrich the language and show its beauty. They’re exhilarating, they energize, they inspire. Melville’s Moby-Dick certainly fits the bill, and only McCarthy’s Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West (1985) has recently come close to replicating said grandeur of reading, and in many ways I believe it’s a worthy companion to this book. They go hand in hand, and for this reason I invoked Wright’s quotation. Melville is so all-encompassing here it’s difficult not to think of Moby-Dick as an emblem of creative writing. I think Joyce’s Ulysses (1922) is the logical continuation of the inherent complexity of Melville’s thought, something we might call modernism. In Moby-Dick there’s a sermon, essayistic, encyclopedic descriptions of whaling, sudden leaps into play acting, multiple points of view in narration, soliloquies. And the feeling one has is that all of this belongs there and without which it wouldn’t be Moby-Dick. That’s a sign of a great novel: that there’s no superfluity, everything belongs, every particular creates the essentials.[3]

And then there’s Captain Ahab. “He’s full of riddles”, says Stubb after being told off by the Captain, and that’s exactly what so fascinates in him. Cormac McCarthy definitely modeled Judge Holden after Ahab, so alike are the two with their diabolical and mystical aura. They’re mere men but still beyond the narrative. His grandness is Shakespearean[4] It’s boisterous, energetic, mesmerizing.

The Penguin that I own is quite nice, it has a good introduction and some supplements at the back: a list of variants between editions, annotations as well as maps and images. The annotations at their very best give insight into Melville’s writing that becomes essential in reading the novel. Such is the gloss on Ahab’s “Ego non baptizo te in nomine patris, sed in nomine diaboli!”: “Melville remarked in a letter to Hawthorne (June 29, 1851) that this is the secret ‘motto’ of the book.”

I have also listened to an audiobook version of the book, narrated by Frank Muller. It’s one of the best audiobooks I’ve heard. He reads it a bit fast at times, but it’s his rhythm and the voices he produces that make it so utterly enjoyable.


[1] George T. Wright, Shakespeare’s Metrical Art, 18.

[2] I know there are people who would rathe jump out of the window than read it, so there.

[3] Again I hear somebody trying to jump out the window.

[4] “I’d strike the sun if it insulted me” in chapter 36; “What I’ve dared, I’ve willed; and what I’ve willed, I’ll do! They think me mad—Starbuck does; but I’m demoniac, I am madness maddened! That wild madness that’s only calm to comprehend itself! The prophecy was that I should be dismembered; and—Aye! I lost this leg. I now prophesy that I will dismember my dismemberer” in chapter 37.

2 October, 2011 ( )
  Thay1234 | May 27, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 388 (next | show all)
Forfatter: Herman Melville

Moby Dick I
«Kall meg Ismael. For noen år siden - akkurat når det var, er likegyldig - bestemte jeg meg for å gå til sjøs og lære verdenshavene å kjenne. Jeg hadde lite eller ingenting å leve av, og ikke noe særlig som interesserte meg på land. Gå til sjøs - på den måten har jeg ofte drevet tungsinn på flukt og regulert blodomløpet.»
Slik begynner verdens kanskje mest kjente roman, romanen som stiller de vanskeligste og viktigste spørsmål; om det ondes og godes natur og om viljens mulighet til å trosse skjebnen.

Moby Dick II
Historien om kaptein Akabs glødende hat til den hvite hvalen fortsetter:
«Riggen levde. Mastetoppene var som høye palmer, var vidt behengt med armer og ben. Enkelte av sjøfolkene klynget seg til spirene med den ene hånden, mens de utålmodig viftet med den andre. Noen satt ytterst ute på de gyngende rærne og skjermet øynene mot det skarpe solskinnet. Hele riggen var full av dødelige mennesker, rede og modne til å ta imot sin skjebne. Å, hvor de stirret ut gjennom det uendelige blå, for å oppdage det vesen som kanskje skulle ødelegge dem!»

Herman Melville
Herman Melville (1819-1891), amerikansk forfatter, essayist og poet. Melville blir ansett å være blant de fremste amerikanske forfattere gjennom tidene, og hans hovedverk Moby Dick (1851) regnes som en av verdenslitteraturens største romaner. Samtidens forfattere hadde gått på de «riktige» skolene, mens Melvilles bakgrunn var annerledes. Han ble født inn i en rikmannsfamilie, men måtte tidlig greie seg selv. Som ung gutt gikk han til sjøs og sa senere; «havet ble mitt universitet». Melville hadde store reiser og merkelig eventyr bak seg da Moby Dick kom ut. Han hadde seilt i over fire år, var to ganger rundt Kapp Horn og hadde levd blant kannibaler etter at han deserterte på Marquesas-øyene. Melville kjente virkelig til det livet han beskriver i boken, et farefullt liv i jakten på havets gull, spermasetthvalens verdifulle olje.
added by KystbiblioteketOslo | editFlyt Forlag, Anne Nygren

» Add other authors (205 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Melville, Hermanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Adler, Mortimer J.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beaver, Harold LowtherEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Buhlert, KlausDirectorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
D'Agostino, NemiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Delbanco, AndrewIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fadiman, CliftonIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Güttinger, FritzTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gibson, William M.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hewgill, JodyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jendis, MatthiasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kazin, AlfredIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kent, RockwellIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meynell, ViolaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moser, BarryIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Muller, FrankNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mummendey, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Palmer, GarrickIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pavese, CesareTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Quirk, TomCommentarysecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Quirk, TomEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rathjen, FriedhelmTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robinson, BoardmanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schaeffer, MeadIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schmischke, KurtIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sutcliffe, DenhamAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Trent, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walcutt, Charles ChildEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Call me Ishmael. Some years ago — never mind how long precisely — having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.
I’ll try a pagan friend, thought I, since Christian kindness has proved but hollow courtesy.
...so at nightfall, the Nantucketer, out of sight of land, furls his sails, and lays him to his rest, while under his very pillow rush herds of walruses and whales.
...Heaven have mercy on us all—Presbyterians and Pagans alike—for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending.
‘Whale-balls for breakfast—don’t forget.’ (Stubb, second mate)
And with what quill did the Secretary of the Society for the Suppression of Cruelty to Ganders formally indite his circulars? It is only within the last month or two that that society passed a resolution to patronize nothing but steel pens.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Please do not combine adaptations or abridged editions of Moby Dick with unabridged versions. Versions aimed at children are normally abridged editions and should not be combined here. Also, books ABOUT Moby Dick (such as study guides) should not be combined with the unabridged nor the abridged novel. Please keep such books as an independent work.
The ISBN 9025463312 is shared with a different work.
The Penguin Classics 150th Anniversary Ed (ISBN 0142000086) is not abridged, although that word has appeared in some user's data.
Norton Critical editions, Longman Critical editions and other scholarly editions should not be combined with the unabridged novel. The scholarly-type editions contain much additional material so they should be considered as separate works.
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Haiku summary
Call me Ishmael.
Score: Whale 1, Ahab 0.
I alone returned.
Nor been sparing of

Historical whale research

--Chapter one-o-one

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