I know, I know. Moby Dick--the book that seems to be as big and scary as a whale! The one that, if you are like me, we were supposed to have read for our American Literature class. (But we never seemed to have actually got through... for a host of no doubt good reasons.) Nevertheless, like so many other classics that I have returned to in my adult life (when I was not under the gun of a deadline, or paper, or exam), this book did finally grab ahold of and keep my attention--all through that dark, wet, and chilly Seattle Autumn when I committed to the journey. (Autumn is, by the way, a perfect time to read this book.) Epic in scope and drenched in atomosphere, the novel takes some time to ground us in its larger-than-life setting and subject (Hawthorne's language, style, and attention to detail take some getting used to for modern readers: it may seem almost encyclopedic and overmuch at times. For example, there is an entire chapter on Chowder! Yet this is also its glory. For Melville is, in building this story, building a ship, a life on a ship, a life at sea, and it all culminates in an ultimate journey. I loved it! (In spite of Woody Allen's funny / snarky comment in Zellig about no one ever finishing Moby Dick). Go back. Read it. You'll be hooked. (Literally.)— From James
Introduction by Elizabeth Hardwick
Illustrations by Rockwell Kent
Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read
First published in 1851, Herman Melville’s masterpiece is, in Elizabeth Hardwick’s words, “the greatest novel in American literature.” The saga of Captain Ahab and his monomaniacal pursuit of the white whale remains a peerless adventure story but one full of mythic grandeur, poetic majesty, and symbolic power. Filtered through the consciousness of the novel’s narrator, Ishmael, Moby-Dick draws us into a universe full of fascinating characters and stories, from the noble cannibal Queequeg to the natural history of whales, while reaching existential depths that excite debate and contemplation to this day.