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Moby-Dick (Bantam Classics) [Mass Market Paperback]

by Herman Melville
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (167 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 1, 1981 0553213113 978-0553213119
No American masterpiece casts quite as awesome a shadow as Melville's monumental Moby Dick.  Mad Captain Ahab's quest for the White Whale is a timeless epic--a stirring tragedy of vengeance and obsession, a searing parable about humanity lost in a universe of moral ambiguity.  It is the greatest sea story ever told.  Far ahead of its own time, Moby Dick was largely misunderstood and unappreciated by Melville's contemporaries.  Today, however, it is indisputably a classic.  As D.H. Lawrence wrote, Moby Dick "commands a stillness in the soul, an awe . . . [It is] one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world."

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"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


From the Trade Paperback edition. -- Review

From the Publisher

No American masterpiece casts quite as awesome a shadow as Melville's monumental Moby Dick. Mad Captain Ahab's quest for the White Whale is a timeless epic--a stirring tragedy of vengeance and obsession, a searing parable about humanity lost in a universe of moral ambiguity. It is the greatest sea story ever told. Far ahead of its own time, Moby Dick was largely misunderstood and unappreciated by Melville's contemporaries. Today, however, it is indisputably a classic. As D.H. Lawrence wrote, Moby Dick "commands a stillness in the soul, an awe . . . [It is] one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world."

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Classics (February 1, 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553213113
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553213119
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 4.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (167 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,414 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
(167)
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
500 of 524 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is gonna make it! January 18, 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Finishing "Moby Dick" goes up there with my greatest (and few) academic achievements. It was a gruelling read, but---in the end---completely worthwhile.
I've been reading it for 6 months. I started over the summer, during an abroad program in Oxford, and I remember sitting outside reading when one of the professors came over, saw what I was reading, and said: "It's a very strange book, isn't it?"
Looking back, that might be the best way to describe it. The blurb from D.H. Lawrence on the back cover agrees: Moby Dick "commands a stillness in the soul, an awe...[it is] one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world."
Now there are those who will say that the book's middle is unbearable---with its maddeningly detailed accounts of whaling. Part of me agrees. That was the hardest to get through. But, still, even the most dull subject offers Melville an opportunity to show off his writing chops. He's a fantastic writer---his text most resembles that of Shakespeare.
And, like one Shakespeare's characters, Melville sees all the world as a stage.
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160 of 169 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Unless you are a naval historian or a Melville scholar, you probably won't have a rewarding (or even comprehensible) time with Moby-Dick at this remove unless the edition you're using comes with a good set of footnotes. Here's the skinny on the various editions currently on shelves:

THESE HAVE FOOTNOTES ON THE PAGE ITSELF:

* Charles Feidelson, Jr.'s annotated edition. Unquestionably the most all-around useful edition of Moby-Dick ever printed. Generous and highly useful footnotes right on the page, covering lexical, allusional, and cross-referential items. Two disadvantages: you may at times feel put upon by Feidelson's interlarded interpretations, and the thing is totally out of print. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1964. ISBN: 067260311X

* The "Norton critical" edition, edited by Parker and Hayford. The edition most widely employed by scholars. Stingier with the footnotes than Feidelson, but still a good second choice. Many useful essays at the end. The layout of the text is a bit hard on the eye, though. Make sure you get the SECOND edition, from 2001. ISBN: 0393972836

* The "Barnes and Noble Classics" edition. The footnotes for the most part are skimpy and confined to obscure vocabulary, not cultural and literary allusions. ISBN: 1-59308-018-2

THESE HAVE A FOOTNOTES SECTION IN THE BACK OF THE BOOK:

* The "Oxford World Classics" edition. About 11 pp. at the end. ISBN: 0-19-283385-5

* The "Modern Library" edition. About 13 pp. at the end. ISBN: 0-679-78327-X

* The "Penguin Classics" edition. About 15 pp. of notes at the end by Tom Quirk. ISBN: 0-14-24.3724-7 (This is their fancy hardbound version: see next item.)

* The "Penguin Classics" edition. About 15 pp.
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127 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Approaching Melville with Fear and Awe March 16, 2005
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I find the prospect of reviewing this book quite daunting. Melville didn't write a typical novel in Moby Dick, even by his own standards. And reactions to the work are passionate and passionately divided, even to this day. Setting sail in this Melvillian squall is a difficult prospect, but despite my hesitations, I'm going to give it a go and say that, despite it's many technical flaws, Melville's book is the touchstone for American literature, much as Ives' music is the touchstone for American composition. Melville managed to find a voice that was distinctively "New World" and yet also universal enough to speak to the existential questions that have plagued humans since we first turned our heads to the sky to ask "Why".

Some things are truly subjective....such as book reactions. The issue with Melville in general is that he is a flawed genius. Moby Dick is not a perfect book in the sense than a Henry James novel might be perfect. It's not even as tight as Dostoevsky...and he's no model of literary tightness. I think when people have trouble with Moby Dick it's because that for them, the flaws outweigh the virtues....

The book is a stylistic hodgepodge, and this is probably exactly what makes it difficult for many readers. It starts out as a plain sailing yarn, much like Melville's earlier Typee or Redburn...or Richard Dana's Three Years Behind the Mast. But then it changes into a philosophical drama with many, many "informative" chapters that can at times read like a whaling primer rather than a novel. And the drama part is one part sea adventure and two parts Shakespeare....
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Whales or Moby Dick
Very simply it was one of the worst books I've read and since Kindle has put all of the classics up for free I'm going through all of them. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Laurie
2.0 out of 5 stars A Ghastly Read
While Melville's book is considered to be at the very center of great American novels, the author recites a story with so many wandering pig trails, it is difficult to read without... Read more
Published on January 19, 2012 by Wesley Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Melville's Prophecy for America
Over 300 reviews of this book so far, so what more can be said? Yes, the print is small in this compact mass-market paperback but the story and themes are gigantic. Read more
Published on January 5, 2012 by CB
1.0 out of 5 stars 2smal2read
I bought this book for a friend in jail. Alas, he was unable to read it because the font was too small.
Published on October 9, 2009 by Dennis S. Rybicki
5.0 out of 5 stars Hearts alive!
This is one of those books I have always known about, the more I read, the more the novel was referenced. Read more
Published on May 30, 2009 by C. Hyland
5.0 out of 5 stars Strange but...
The strangeness is what makes Moby-Dick so exceptional and an indisputable classic. It was quite a difficult and long read, but upon completion, it was, without a doubt, completely... Read more
Published on August 29, 2007 by R. Icks
4.0 out of 5 stars the whale's tale
O.K. 80% of this novel is boring as hell, unless you're into the history of whaling. But the other 20%, wow! Read more
Published on July 20, 2007 by Charlie B
5.0 out of 5 stars Life changing
This story will make you forget your troubles and I don't think anyone can read it and not be affected in a personal way. I plan on reading it every decade I am alive.
Published on June 15, 2007 by Melissa AMP
5.0 out of 5 stars A Whale of a Tale
I really enjoyed this classic tale as one whose descriptive imagery of the high seas forced me to reminisce about my times out on the ocean and my love for ships. Read more
Published on May 16, 2007 by Walt Evans
4.0 out of 5 stars Moby Dick Book Review
Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, is a four star book.

I gave Moby Dick a four star rating for its eciting and adventurous plot. Read more
Published on February 7, 2007
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Best edition?
After perusing about 5 or so different editions at the book store, I went with the Norton Critical Edition 2nd edition. The main reason for my choice was the copious footnotes supplied throughout the text. Moby Dick contains numerous references to the history, arts, and sciences of all ages,... Read more
Jan 28, 2010 by Alan Glick |  See all 9 posts
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