Moby Dick (Paperback)
"Call me Ishmael."
Thus begins one of the most famous journeys in literature--the voyage of the whaling ship Pequod and its embattled, monomaniacal Captain Ahab. Ishmael quickly learns that the Pequod's captain sails for revenge against the elusive Moby Dick, a sperm whale with a snow-white hump and mottled skin that destroyed Ahab's former vessel and left him crippled. As the Pequod sails deeper through the nights and into the sea, the divisions between man and nature begin to blur--so do the lines between good and evil, as the fates of the ship's crewmen become increasingly unclear....
Melville's classic tale of obsession and the sea, one of the most important and enduring masterworks of nineteenth-century literature, Moby Dick is a riveting drama, exploring rage, hope, destiny, and the deepest questions of moral truth.
About the Author
Herman Melville's reputation was immediately established in 1846 with the publication of his first novel, Typee, yet for the most part he lived in near-seclusion and died in relative obscurity for a man of his talents. He wasn't fully appreciated until the 20th century. The conservative religious Americans of his day didn't trust him: his unorthodoxy regarding religion, his South Seas travels, his cynicism, his bitter criticism of the hypocrisy of missionaries, and his satires of religion and religious figures made him an outcast. Today, however, some critics claim that only Dostoyevsky is his equal among 19th century writers. At seventeen, he became a merchant seaman, sailing first to Liverpool, where the sexual activity at the docks at first shocked him but then opened up a new world for him, for he was attracted to men. At age twenty-one, he sailed to the South Pacific. Four novels came from this experience: Typee, Omoo, Mardi, and White Jacket. Another early novel, Redburn, is set primarily aboard ship. Philosophically, the strength of his early novels is his disdain for the white man trying to force civilization onto a people who were blissfully happy without it. He particularly objected to the indoctrination of religion. All of the books contain an undeniable homoeroticism. Melville moved to the countryside to write Moby Dick. The novel is an adventure story and a tale of revenge, but it is also an audacious experiment. The reaction from critics was so harsh that from the publication of Moby Dick in 1851 until about 1938, Melville was not afforded much respect among scholars. In 1852, Melville published Pierre, which is autobiographical in its anatomy of the despair Melville was feeling at the rejection of Moby Dick. Pierre was scandalous for its day, almost as if Melville were thumbing his nose at society. Melville was now only thirty-two but considered a failed writer. His next story was refused for publication, so he retired and lived in relative obscurity for the remainder of his days. When he died, however, he left Billy Budd, which some critics think the equal of Moby Dick.