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Moby Dick (Wordsworth Classics) Paperback – 5 May 1992
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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 title includes an Introduction and Notes by David Herd, lecturer in English and American Literature at the University of Kent at Canterbury. "Moby-Dick" is the story of Captain Ahab's quest to avenge the whale that 'reaped' his leg. The quest is an obsession and the novel is a diabolical study of how a man becomes a fanatic. But it is also a hymn to democracy. Bent as the crew is on Ahab's appalling crusade, it is equally the image of a co-operative community at work: all hands dependent on all hands, each individual responsible for the security of each. Among the crew is Ishmael, the novel's narrator, ordinary sailor, and extraordinary reader. Digressive, allusive, vulgar, transcendent, the story Ishmael tells is above all an education: in the practice of whaling, in the art of writing.See all Product description
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Celebrating 25 Years Of Classics
Wordsworth Editions have been producing their classics since 1992. With well over 250 titles in print, the combination of great value and top quality production has made them an enduringly popular choice with lovers of great literature.
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Schools are well used to having to work within a limited budget so Wordsworth's Classics are the perfect solution. With around 50 set texts on offer, all with exclusive introductions, they offer great value.
Over 400 Titles in Print
The Classics and Children's Classics are only part of the Wordsworth range, which features essential works of Philosophy, Economics and Poetry along with Tales of Mystery and Supernatural.
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Its structure and plotting were ahead of its time, which was probably one reason it never did that well at its original publication, but also this holds up a mirror to us all, and to be honest no one likes to see themselves, warts and all. With one of the most famous openings in all of literature, ‘Call me Ishmael.’ it is simple and yet eloquent. Within its multiple narrative style so we hear from our narrator, but also this does give us other perspectives throughout, as it draws on many influences and other works, giving us not only an intimate portrayal of the whaling business and life on a whaling ship, but also the different types of whale, and what the whole business was set up for.
Of course as we all know, what should be just a normal whaling voyage becomes something more here, as Captain Ahab is set on vengeance, wanting to locate the whale Moby-Dick, that has crippled him. Changing to a script at times, thus making some chapters more like a play so the structure and planning of this was unlike anything that went before, but it all meshes together quite seamlessly.
Taking in such themes as religion, spirituality, bigotry, the pursuit of the mighty dollar, revenge, hate and love, with friendship and so on this has much to offer any reader, although as with any intelligently written book that takes in many themes and issues this does require a close and careful read to gain the full effect and power of the story. After all, if you think that this is just a novel about whaling, I am sorry to say that you have not understood what you have read. In all once read this is something that you won’t easily forget and is in all a fantastically wonderful piece of prose, showing that the novel is a form that can offer us so much.
The first part of the book is fun, documenting how Ishmael and Quequeg meet and get their berths on Pequod, as are the hunting scenes and the chapters dealing with the taxonomy and anatomy of the whale. I don't think they are put together very well though.
As for Ahab's lunacy, I didn't really care about it. The guy is bitter because he got his leg bitten off. Melville's treatment of this seems vastly inferior to that of Joseph Conrad's of numerous similar basket cases.
The sea story elements were less riveting than those of Conrad or even Captain Marryat, who was paid by magazines by the word. I was left wondering whether Melville wrote Moby Dick with this form of publication in mind. The book seems to me like something that would have made a good novella in the hands of Conrad and could have been much improved by some savage editing.
The style of writing and the language used is so archaic, which since it was written around 150 years ago is not surprising, makes most of the book a struggle both to read and to understand, it also doesn’t help that the author isn’t just telling a story but is also trying to educate the reader in the religious mythology of the whale and the scientific classification and anatomy of it also, which make the first half of the book very ponderous.
Having said all that, I am glad I finally read it.