Moby Dick is one of the great classics of American literature. It went unappreciated during the lifetime of Herman Melville but its reputation was revived in the early twentieth century when people became more interested in myth. On the face of it, Moby Dick is the story of a man who goes on a whaling expedition and meets with many adventures to eventually become the sole survivor of the ship. But Moby Dick is anything but factual, being filled with philosophical ramblings and symbolism.
Ishmael, the narrator of Moby Dick, is an observer on board the ship Pequod which boasts a crew of many different nationalities. The Pequod is a melting pot, like America itself, and its captain, Ahab, is a man obsessed with finding the whale Moby Dick whom he has encountered before. Having lost a leg in that first skirmish with the great white whale, Ahab has become obsessed with gaining revenge. He blames the whale for everything bad that has happened to him and will not rest until he takes it down.
Throughout the whaling expedition, Ahab constantly seeks information about Moby Dick from other ships that the Pequod encounters. Although they come across several other whales, some of which get away and some of which are killed, Ahab keeps his eye on the prize, despite prophecies and dire warnings about the future from a member of the crew. Eventually, of course, Ahab’s obsession leads to his own destruction.
Melville himself went on a whaling expedition from which he took many of the details of Moby Dick. During his lifetime, however, the only person of note who appreciated his masterpiece was Nathaniel Hawthorne to whom Melville dedicated the book. Most people found it too philosophical and preferred Melville’s earlier books which were more factual in nature. Now, of course, Moby Dick is a permanent fixture in the American literary canon and Melville’s philosophical meanderings, which were so unpopular in his day, are what make it a classic today.
Download the Moby Dick audiobook from The Audio Bookstore today and you’ll find yourself engrossed in a world of seafaring men who are all very different from each other but united in the common goal to find the white whale.
"Loved it! A story interupted by digressions, poetry throughout, a meandering, long, journey which invaded my dreams. Details, metaphors, thoughts, brilliance, erudition - history, geography, art, ... and all this before google. Melville must have hunkered down in a library and swilled the books there."
Lynnnadeau (5 out of 5 stars)