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Moby Dick

or The Whale

Cover image for


Author: Herman Melville
Published: 1851
Language: English
Wordcount: 210,997 / 605 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 69.6
LoC Category: PS
Downloads: 89,865 4852

The voyage of the whaling ship Pequod, commanded by Captain Ahab, who leads his crew on a hunt for the great whale Moby Dick, reveals a profound meditation on society, nature, and the human struggle for meaning, happiness, and salvation. Often considered the epitome of American Romanticism, the novel is now considered one of the greatest novels in the English language.

Show Excerpt

to a dim sort of light not far from the docks, and heard a forlorn creaking in the air; and looking up, saw a swinging sign over the door with a white painting upon it, faintly representing a tall straight jet of misty spray, and these words underneath--"The Spouter Inn:--Peter Coffin."

Coffin?--Spouter?--Rather ominous in that particular connexion, thought I. But it is a common name in Nantucket, they say, and I suppose this Peter here is an emigrant from there. As the light looked so dim, and the place, for the time, looked quiet enough, and the dilapidated little wooden house itself looked as if it might have been carted here from the ruins of some burnt district, and as the swinging sign had a poverty-stricken sort of creak to it, I thought that here was the very spot for cheap lodgings, and the best of pea coffee.

It was a queer sort of place--a gable-ended old house, one side palsied as it were, and leaning over sadly. It stood on a sharp bleak corner, where that tempestuous wind Euroclydo

Reader Reviews

Average Rating of 4.5 from 6 reviews: *****
Ken Livingston

This was required reading years ago and should still be today.


This is my favorite book. Melville catalogs both the human spirit and the its dealings in society. Is killing the whale, for Ahab, equivocal to killing God? Or, is it killing capitalism? That's something you have to figure out for yourself. "Moby Dick" gets an excellent from me.

Carl Heerwagen

Its a great book but a little long winded. Old scientific explanations and how things are done are ok but that took half the book. The movies were ok but did not show the human side of Captain Ahab like the book does. In all a good read.


Ishmael the philosopher and Ishmael the whaler are both readily apparent throughout the novel as grand explorers. One peers into the hearts of man and the other, into the hearts of whales. Both are complex in their propensity to enlighten the reader, but this is what makes Moby Dick so profound, because every time you read it, you pick up some new idea, brimming with oceanic ideas.


Sometimes you just have to remind yourself that classics are called classic for a reason. I started reading this with some trepidation, not expecting that I'd like a story about a whaling expedition. I was wrong. It was a terrific story, epic in scope, of the hunt by Captain Ahab for the great white whale, Moby Dick. I expected it to be an adventure about hunting a whale, which it was, but it was so much more. In some respects, it was a much different story than I've ever read. The narrator, Ishmael, not only tells us the story, but explains to us in minute detail, numerous aspects of the whaling trade. He explains to us about different type of whales, whaling boats themselves, and the process of killing and striping a whale. He also gives us in-depth looks at a great many of the personalities aboard the whaling ship, the Pequod, including the brave, tragic, obsessed Captain Ahab, his mates, and his crew.

All this sounds like a great deal to take in, and it is. Though a work of fiction, it's nearly an entire course in the mechanics of whaling. It seems every other chapter strikes out in a new direction to explain some aspect of the story. The story is laden with soliloquies from the various characters as they ponder their places in the universe and on the Pequod. Sounds boring doesn't it?

It's not. The genius of Melville is that he can weave so many disparate threads into such a compelling tale. I found that as the story picked up momentum, I had more and more trouble setting my e-reader down.

Although you know how this tale will end, you'll find yourself in eager anticipation of the epic battle with the whale. And it's worth the wait.

If you don't want to devote the time or concentration required, pass on this book. It's graphic in detail at times, and disturbing at times. But I am glad I read it.


Not bad if you are into movies where the setting is the ocean. Show the true sense of what creates someone. Not my favorite but something worth reading/ watching.



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