Synopses & Reviews
"What's the use of elaborating what, in its very essence, is so short-lived as a modern book? Though I wrote the Gospels in this century, I should die in the gutter."
Herman Melville, in a letter to Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1851
One hundred-fifty years have passed since Herman Melville wrote his masterpiece. Yet Moby-Dick endures as an indisputable literary classic that continues to speak to readers today. Join Captain Ahab, an eerily compelling madman, as he pursues an unholy war against a creature as vast and dangerous and unknowable as the sea itself. In his monomaniacal quest, Ahab focuses his distilled hatred and suffering and that of generations before him against one single creature, and pursues it relentlessly.
More than just a novel of adventure, more than an encyclopedia of whaling lore and legend, this is a haunting, mesmerizing, and important social commentary populated with several of the most unforgettable and enduring characters in literature. Written with wonderfully redemptive humor, Moby-Dick is a profound and timeless inquiry into character, faith, and the nature of perception.
"In our own moment of horror and heroism, [Moby Dick] is a book more salient than ever unflinchingly honest about the human capacity for hate and brutality, yet filled with an undiscourageable love of humanity." Andrew Delbanco, The New York Times Book Review
"[Moby Dick] is one of the most moving myths ever imagined on man's fight against evil and on the irresistible logic which ends up by pitting the just man first against creation and the creator and later against his equals and against himself." Albert Camus
"I'm embarking on a 'classics year,' where I'm going to try to read a lot of those books that I know I should have read a long time ago. You know the ones those books that we can all quote from and make references to, even though we've never actually cracked open a copy. I started last year by finally reading Darwin's main books....Then, when I interviewed Stephen Pinker, he mentioned having recently enjoyed Moby-Dick and recommended it to me for the biology aspects. So I made the plunge. And you know what? It went quicker than I expected, and it's got some interesting observations about people beyond the obvious insights about obsession and vengeance. Doug Brown, Powells.com (read the entire Powells.com review)
Nominated as one of America's best-loved novels by PBS's The Great American Read
First published in 1851, Herman Melville's masterpiece is, in Elizabeth Hardwick's words, "the greatest novel in American literature." The saga of Captain Ahab and his monomaniacal pursuit of the white whale remains a peerless adventure story but one full of mythic grandeur, poetic majesty, and symbolic power. Filtered through the consciousness of the novel's narrator, Ishmael, Moby-Dick draws us into a universe full of fascinating characters and stories, from the noble cannibal Queequeg to the natural history of whales, while reaching existential depths that excite debate and contemplation to this day.
No American masterpiece casts quite as awesome a shadow as Melville's monumental Moby Dick. Mad Captain Ahab's quest for the White Whale is a timeless epic--a stirring tragedy of vengeance and obsession, a searing parable about humanity lost in a universe of moral ambiguity. It is the greatest sea story ever told. Far ahead of its own time, Moby Dick was largely misunderstood and unappreciated by Melville's contemporaries. Today, however, it is indisputably a classic. As D.H. Lawrence wrote, Moby Dick "commands a stillness in the soul, an awe . . . [It is] one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world."