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Showing 1-10 of 2,220 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 3,007 reviews
on July 19, 2015
I read Moby-Dick several times in college almost forty years ago. Now I'm taking a night class and reading it with life experience of forty years. Awe is the feeling that constantly gets evoked as I read. Why awe?

Capacious. That is the word that repeats again and again in my head. Moby-Dick is a vibrantly colored hot air balloon that keeps growing in size as I read it. First, Melville's subject is the sperm whale, the largest creature on earth. But we don't just learn about the sperm whale but about all whales. Then we learn about whaling and its nobility. Here is where it gets very interesting. We participate in whaling, its skill, equipment, courage, risks and economy AND about how it results in the gruesome destruction of the whale. We feel the horror inflicted on the whales and we feel the nobility of the activity that slaughters them. Melville doesn't allow us to avert our eyes either to the daring of whaling or to the viciousness of the slaughter. That is where the book inflates even more because he holds both perspectives equally which is a much larger place than if he had taken sides.

The book also foreshadows modernism by using a variety of narrative techniques; theater, pure narration, encyclopedic explanations and subjective interior monologues. Melville is constantly breaking up the narrative with omniscient recitations of fascinating information about his subject matter. And like Ulysses or the Waste Land, he piles on the reference to Shakespeare, the Greeks, Christianity and the Hebrew traditions.

There are many references with regard to Ahab and the Whale regarding evil and Satan. Yet Ahab has great respect and reverence for Moby Dick. Ahab himself knows he is obsessed and but can have great compassion like his feelings for the lowly addled Pip. So yes there is evil afoot in the book but it isn't the kind that that creates simple polar opposites. As Ahab describes Moby-Dick (has) `an inscrutable malice sinewing through it' that describe the book as well. There is evil and there is also goodness that coexists in the book making the reader feel that he has to take sides. If the reader resists this temptation he or she will experience the awe of a deep and ever expanding mystery.
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on July 30, 2016
I had avoided reading this monster of a book for many years. What was I thinking!? This is one of the greatest American novels of all time for a reason. It's what a millenial like myself would call an epic, although I believe romance was the term used by Hawthorne. Moby Dick is a mixture of fiction, auto-biography, non-fiction, etc. I doubt those genres really describe it . There is a point in the book where it actually turns into a Shakespearean play. After that it reverts back to Melvilles treatise on the sperm whale. Some say it's a strange book, but dang does Melville just knock it out of the park . Moby Dick was a page turner for me.
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on December 26, 2016
Ever since I was 17 or 18 years old, I have ALWAYS been fascinated with the beauty-and ferocity of whales, through watching documentaries and gazing upon whale paintings, especially one that I'd seen with my family within an art gallery in Lahaina, Maui. While reading Moby Dick for the very first time, Melville's very elaborate depictions of species of whales (which quite often were a bit TOO agonizingly long) could have been taken from a whale anatomy book. And while reading these depictions, it almost felt as if I were taking an advanced course on whale anatomy, perhaps in training to become a marine biological expert on whales.

Anyway, I'll simply cut right to the chase- while I'd been reading the graphic depictions of the whale, I was traveling upon a most disturbing journey within the mind of the relentless, monomaniacal Captain Ahab. The loss of half of one of Ahab's legs is a loss that shatters this man's sane and rational thinking to its very core. Forget about killing whales for profit-Ahab holds a personal, if not murderous, grudge against the beast that tore off his limb. And in the process, Ahab's crew suffers the tragic and deadly consequences of his vengefully insane actions.

The moral of this classic, epic novel can teach us all the painful, yet most valuable lesson of the futility of holding onto personal grudges, as it only further fuels one's bitterness, which then turns to lust for vengeance. And whether or not that vengeance is satisfied, a man can only suffer his greatest downfall: the destruction of his very soul.
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on August 5, 2012
This is not a review of the book "Typee" but only the Kindle edition. The Penguin edition is based upon modern scholarship, choosing among four texts to create one version that may be close to Melleville's original intent. But the Kindle version is full of typos, word substitutions, and other artifacts of optical character recognition. There is about one typo per page

Shame on Penguin for offering such a corrupted version of what was a well-edited edition. Buy the paperback if you care about this.
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on May 11, 2017
This is the story of one man's (Ahab's) crazed compulsion to kill a white whale which had on a previous voyage taken his leg. Bottom-line, this is a story about vengeance, and the price of vengeance.

The story is told by Ishmael who, tired of his life as a teacher, boarded a whaler, the Pequod, as part of a 30 man crew.
Ishmael becomes the witness to Ahab's insane drive to destroy the whale which had, in a certain sense, destroyed him.

In the end, in the book's final 3 chapters, Ahab wounds (mortally?) the whale while, at the same time, the whale takes the lives of Ahab and his entire crew, save Ishmael, who lived to tell the tale..

Moby Dick is a tale of compulsion and destruction, a tale which Melville enhances with background, background, background...about whales, whalers, and whaling, and about mid-19th century life on the ocean. But, above all, it is a tale about one man, Ahab, whose craziness and control ultimately doomed himself, his boat, and every sailor who boarded the Pequod with him.

It is not a happy tale.
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on July 18, 2017
After reading Herman Melville's renown classic "Moby Dick" for the first time, this book has become one of my favorites. Melville writes with incredible skill as sentences are saturated with adverbs and adjectives; colorful metaphors are laden throughout. And while many today might find such meandrous writing painstakingly laborious (Just get to the point, Melville), I found it rather refreshing. In an instant gratification age where media looks to provide entertainment at the expense of meaning, there is nothing like a book that requires some thinking to accompany it.

It is with such writing that Melville makes whaling seem a most desirable career path (never mind it is currently illegal by international law!). The serenity of standing aloft the mainmast, is so brilliantly described that I, someone who has no real desire for sea-crafting, found myself longing to quit my day job for the escape of the infinite sea. The work required in the industry gives the reader much appreciation for such peril inviting, hard working men. Whaling was a historically risky venture, that for centuries provided oil for the world's lamps.

But "Moby Dick", while it is many things, it is at its heart is a story about humanity. And though Melville is quite a fan of humanity, this novel revolves around a representation of mankind gone wrong in the character of Ahab. It is a story of what happens when ambition is unchecked; it is a picture of what prideful, unrestrained defiance against a higher power looks like. Ahab is described as monomaniacal throughout the book, completely engrossed in this one obsession of enacting revenge on the whale that had previously left him maimed. He dreams of the whale. He forces his crew to engage in some sort of cultic ritual which they swear together to never rest until that whale is dead. Later on he forges a special harpoon for the whale, and each harpooner baptizes the spear with drops of their own blood. And while similar men would learn the lesson of what happens when you cross the white whale (stay away from it!), memory of the prior clash only further buries Ahab into his self-destructing pursuit. "What is best let alone, that accursed thing is not always what least allures."

But interestingly enough, Melville gives us a few glimpses of the human side of the madman. In what may be the climax of the book, the Quaker First Mate Starbuck, entreats the maniac to turn home before the first chase of the whale. "Oh my Captain! my Captain! noble soul! grand old heart, after all! why should any one give chase to that hated fish! Away with me! let us fly these deadly waters! let us home! Wife and child, too, are Starbuck's--wife and child of his brotherly, sisterly, playfellow youth; even as thine, sire the wife and child of thy, loving, longing, paternal old age...I think, sir, they have some such mild blue days, even as this, in Nantucket." It is here that Melville reveals a fraction of fleshy heart in the thoroughly calloused old man. Ahab responds: "They have, they have. I have seen them--some summer days in the morning. About this time--yes, it is his noon nap now--the boy vivaciously wakes; sits up in bed; an his mother tells him of me, of cannibal old me; how I am abroad upon the deep, but will yet come back to dance him again." Ahab in the deepest part of his heart, longs for his family--for his child. Even in the midst of his madness, he wants to be free of it. Could hope remain for so deluded and craven a soul?

After further begging to turn back from Starbuck, Melville writes what might be the saddest portion of the book: "But Ahab's glance was averted; like a blighted fruit tree he shook, and cast his last, cindered apple to the soil." Ahab then blames fate, "some invisible power" that leaves him unable to abate his demonic pursuit of Moby Dick. This, this is what happens when mankind goes wrong, when mankind is in "too deep". Ahab, though in his heart of hearts he longs for freedom from his chains, he has too long fed the monster within. He cannot get out, and his long hardened heart is sure to bring doom to himself and his crew.

The story of Ahab is then a billboard sized warning sign to the rest of us. It is a warning that that screams in all caps the caution previously given to Ahab: BEWARE OF THYSELF. For the same arrogance, the same morbidness of "mortal greatness" is within us. And if we allow it, if we desensitize ourselves to our own desires long enough, we will also like Ahab, reap what we have sown.

"In pursuit of those far mysteries we dream of, or in tormented chase of that demon phantom that, some time or other, swims before all human hearts; while chasing such over this round globe, they either lead us on in barren mazes or midway leave us whelmed."
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on June 4, 2013
Author Lance Stahlberg and illustrator Lalit Kumar Singh do a stupendous job at tackling one of the longest novels in American literature in graphic format. Stahlberg is faithful to Melville in plot and characterization. While I read it, I felt that I was part of the movie. Captain Ahab's vibrant and dynamic albeit twisted personality was not lost in this adaptation. And Lilat's artwork was simply gorgeous and outstanding. If students are reluctant to tackle the original version of Moby Dick (and I can't blame them for that), this is it. Stahlberg's language is dynamic and exciting so that it is impossible to stop reading it. You can still discuss the literary elements and themes with this graphic text. The book has a couple of informative pages about the sperm whale, the existence of the true Moby Dick, and whalers of the nineteenth century. The book certainly deserves its place in the classroom. I highly recommend it.
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on November 13, 2012
From previous experience I knew there used to be a bug that prevented the original Kindle from linking to footnotes in some content. Thanks to the unnamed programmer who finally fixed this .The content pages are all complete and the text is clear. And the footnote linking works. It appears that Amazon has cleaned up the formatting of Kindle content a lot in the past year. Now if they'd offer to re-download clean versions of our previous purchases, that would really boost customer loyalty. As to the content, I'd say that $3 for a portable copy of this classic is a good bargain.
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on January 31, 2012
Unless you are a naval historian or a Melville scholar, you probably won't have a rewarding (or even comprehensible) time with much of 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 you are likely to find on shelves these days:


* 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. If you are writing a serious paper on this novel, you’d be foolish to be without this edition.

* The "Norton critical" edition, edited by Parker and Hayford. The edition most widely employed by scholars. Stingier with the footnotes than Feidelson’s, 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 "B***** and N**** Classics" edition. The footnotes for the most part are skimpy and confined to obscure vocabulary, not cultural and literary allusions, but there is a good dictionary of sea terms. There is also a 41-page introduction. ISBN: 1-59308-018-2. Alternatively, 978-1-59308-018-1. One could do worse.

* Moby-Dick: An Authoritative Text (Norton Critical Edition). Warrants a special explanation for what it tries to be. This edition is for textual scholars. It incorporates the little differences between the British and American texts in the running text! If you have no idea what I just said, you shouldn't buy this edition. For copyright reasons, Moby Dick was first published in Britain (!) by Bentley, although the American publisher, Harper & Row, was already in possession of the MS. Melville took that MS and made many corrections, and this became the British edition! So the British edition should be the authoritative text, right? Except here's the problem. Melville's corrected MS was additionally bowdlerized by Bentley's editors, so the final product does indeed contain many differences from the Ur-text (the one published later, by Harper & Row). So the decades-old problem is: which of the corrections were made by Melville himself and which were made by the British censors? Sleuthing this out is in fact the foundation of most Moby Dick textual criticism, a field that, incidentally, has seen better days. This would be an easy question to resolve if we found that MS corrected in Melville's hand. Tragically, however, we have not -- at least as of this writing. So what this Longman edition attempts to do is print the American edition, the Ur-text, with the British revisions overlaid in darker text, so you can see where the corrections were made. Previous editions, such as the Norton, did this with lists at the back of the book. In cases where it's not clear whether it was Melville or the censors, there'll be a little sidebar at the bottom of the page. So that's basically what you're looking at. In addition, of course, there are all these graphs and illustrations, footnotes, introductory essays, etc. Anyhow. What a worthy purchase, but only for deep-divers. Amazon ASIN: B009W58IXU.


* 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. Note that recent printings of this have been including the famous illustrations by Rockwell Kent, which are often deemed never to have been surpassed.

* 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" Dexluxe edition. About 15 pp. of notes at the end by Tom Quirk. ISBN: 0-14-03-9084-7 (This is their paperback edition, which looks totally different but is exactly the same as the previous entry. This claims to be the "definitive text," but any such claim is spurious, but see above for a discussion of good discussion of why. Penguin previously came out with an identical-looking but much thicker version annotated by Harold Beaver: the notes for that edition were copious, but on the whole too fanciful and self-indulgent to be of much use.) A recent printing, ISBN 978 014 243 7247 has a 28-page introduction by Andrew Delbanco, who recently published a biography of Melville. Otherwise, the explanatory notes at the end of the book are the same as those by Tom Quirk. Note there are also maps and an impressive glossary of nautical terms, making this final incarnation a worthy purchase.

* The "Library of America" edition. (This is the one that is included in the same volume with "Redburn" and "White Jacket.") About 9 pp. of notes at the end. Unfortunately, they're a bit skimpy. You see, they're of the "go get it yourself" kind. For example, when Melville writes, "send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger," the footnotes -- the incidence of which is not marked in the running text -- merely says "Luke 16:24". In other words, you've got to look it up yourself. So I would characterize the footnotes as sparse and taciturn: they'll clue you in to the source, but as for the exact wording of something and its accumulated historical connotations, you've got to come up with those yourself. ISBN: 0-940450-09-7


Why do publishers still print editions of Moby Dick without any footnotes or glossary whatsoever? Who can read it? What a waste of paper. I get so irritated! In any event, the following publishers have decided you'd prefer your white whale raw. Note that there are probably hundreds of such editions.

* The "Bantam Classic" edition. ISBN: 0-553-21311-3 Ain't got jack.

* The Signet Edition. ISBN-10: 0451532287. The bare-bones text only.

* Moby Dick, ISBN 0-8101-1991-0. The Northwestern-Newberry 150th Anniversary edition. 2 pages of a forward by Parker, but otherwise no notes on the page or at the back of the book.

* The handsome “Fall River Press” edition, found often in the B**** & N**** discount bin. ISBN: 9781435160637. A cover so handsome it’ll stop you in your tracks, but that’s it.

* The "Everyman's Library" edition. ISBN: 0-679-40559-3. Zilch.

* The "Penguin 150th Anniversary" edition. ISBN: 0-14-20.0008-6 Bupkiss! Handsome, though.

* The "Arion Press" edition. ISBN: 0-520-04354-5. Also annoyingly oversized.


Dozens of possibilities, but I’m going to recommend the Wordsworth edition, even though I can’t find it on Amazon at the moment. In addition to being cheap, it can boast the following advantages: the text shows up clean and seamless on your Kindle, without a lot of blank lines, words running together, or other ills consequent upon certain publishers scanning in public domain works. There is also a good section of explanatory notes at the end. Big problem with this edition is that the explanatory links aren’t hyperlinked to the text, meaning that, at least with current Kindle technology, you’ll have to manually re-search the text to get back to where you started from.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon May 8, 2015
This review is for the Norton Critical 150th Anniversary Edition. I've read several other versions, as this is one of my favorite books, and this edition would easily be in my Top editions to own. Despite being a paperback and filled with supplemental material, I was surprised at how compact it is. The annotations and illustrations really add to your reading enjoyment of this classic novel.
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