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Leviathan or, The Whale (2008)

by Philip Hoare

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8492726,237 (3.77)59
A lively travelogue through the history, literature, and lore of the king of the sea. Since his childhood fascination with the gigantic Natural History Museum model of a blue whale, author Philip Hoare has been obsessed with whales. Journeying through human and natural history, this book is the result of his voyage of discovery into the heart of this obsession. Taking us deep into their domain, Hoare shows us these mysterious creatures as they have never been seen before--Hoare's sparkling account of swimming with these incredible behemoths will delight wildlife aficionados. And following in Ishmael's footsteps, he explores the troubled history of man and whale; visits the historic whaling locales of New Bedford, Nantucket, and the Azores; and traces the whale's cultural history from Jonah to Free Willy.--From publisher description.… (more)
  1. 20
    Moby Dick by Herman Melville (chrisharpe, John_Vaughan)
  2. 10
    Why Read Moby-Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick (John_Vaughan)
  3. 10
    Land's End: A Walk in Provincetown by Michael Cunningham (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: Two aspects of the same place (and both made me want to visit Provincetown)
  4. 00
    One River by Wade Davis (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: Both detailed explorations of one aspect of the natural world.
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» See also 59 mentions

English (25)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (27)
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
I really enjoyed this book, though I understand the comments of some reviewers. The author is a professor of Literature and writing, not a scientist, so if you want an in-depth book on the latest whale knowledge, look elsewhere. If you want a book that has information on whales and whaling and culture and literature, then, this is your book ( )
  cspiwak | Mar 6, 2024 |
From his childhood fascination with the gigantic Natural History Museum model of a blue whale to his adult encounters with the living animals in the Atlantic Ocean, the acclaimed writer Philip Hoare has been obsessed with whales. Journeying through human and natural history, The Whale is the result of his voyage of discovery into the heart of this obsession and the book that inspired it: Herman Melville's Moby-Dick.
Taking us deep into their domain, Hoare shows us these mysterious creatures as they have never been seen before. Following in Ishmael's footsteps, he explores the troubled history of man and whale; visits the historic whaling locales of New Bedford, Nantucket, and the Azores; and traces the whale's cultural history from Jonah to Free Willy. Winner of the prestigious BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, The Whale is an unforgettable and often moving attempt to explain why these strange and beautiful animals still exert such a powerful hold on our imagination.
  rachelprice14 | Nov 14, 2022 |
A slightly disappointing book. It was difficult to weigh up what the author intended. For a large part of the book he was following Herman Melville and Moby Dick. He digressed, reasonably enough, inot the whaling industry and its history. He then digressed further into varoius historical sightings of whales and whales used as fairground attractions. All mixed up with a bit of natural history and biology. It all gave the impression that he had too much research and wasn't sure how to put it all together but he wasn't going to waste any of it. ( )
  Steve38 | Dec 3, 2019 |
In search of the giants of the sea
  jhawn | Jul 31, 2017 |
Whales have always had a fascination for man. From the great sea-monsters of legend, the swallower of Jonah, to the giant floating store of oil, bone and flesh for the use of humans, to the modern tourist attraction, the relationship between the two species has developed. Using the novel, 'Moby Dick', as a construct Philip Hoare celebrates this most enigmatic creature through words.

It's hard to describe what this book is about beyond saying that it is about the relationship between man and whale. Through its contents so many areas are covered - history, literature, geography, anthropology, language etc as well as straight biology - and event then it is wrapped up in a very personal memoir about one man's love of the sea and the creature. This makes the book a very eclectic and therefore entertaining read. ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Jun 26, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
Part of the beguiling genius of “The Whale,” a rhapsodic meditation on all things cetacean, is that Philip Hoare so suggestively explores the English origins of Herman Melville’s masterpiece while providing his own quirky, often revelatory take on the more familiar aspects of the novel.
 
In The Whale, Hoare transforms his obsession with these mammoth creatures into an intricate exploration of history, literature, and science. It’s not a stretch to say he’s on a spiritual voyage to understand the whale’s place – and his– in the world.
 
"The Whale" results from years of devoted researching, talking, kayaking, diving and swimming; it is equal parts almanac, literary study, celebration, elegy, eulogy and literary travel essay.
 
Philip Hoare has written a biography of Noel Coward and the history of a British military hospital, but The Whale is the book he was meant for.
 
Philip Hoare began his writing career as the biographer of Stephen Tennant and Noël Coward. More recently, his work has turned into something harder to categorise: amazing feats of history and imagination that take you to places within yourself - never mind the places he is actually describing - that you did not even know existed. Leviathan or, The Whale is one of these feats and it is as elusive a beast as the great, unknowable creature that is its inspiration.
added by Nevov | editThe Observer, Rachel Cooke (Aug 24, 2008)
 

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philip Hoareprimary authorall editionscalculated
Saltzman, AlisonCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"There Leviathan,
Hugest of living creatures, on the deep
Stretch'd like a promontory sleeps or swims,
And seems a moving land; and at his gills
Draws in, and at his breath spouts out a sea."

- John Milton, Paradise Lost, quoted in title page to the first, English edition of Moby-Dick
Dedication
For Theresa
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Perhaps it is because I was nearly born underwater.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A lively travelogue through the history, literature, and lore of the king of the sea. Since his childhood fascination with the gigantic Natural History Museum model of a blue whale, author Philip Hoare has been obsessed with whales. Journeying through human and natural history, this book is the result of his voyage of discovery into the heart of this obsession. Taking us deep into their domain, Hoare shows us these mysterious creatures as they have never been seen before--Hoare's sparkling account of swimming with these incredible behemoths will delight wildlife aficionados. And following in Ishmael's footsteps, he explores the troubled history of man and whale; visits the historic whaling locales of New Bedford, Nantucket, and the Azores; and traces the whale's cultural history from Jonah to Free Willy.--From publisher description.

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