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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Obsession explored
I finished this book a week ago and it has stayed in my mind ever since. What an excellent, philosophical book.
Please ignore all the reviews saying it meanders and spends too much time on cetology. Remember when this was written and how little we knew about whales.
There is so much more to this book than a man after a whale. Religion, life, death and the mind...
Published 9 months ago by Dodge Devil

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Some great parts, but also some extreme detail
Review courtesy of www.subtleillumination.com

In 1842, a young man would abandon the whaling ship he was working on to live among reputed cannibals and pursue love affairs with local girls. He would recount these events in bestselling books when he returned home, before destroying his career with a book that received almost universally scathing reviews:...
Published 3 months ago by Nicholas


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Obsession explored, 3 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Moby Dick: or, the White Whale (Kindle Edition)
I finished this book a week ago and it has stayed in my mind ever since. What an excellent, philosophical book.
Please ignore all the reviews saying it meanders and spends too much time on cetology. Remember when this was written and how little we knew about whales.
There is so much more to this book than a man after a whale. Religion, life, death and the mind of man are all explored. There is so much good humour also but you may have to re read passages to get it as the language is of its time.
If the sea is in you and you love to learn about how people survived on a boat for 4 years without ever touching land, then dig in.
I am jealous of you if its the first time you are going to read it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Hast Seen the White Whale?", 21 Aug 2012
By 
Robin Friedman (Washington, D.C. United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Moby Dick: or, the White Whale (Kindle Edition)
Melville's sixth novel, "Moby-Dick" received mixed reviews when published in 1851 and was nearly forgotten after the author's death in 1891. In the early 1920's, the book was rediscovered and quickly achieved the stature of an American classic. The book is inexhaustible. I have recently returned to it. In his 2005 study, "Melville", Andrew Delbanco discusses some of the ways "Moby-Dick" has been read over the years. Delbanco writes:

"Moby-Dick was not a book for a particular moment. It is a book for the ages. What gives it its psychological and moral power is that, freakish as he is, Ahab seems more part of us than apart from us. Like all great literary representations of evil, he is attractive as well as repulsive. And so Melville emerged in the twentieth century as the American Dostoevsky -- a writer who, with terrible clairvoyance, had been waiting for the world to catch up with him."

"Moby-Dick" is long, difficult, and digressive. It is not a straighforward narrative. Melville pauses many times for extended chapters to explore matters seemingly tangential to the intense story he has to tell. The book is written in a baroque, large, blustery and exhuberant prose that is worlds away from the tightness and concision favored by many 20th Century American writers. Melville also knows how to build tension. The work unfolds story and by indirection. A rather lengthy opening section of the book takes place on land in New York City, New Bedford, and Nantucket. Captain Ahab's monomaical character is revealed slowly through hints, offered by a shadowy character with the Biblical name of Elijah and by visions and foreshadowing. A sermon on the Book of Jonah by Father Mapple frames the book and it is quickly contrasted with Queequeg and his attitude towards his gods. When Ahab and many of the main characters appear, the book is already well underway.

The book is narrated in the first person by Ishmael -- a Biblical outcast -- with his famous opening line, "Call me Ishmael". As the story proceeds, however, Melville seeminly disregards the limits of first-person narration as the story describes closely scenes and events well beyond Ishmael's ability to know.

Ishmael denies that the story of Ahab and the great whale is an allegory, and his denial deserves to be thought about and taken seriously. Many readers have found meanings of all sorts in "Moby-Dick", ranging from the personal, through the religious, through the political. Melville was himself a seeker and largely an autodidact with the deepest doubts about religious faith combined with a need to believe. Understanding evil and suffering is at the heart of "Moby-Dick". Ahab fanatically and selfishly pursues the whale and destorys himself and his crew. Ishmael, in signing on to the Pequod and undertaking a voyage hazardous in the best of circumstances is also a seeker in the story. Through luck, prudence, and sense, Ishmael is a survivor.

The story moves between Ahab's quest for the whale and a welter of factual material on the biology of whales, the history of whaling, the techniques of the whale fishery and immeasurably more. These long sections, which puzzle many readers, seem to me integral to the work. Mellville wants the reader to see the difference between a symbol and an icon, taken for good or ill, and the vast being of the natural world. Ahab expands the whale to something metaphysical in his ravings. Melville understands this, and he also understands that the whale is simply a magnificent animal. The various factual chapters move in different ways. Most of them develop a theme at some length before offering philosophical or spiritual questions about the matter under discussion. The broad themes of the book seldom are absent from view.

During the course of the voyage, the Pequod encounters other whalers, some of which seek Ahab's help while others bring messages of the joys of life. Ahab dispenses with what are the overtures of common, shared life with his abrupt opening query to each of them: "Hast Seen the White Whale"? Readers can identify with Ahab to a greater or lesser degree as they try to understand the passions which tend to rule their own lives. There are many extraordinary scenes in this book, not the least of which is the climactic fight between Ahab and the whale at the end.

Amazon's reader reviews allow for many different perspectives on Melville's book from readers with different degrees of familiarity with the text. "Moby-Dick" invites many different readings in searching for the sources of one's demons and for the common life. I have tried to offer some of my own reactions from my recent reading of "Moby-Dick."

Robin Friedman
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haiku, 28 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Moby Dick: or, the White Whale (Kindle Edition)
This book exceeded
My many expectations
Generated by

Star Trek: Wrath of Khan
Simply put: amazingly
Written, but also

Very slow. Melville
Loves to allude to other
Classical works like

The Old Testament
And Homer. This can slow the
Story down a lot

However, Melville
Was a cetological
(Whale science) Expert

Because the book is
Both in terms of prose and in
Terms of subject

Superbly achieved
Like, we're talking an eighteenth
Century Milton

If you're into
That sort of thing, Well then you
Should read this novel
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moby Dick, 3 Jun 2012
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This review is from: Moby Dick: or, the White Whale (Kindle Edition)
Installed the Kindle app on my Mac and then downloaded Moby Dick free. An excellent read prior to a whale watching trip to Iceland. I'll give the book four stars as it was very good value; whale watching three stars as we didn't see any whales and Iceland five stars for the beautiful waterfalls and geysers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true classic, 22 April 2013
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This review is from: Moby Dick: or, the White Whale (Kindle Edition)
I still have a lovely though tattered hardback of this book with the marvellous Rockwell Kent Art Deco illustrations; but I was pleased recently to find that it was available (free!!!) on Kindle, so I now have that too.
Nearly everyone will know the story, either through movies of the book, or the very many stories, comics, films, etc., inspired by it - because it's simply one of the archetypal tales of all time. If you haven't read it yet, though, I'd recommend it; but only if you have the patience to gently absorb what is a sizeable, somewhat rambling book, covering a world of different subjects all wound into the central story. If you do, you'll find it a contemplative delight, beautifully written, interesting in so many ways; and with a strong, stark tale to tell that you'll never forget.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Some great parts, but also some extreme detail, 11 Sep 2014
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This review is from: Moby Dick: or, the White Whale (Kindle Edition)
Review courtesy of www.subtleillumination.com

In 1842, a young man would abandon the whaling ship he was working on to live among reputed cannibals and pursue love affairs with local girls. He would recount these events in bestselling books when he returned home, before destroying his career with a book that received almost universally scathing reviews: Moby-Dick, now listed among the Great American Novels, even called the best book ever written.

At its best, Moby-Dick is excellent: it’s moving, it’s insightful, and it very much captures the sense of the sacred, the spiritual relationship of crew to whale or man to obsession. It can also be fascinating in its detail: entire chapters are devoted to the anatomy of the whale, the symbolism of the colour white, or the role of the whale in art and history. Phrases like “Call me Ishmael” are some of the best known of any book, even among people who haven’t read the original source: it is but one of many unforgettable phrases. Though broadly pro-whaling, it also even has some sympathy with the whales, confronting the fact that the activity necessarily involves tormenting the animals.

For all that, let me confess I found it a little boring, philistine as that may make me. I’m not one to quail at historical detail given my passion for history, and those parts I enjoyed, but particularly the first half I found slow, long descriptive sections filling space between more interesting parts. The book has some great sections and some great lines, but I wouldn’t have minded were it considerably shorter. Still, as a reflection on the personality of man and the necessities of the energy industry, it has much to tell us today: the oil we burn, though not literally in lamps and candles, can still cost blood.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moby Dick, 20 April 2013
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This review is from: Moby Dick: or, the White Whale (Kindle Edition)
Having never seen the film I find this a fascinating insight to whaling. Despite the archaic language and biblical references I am unable to put this book down. Excellent read
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Call me Ishmael'......., 14 July 2012
By 
Pyewacket "czarnowice" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Moby Dick: or, the White Whale (Kindle Edition)
is the very first sentence in this book and these few words always come to mind when anyone mentions this book.

The story is about a White Whale, a Whaling Ship called the Pequod and its Captain, Ahab. Ahab is convinced that the great white whale is the devil incarnate and it is this which drives him on to seek his nemesis and to attempt to kill it.

The merchantmen aboard the Pequod are only paid in the amount of whale oil that is recovered and then taken to shore for processing so when Ahab hears that the whale is going in another direction he orders that the Pequod will follow the whale until he has himself killed it. The men lose many chances to make money because of his obsession and some indeed begin to think that Ahab is mad..............he probably is quite mad by now but religious fervour drives him on until at last he is in sight of the whale which by now is scarred, stuck with old harpoons and rope and seems to Ahab to have an intelligence towards him. Disaster strikes...........anymore would be a huge spoiler to this now classic book.

It goes to show how one mans obsession can lead others to their doom.

I'd recommend this very highly.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A classic. But a long-winded one., 16 Dec 2014
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This review is from: Moby Dick: or, the White Whale (Kindle Edition)
I tried, I really did. I got to chapter 12 and they were only just getting on the bloody boat. You need the patience of a saint to stick with this and read it properly. For example, one passage relaying a church sermon went on for about 10 pages - basically meaning you were taken through the whole sermon in real time. I gave up quarter way through and read the synopsis on Wikipedia instead. Turns out it's a good story...

On the plus side, what I did read was very different from the norm, with hyper-detailed descriptions of everything and a dark, moody air about it. Given it can be downloaded for free it's worth a go, but I doubt I am the first person to fail getting to the end.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Everything you always wanted to know about whales (but were afraid to ask), 7 Dec 2014
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This review is from: Moby Dick: or, the White Whale (Kindle Edition)
This book is epic. Just by its size, it will be left alone by the Twitter generation, who don't have the attention span for such works of literature. But still, it may be understandable in Moby Dick's case. The book is so detailed, I often thought I was listening to a David Attenborough encyclopedia about whales, and not a literary masterpiece by Herman Melville (the audiobook's narrator is quite energetic, despite what he is reading is often far from exciting). While I can appreciate this novel, it has sadly not become one of my favorites.
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