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Moby Dick (Bantam Classic) [Mass Market Paperback]

3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Jan 1920 Bantam Classic
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."

Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 594 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam USA; Reissue edition (1 Jan 1920)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553213113
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553213119
  • Product Dimensions: 17.7 x 10.8 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,325,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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CALL me Ishmael. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book needs to be longer! 24 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I would like to believe that Melville was years (maybe centuries) ahead of his time, but more than likely he was just plain nuts, apparently stalking Hawthorne and who knows what else. This shouldn't stop you from enjoying the fun though! In MD we basically have two ideas going on, with Ahab's whole monomaniac pursuit of the whale bookending hundreds of pages that essentially capture Ishmael's (sun)baked thoughts during his three years or so on board the Pequid. This middle section will either bore and repel the reader, or suck them in, resembling some post modern-ish films like Satyricon, or perhaps the writings of some lost beat author. This middle section is a detailed narrative of every thought that strikes Ishmael's mind as he is immersed in what must be a remarkably dull setting. So instead, his mind wanders, seeing analogies in every bit of rope and whale tissue to the relationship between man and God, man and nature, man in society, etc. The idea is so absurd and executed so bombastically that it works. Had the man he dedicated this book to (Nathaniel Hawthorne) wrote MD instead, it would have been awful, but Melville can write about Ahab's pipe with enthusiasm, and put that very same pipe into a mythic perspective! Of the outer story, what is there left to say? Only an American author could take the standard tragedy of man bested by the fates and turn it into man bested by the fates/decides to hunt down and kill God! An absolutely fantastic and unforgettable book, but I would have enjoyed more ramblings from Ishmael. I'm serious!!!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gold mine for the imagination 15 May 1998
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Savor this book like a rich dessert. Read it slowly, like poetry. An epic tragedy that is either loved or loathed, it may speak best to those who have known obsession, those who divine the many biblical allusions scattered through the pages and those who have an ear for the dated cadences of 19th Century prose.
The reader can't help but be awed by the maniacal Captain Ahab, who challenges God and nature, casts away all navigational aids, forges his own compass and ultimately relies only on his own cunning and instinct to search the untracked seas for the one thing in the world that consumes him, the White Whale.
The imagery is rich. At one point Melville describes a deathly still sea as a great magnifying glass and the sun overhead as the searing point of light gathered and focused by that glass.
A gold mine for the imagination, this book can be read once as a tragic quest, once as a work of poetry and once again as a huge metaphor or allegory. This book is like a deep pool that reflects back whatever is lurking in the reader's heart. Beware and enjoy.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why don't you come a-whaling? 24 July 2008
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's a classic allegory, but Moby-Dick is an arduous experience. I once read a summary that this book is only truly capable of being judged when read all the way through to its climax. The fact is, this book holds true to it, and even if when reading it you feel yourself slipping: keep at it, there is some superb English and some superb thought hidden in this book.

There are two faults with this book. First, and the biggest one, is the many many chapters on the technical aspects of Whaling and Cetology. Although interesting at first, they descend into Minutiae, and even I as a person who loved the book from cover to cover skipped a few chapters of this nature, scanning for any truly important passages. Secondly, in a few scenes the dialogue can get confusing, but these are generally not key scenes- so do not worry. Just remember that nearly everyone refers to themselves in the Third-Person, and Melville's lack of "said -" becomes less vexing and confusing.

The book does, however, contain some of the best prose I have ever read- and I've read a lot of it. Poetic, almost Shakespearean, and above all soaked in atmosphere, there are times when this book just astounds you with the vividness and tenacity of its language. With phrases like "made appalling battle" it sweeps away the less complex and incredibly simple modern bestsellers like The Da Vinci Code.

At the heart of the book is an intense symbolism that would sound ludicrous to those who have not read the book, the fact that one white whale could represent so plausibly so so many things does sound far fetched, but when you read it you find so many different answers. Fate, Providence, Nature, Madness, Death, Predestination- all these things run as Ahab and the Pequod's brave and diligent crew assail Moby-Dick.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
To ask someone who has never read Moby Dick what they think it is about, they would probably tell you what I used to think, "It is about a white whale.". Surprisingly, very few of the numerous chaptors were devoted to that particular leviathon. Instead, Moby Dick himself is the climax of a book that puts you on the ocean in the mid-19th century with a rather interesting crew and captain. You do not only read about a singular chase of a brutal (not all white) beast, you learn what whales are made of (at least what they knew back then), how the crew was hired and paid, the complete workings of the ship from the owners down to the carpenter, and how dangerous a vocation this really was. Symbolism abounds, and quite honestly I ignored most of it and chose instead to just enjoy the scenery. Take what you will, but Moby Dick is well worth it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars "Call me disapointed and Call him confused"
Yeah that's right. I got to be honest, I've only read 10 chapters and that was all that I could take from from this major let down. Read more
Published on 16 Aug 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Call Me Ishmael
This is the greatest novel ever. Of course, I can't be sure of that, because I haven't read every novel ever written. Read more
Published on 30 July 1999
3.0 out of 5 stars Inflated Melville
I am one of those who firmly believes that Melville's non-fiction is superior to his fiction. "Typee" and "Omoo" are more to my taste. Read more
Published on 7 July 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful visuals, language, and philosophy
It was difficult for a lover of whales to endure. I had no sympathy for Ahab until the end chase. He is not really developed till almost the very end. Read more
Published on 3 July 1999
3.0 out of 5 stars More "Important" Than Entertaining
The recent television film of MOBY DICK has fired an interest in Melville's classic, and that is a good thing. Read more
Published on 29 Jun 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow....Superb! A breathtaking novel...really...
When you read the book you'll find passages that are so perfectly written they easily rival shakespeare in their power. The book is like a poem in so many ways... Read more
Published on 19 Jun 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Expansive
"Moby Dick" combines a rouser of a good adventure story, deliciously laden with profound symbolism all over the place, with many amusing digressions about cetology and... Read more
Published on 18 Jun 1999
2.0 out of 5 stars Too Long to be really good!
All I have heard of Moby Dick I imagined that it must be one of the best books ever written. It is certainly not of my favorites and it took me a long long time to read it! Read more
Published on 9 Jun 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding-Possibly the best work by any American author
Melville's classic prose captures the reader and never lets go. I read it twice in a row. But this book may not be for the casual reader, and is better suited to one interested... Read more
Published on 8 Jun 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars A strong plot but too much attention is given to detail.
While this book has a strong plot that pulls the reader into its style and context, there is a little bit too much attention to detail that does not need to be included. Read more
Published on 2 Jun 1999
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