Author: Herman Melville (1819-1891)
First Published: 1851
My Edition: Penguin Classic (at right-and I want to just say that I really do adore that cover. It seems so powerful, doesn't it?)
Other Works Include: Typee (1846), Redburn (1849), Piazza Tales (1856), Timoleon (1891), Billy Budd (1924-discovered by his biographer in 1919)
I have been craving a book I can sink my teeth into. Most of my reading over the summer months has been limited to short books that I have been finishing in 1 or 2 short sittings. But now that fall is here, I really want a book I can dive into and absorb over a week or two.
I have been curious about Moby-Dick since I was in college. For one of my favorite college English classes, we had to read Typee. My professor was very adamant about why he chose that novel over Moby-Dick. He didn't want people to drop the class when they saw the reading list. Even so, there were many of us wary of reading Melville. We all knew him as "that guy" who wrote about "that whale." And the first line of this novel, "Call me Ishmael," is legendary. Melville is just one of those intimidating writers we all hear about somewhere and form preconceptions about without actually knowing anything about them!
But, I ended up loving Typee. I remember thinking that Melville really had a gift with stringing words together effortlessly. His writing was just beautiful. Even with that positive experience, however, I haven't given Melville a second chance.
I suppose he is getting that now. And while I am a little worried about reading a book about a whale, I know that the story is more than that. Melville was writing during a fascinating time in American history, and I know that part of that American spirit is captured in this. I also tend to love books dealing with the sea and voyages. Some of my recent reads (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Treasure Island) have spurred that bit of adventurous spirit within me, so I certainly hope Melville and ol' Ishmael up there are up for the challenge. :)
Who has read this one? thoughts?
I think you will like it. Melville can string words well. You should remember though, that many of the chapters are nonfiction detailing the practices and particulars of whaling and whales and life on a whaling ship. If you can take off your "fiction hat" and put on your information-seeking "nonfiction hat", then switch back for the story parts, you'll do better. IMHO.ReplyDelete
I have, mememe! I LOVE MOBY DICK (that's what she said [if she is me not making a dirty joke]). It is LE DENSE and if you find yourself being bogged down- especially during the chapter-long descriptions of whaling equipment- I recommend switching to the audio book. There's a free version on Librivox. Otherwise, I thought it was totes bad-ass. Ahab is so gothically tortured and crazy. It's great. Listen NOT to the whiners!ReplyDelete
If you like the cover, there is a lot more where that came from. The artist is Rockwell Kent, one of the greatest American print-makers and book illustrators.ReplyDelete
"Call me Ishmael" is definitely not the first line of Moby-Dick! "The pale Usher--threadbare in coat, heart, body, and brain; I see him now."
Once you are done, I have thoughts and more thoughts over at Wuthering Expectations. And nicole has bibliographing has done a nearly comprehensive Melville series.
Melville's despair and lack of success during his hifetime break my heart, so I always feel that anyone who's reading Moby-Dick today is in some way helping to lift a burden from the shoulders of Melville's ghost....ReplyDelete
This one has been on my list for a long time, but it is a bit intimidating. I'm really excited to see what you think of it and then maybe I'll dive in next year. I always want to read big tomes in Jan/Feb.ReplyDelete
I read this one as a college sophomore and it was tough but I ended up really liking it. Had to write a paper over it so I read most of it twice. I don't like Melville's shorter fiction, though. I really wanted to do a readalong of Moby Dick this fall but considering I haven't finished a paper book since July, I think it's out of the question. Definitely one to sink your teeth into!ReplyDelete
I read it when I was about 16-17 and loved it! Do you know that movie 'Matilda'? Well, the little girl was reading 'Moby Dick' and one day I found it at my library translated. I've never had a single English lit class in my life so I haven't learned about the symbolistic parts of the novel and interpreted it in my own way which is as good as any other way since reading is a pleasure. I found myself rooting for the whale and completely enthralled by the colorful characters.ReplyDelete
People should stop being intimidated by chunky books because they're missing out on some great ones! I'll probably re-read it in English someday.
Oh, I wish I could read this, but I have so many other reading commitments right now. Grr! I got a beautiful copy from Penguin books a few months ago and I really want to read it. How soon are you starting and how fast are you reading it?ReplyDelete
The whale was a giant fail for me. I got about 1/3 of the way through and couldn't stand it anymore, even though I was reading it as part of a readalong.ReplyDelete
This is one I should revisit. I didn't particularly like it fifteen years ago, but that says nothing about what I'd make of it today...ReplyDelete
It was never the content that scared me about this one; it was the length. Someday I'll have to give it a whirl.ReplyDelete
You definitely have me interested in this one!!! :-)ReplyDelete
I have never read Moby Dick, or anything be Melville for that matter. (Although, it's one of those many books on my list.) In high school we were given the choice between this and The Scarlet Letter. Apparently, I was more interested in adulterers than whales. (Come to think of it, I wonder why the teacher gave us the choice: only one person actually read Moby Dick.)ReplyDelete
looking forward to reading your thoughts (yes, I'm behind in reading blogs, again...as always)ReplyDelete