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Moby Dick; or, The Whale (Annotated) [Kindle Edition]

Herman Melville
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (186 customer reviews)

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Book Description

"Call me Ishmael," Moby-Dick begins, in one of the most recognizable opening lines in Western literature. The narrator, an observant young man setting out from Manhattan, has experience in the merchant marine but has recently decided his next voyage will be on a whaling ship. On a cold, gloomy night in December, he arrives at the Spouter-Inn in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and agrees to share a bed with a then-absent stranger. When his bunk mate, a heavily tattooed Polynesian harpooner named Queequeg, returns very late and discovers Ishmael beneath his covers, both men are alarmed, but the two quickly become close friends and decide to sail together from Nantucket, Massachusetts on a whaling voyage.

In Nantucket, the pair signs on with the Pequod, a whaling ship that is soon to leave port. The ship’s captain, Ahab, is nowhere to be seen; nevertheless, they are told of him — a "grand, ungodly, godlike man," who has "been in colleges as well as 'mong the cannibals," according to one of the owners. The two friends encounter a mysterious man named Elijah on the dock after they sign their papers and he hints at troubles to come with Ahab. The mystery grows on Christmas morning when Ishmael spots dark figures in the mist, apparently boarding the Pequod shortly before it sets sail that day.

The ship’s officers direct the early voyage while Ahab stays in his cabin. The chief mate is Starbuck, a serious, sincere Quaker and fine leader; second mate is Stubb, happy-go-lucky and cheerful and always smoking his pipe; the third mate is Flask, short and stout but thoroughly reliable. Each mate is responsible for a whaling boat, and each whaling boat of the Pequod has its own pagan harpooneer assigned to it. Some time after sailing, Ahab finally appears on the quarter-deck one morning, an imposing, frightening figure whose haunted visage sends shivers over the narrator. One of his legs is missing from the knee down and has been replaced by a prosthesis fashioned from a sperm whale's jawbone.

Includes a biography of the author

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Arguably Herman Melville's greatest work, and hailed as a classic American novel, Moby Dick tells the tale of one man's fatal obsession and his willingness to sacrifice his life and that of his crew to achieve his goal. The story follows the fortunes of Captain Ahab and the culturally and spiritually diverse crew of the Pequod, a 19th century whaling ship. The Pequod is on its last voyage out of New Bedford, Mass, in pursuit of Moby Dick, the great white whale which has been Ahab's obsessional quarry and bitter adversary for many years. Narrated by sole survivor Ishmael, the tale forms a complex fictional fusion, combining a wealth of literary symbolism, hidden meaning and philosophical debate with adventure narrative and a detailed historical account of the 19th century whaling trade. --Emily Lowson


" Responsive to the shaping forces of his age as only men of passionate imagination are, even Melville can hardly have been fully aware of how symbolical an American hero he had fashioned in Ahab."
--F. O. Matthiessen

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 851 KB
  • Print Length: 594 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: DB Publishing House (25 Aug. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (186 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,739,549 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Herman Melville was 31 years old when he started writing The Whale in New York during February 1850. He left the sea in 1844 to become a writer and had drawn on his experience as a seaman in many of his successful works. By 1851 the only part of his years at sea which he had not drawn on for fictional purposes was his experience on a whaling ship Acushnet in 1841-2. It is almost as if he had intuited that this area of his life would yield the richest returns only when his imagination was ready to appropriate all its possibilities and explore them to their further riches. The most important event during the seventeen months in which Melville was writing his novel was his meeting with Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1850. This meeting had a profound effect on Melville. Moby Dick is dedicated to Hawthorne. Melville died, in obscurity, in 1891.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I had long put off reading Moby Dick following a first, unsuccessful attempt as a teenager and mixed feedback from others who have tried. So I approached it again with some trepidation and much respect. It is a difficult novel in some regards. The language and style are antiquated, and the flow of the story is frequently interrupted by didactic chapters on the art of whaling, the anatomy of the whale and whaling in art. In spite of this, Melville tells a great story about pre-industrial whale-hunting in which the hunters rowed right up to the jaws of the monster to plant a harpoon in its side and fight the thrashing beast for its life, surely one of the most adventurous and daring professions ever undertaken.

What makes Moby Dick literature rather than a mere adventure story is that it can and has been read at so many more levels. To me it reads like an allegory about America itself in the early 1850s, when the young nation founded on Enlightenment ideas was already creaking under the weight of its own contradictions.

The ship's crew is a microcosm of the US; much as the American ship of state was led by whites while most of the back-breaking work was done by slaves, the whaler hunting Moby Dick has white officers commanding a crew in which the most dangerous and physical jobs are performed by a group of harpooners comprising a black, an Asian, a Pacific Islander and a native American. The white captain, Ahab, leads this crew in the pursuit of the biggest beast in the ocean, in the same way that the white leaders of multicultural America had been chasing their own leviathan, the creation of a continental empire stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
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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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Towering great epic 10 Nov. 2013
By Jak
Format:Kindle Edition
Just the name of the whale - Moby-Dick -- evokes the feeling of immense power, both physical and psychological, that imbue this great epic with drama and a feeling of awe of almost mythical proportions.

Hard to credit that its publication (in 1851) created barely a stir: after a couple of well received earlier sea-stories, Melville's "Moby-Dick" received poor reviews (initially in England, where it was first published), sold poorly, and was virtually unknown until long after Melville's death. Then, after the end of the first World War, Melville and his work were rediscovered; the revival of his work in the 1920s led to "Moby-Dick" becoming recognized as the towering achievement it is, a compelling story of obsession and revenge, one of the greatest American novels of all time.

This edition, well formatted and with excellent period illustrations, is one that I'll want to keep so I can re-read it from time to time.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The abyss gazing into you 25 Sept. 2009
Now an undisputed classic of American literature, Herman Melville's "Moby Dick" was a commercial failure on first publication in 1851, one from which Melville's reputation did not recover until the 1920's, long after his death. Some link the recognition that "Moby Dick" began to receive at this point to the recently-ended First World War, as those who had witnessed such wholesale and mindless slaughter searched for a meaning behind it all, and Melville's tragic vision of the human condition started to make sense.

Apart from being an adventure story about the search for the titular white whale by the monomaniacal Captain Ahab and the crew of the ship he commands, the Pequod, the book also constitutes a handbook of technical information on whaling and related matters. Melville had himself served on a whaling ship so knew what he was talking about; that said, why he choose to interrupt the narrative so frequently with the minutiae of whaling is a mystery, as it is unquestionably difficult for the reader.

Furthermore, "Moby Dick" is a philosophical tract, a deep, troubled exploration of the human condition. Ahab's speech is almost all in the form of soliloquies, employing stately language influenced by Milton's "Paradise Lost." Here we see that Ahab defines his existence by his search for the white whale. Why?, that is the question. The fact that the answer is so hard to pin down is a great part of the book's enduring appeal. At times, the whale seems to symbolize the crushing indifference of the forces that surround us, that wreak havoc and perpetrate atrocities without consciousness, the implacable machinery of the universe. If Ahab can kill the murderous whale, he can assert himself against these forces.
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