Moby-Dick, or The Whale
Herman Melville, 1851
Signet : Penguin Group USA (cover image)
~500 pp. (varies by publisher)
It was an obsession that would destroy them all.
On a cold December night, a young man called Ishmael rents a room at an inn in Massachusetts. He has come from Manhattan to the north-east of America to sign up for a whaling expedition. Later that same night, as Ishmael is sleeping, a heavily tattooed man wielding a blade enters his room. This chance meeting is just the start of what will become the greatest adventure of his life.
The next day, Ishmael joins the crew of a ship known as the Pequod. He is approached by a man dressed in rags who warns him that, if he sails under the command of Captain Ahab, he may never come back. Undaunted, Ishmael returns early the next morning and leaves for the high seas. For the crew of the Pequod, their voyage is one of monetary gain.
For Captain Ahab, however, it is a mission driven by hatred, revenge, and his growing obsession with the greatest creature of the sea. (From the Campfire illustrated edition.)
Moby-Dick is at once a thrilling adventure tale, a timeless allegory, and an epic saga of heroic determination and conflict. At its heart is the powerful, unknowable sea—and Captain Ahab, a brooding, one-legged fanatic who has sworn vengeance on the mammoth white whale that crippled him.
Narrated by Ishmael, a wayfarer who joins the crew of Ahab’s whaling ship, this is the story of that hair-raising voyage, and of the men who embraced hardship and nameless horrors as they dared to challenge God’s most dreaded creation and death itself for a chance at immortality.
A novel that delves with astonishing vigor into the complex souls of men, Moby-Dick is an impassioned drama of the ultimate human struggle that the Atlantic Monthly called “the greatest of American novels.” (From the 2013 Signets Classics edition.)
Over a century and a half after its publication, Moby-Dick still stands as an indisputable literary classic. It is the story of an eerily compelling madman pursuing an unholy war against a creature as vast and dangerous and unknowable as the sea itself.
But more than just a novel of adventure, more than an encyclopedia of whaling lore and legend, Moby-Dick 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. (From the 2000 Penguin Classics edition.)
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