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Moby Dick: Or, the Whale (Penguin Popular Classics) Paperback – 25 Jan 2007

4.0 out of 5 stars 324 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (25 Jan. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140620621
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140620627
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 2 x 18.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (324 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 727,848 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


" 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 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Sometimes literary reviews put me off (no offense to other reviewers) so this is simply my review on this book. Moby Dick is a tough read it's true. It starts off fine enough, reading very much like a regular novel, but once aboard the ship certain chapters start veering off-story and end up reading more like an encyclopaedia of whales and whaling. The story itself though is a good one and is actually both funny and gripping. There are some very funny moments, right in the first chapters I found myself laughing at the actions of some characters, and further into the story it is gripping. For those that don't know the basic story of Moby Dick is told from Ishmael's point of view as he joins a crew on the ship to go whaling. Along the way we learn of the captain's obsession to catch the white whale, Moby Dick.

I won't go into too much detail as not to spoil it but this classic is still worth the read if you can last through the more factual chapters. These chapters can be boring to read for those more interested in a good story but you actually do end up learning a lot about the different whales and how the whole whaling worked in the past. However you do at times feel like wondering if the factual bits will ever end. The book can actually be a little squeamish for devout animal lovers as there's quite detailed explanations of removing the blubber from whales but of course this book IS about whaling.

The ending of the story actually kept me engrossed I just had to finish the last chapter. I was surprised how much I wanted to read the end, after a few very long factual chapters the pace of the story really picked up towards the end and I was glad to get through this book, the ending for me does not disappoint.
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By John Ferngrove TOP 500 REVIEWER on 19 Aug. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The prose is so vivid that the only comparison that comes to mind is Shakespeare. Some sentences or paragraphs are so finely wrought as to hit you between the eyes, and as such I can say that I am glad I have read it, and if life were longer I might even read it again. However, I have to concede that the book is very hard work. What story there is all takes place in the last 25 pages and is an action tour-de-force, but the previous 400 or so pages are lengthy and wordy digressions on whales, whaling and all conceivable ancillary topics, which at their worst are maddeningly garrulous. The characterisation is poor, unsurprisingly given that so little of the text is devoted to the players. Ishmael, the narrator is virtually a disembodied observer who brings little of himself to the action. Ahab is the tortured megalomaniac for whom we are given no opportunity for sympathy or empathy. All the other human characters, namely the ship's crew, are mere automata. Those of a nautical bent might get excited about the details of the ship, the Pequod, which is more lovingly written than the humans or the whales, but I'm not that way inclined.

I can see this book being truly relished by hardcore literature buffs with a love of ships and the sea, but I can't help but feel that just about anyone else would find it very heavy going.
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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Paperback
I read Moby-Dick for the first time when I was about 18, and have re-read it at least three or four times since. It is without a shadow of a doubt one of the most impressive books in Western literature, about ever so much more than the mere chase for a white whale.

It's about friendship, love, hubris, passion, the search for the meaning of life, etc. etc. Longwinded at times? Yes, definitely. Obscure? That too. Unless you're intimately acquainted with the Old Testament, Shakespeare, classical Greek drama and just about everything else in Western art it's a good idea to buy an edition that comes with ample footnotes.

But if you then take the time and effort this book deserves, it might very well be a life-changing experience as it was for me, that will sometimes make you stop and think for years afterwards.
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