Customer Reviews for

Moby Dick or The Whale

Average Rating 3.5
( 141 )
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5 Star

(62)

4 Star

(18)

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(21)

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(23)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

It's a ponderous chain...

It's hopeless. I'm absolutely trapped and captivated by Moby Dick. A while ago I bought a cheap copy out of deference to what I understood to be an American classic. When I was about halfway through, it hit me, and I knew I'd have to start it again as soon as I finishe...
It's hopeless. I'm absolutely trapped and captivated by Moby Dick. A while ago I bought a cheap copy out of deference to what I understood to be an American classic. When I was about halfway through, it hit me, and I knew I'd have to start it again as soon as I finished. I don't know if Melville intended it to be this way, but the book itself is a metaphor for a multi-year whaling voyage. You've got to be patient, just like a whaling crew. Melville chats about seemingly unrelated things, just like a crew would chat as it was anticipating its next whale. Wouldn't a crew become frustrated as it's waiting for something to happen? It's not a page-turner, so Tom Clancy fans beware. It's a vast, utterly expansive book that is best read while smoking your favorite pipe. Don't go back and re-read the parts that confuse you, you're going to have to read it again anyway to capture the whole thing. Once I had my Moby Dick epiphany, I began poring over all the special editions that have been produced over the years. I finally settled on this U of C, Barry Moser edition. It's perfect. Moser's illustrations are spooky, but not overbearing. None of the captions are specific to the story which still allows you to use your imagination. For instance, there's a beautiful cut of a whaler, but it's not labeled, 'The Pequod', it's just called, 'Whaling Ship.' It's a huge block of a book too, which perfectly fits the scale of the story. The only book that has had a more profound effect on me than Moby Dick is my King James Bible. Strangely, therein lies a clue to Melville's work. Why does Melville speak in parables so as to confuse some? Because it has not been given to them to understand.

posted by Anonymous on December 11, 2003

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Most Helpful Critical Review

10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

Amazing Book, TERRIBLE Copy

"Moby Dick" is a classic for a reason. It's an amazing piece of literature and every person needs to read this before our society forgets how to read prose so beautiful.

However, I highly encourage everyone to spend the $0.99 to get a good copy. This particular cop...
"Moby Dick" is a classic for a reason. It's an amazing piece of literature and every person needs to read this before our society forgets how to read prose so beautiful.

However, I highly encourage everyone to spend the $0.99 to get a good copy. This particular copy (in more than one volume... don't get excited, "Moby Dick" much longer than 345 pages) is rife with horrendous errors that make it very difficult to read. Some words have random numbers in the middle of them in place of letters, whole sections in Vol. II Look like this: Ere*&#*(^B IIQIUEIUIOJ Che whale and Ah8987(*&(*&.

This copy is absolutely horrendous.

posted by 13496408 on July 3, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2000

    A whale of a bore!

    'Call me Tomás. Some days ago -never mind how long precisely- having little or no schoolwork to do, and nothing particular to interest me on TV, I thought I would read a little and see the literary part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation.' The novel I am currently reviewing starts in quite a similar fashion as this, and while this may be the only interesting part of my review, in the same manner the start of Moby-Dick is the only part of the book that enjoys the very desirable of characteristic of not putting you to sleep. Granted. Melville writes well. The elaborate construction of his sentences and the use of figurative language are excellent. No question about that. Admitted. Moby-Dick has to be the most detailed account ever, and the situations in it are narrated quite vividly. I do not argue it. But, oh, fair reader, for crying out loud! This has to be the most dreadfully boring book ever written. Honestly, do you care THAT MUCH about whales and whaling, so as to read hundreds of pages on every single aspect of them. For, it is quite necessary to make that clear, only a small portion of Moby-Dick is a real novel, that is, a fictional narration. The rest is a bunch of essays on everything that you always wanted to know about whaling. Well written, yes, but absolutely painful! What kind of a person has the patience to endure all that! I mean, the book does start in quite an interesting fashion, but after a while... 'the length of that particular bone of a whale ranges between' 'the best way of tying the knot on such and such part of a whaling boat' 'so-and-so's picture of a whale was inaccurate because'...And he went on and on and on, forever! OK, whales are big, whales are formidable. I don't care! Get on with the story, please. How I managed to get to the end of it, I don't know. Of course, Moby-Dick has to be one of the most anti-ecological books ever written and Melville commits the huge biological blunder of considering whales to be fish, but I will not make any complaints in that sense, considering the time at which the book was written. But, seriously, I don't remember ever reading a book as boring as this one, and am quite astonished at the fact that there are people who honestly say they like it. Well, the fact that the book is so techically well written is the only reason I am not giving it just one star.

    8 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2012

    Not the best edition

    This version is full of typos and formatting errors. It's free, so it's got that in its favor.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2003

    Long and exhausting

    I realize that lovers of literature generally credit this book as the first great, American novel. Even with such credit attached to it, I found this book to be wordy and tedious. Now, it wouldn't be fair for me to criticize too much because I never finished the story. It could very well have become more interesting as one progressed further in the pages, but I could not find the energy to continue reading after more than ten pages that rambled on about the ' whiteness of the whale!' Melville overkills on description. He compares the whale to the whitest alabaster, to ivory, to bone, to snow, to ice and then on and on until you want to scream that you are fully aware that the whale is white, thank you very much!!! Whew! Anyway, I would like to add that I realize that Melville was writing in the early nineteenth century, and that many who read his book lived inland and would never see the ocean in their entire lives. I assume that is the reason for all the over-description. As for the positives, Queeqeg and Ahab are fascinating characters. Beyond that, this book rambles way too much. Save yourself a headache and rent the movie!

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2003

    As the first great American novel, it falls below expectations

    Okay, I realize that this is a very old book, and that the language of the book was written to speak to people of that time period, but it is way too lengthy and repetitive to be enjoyable. I can't critique the book any further beyond the segment entitled " The Whiteness of the Whale, " so I will just end my review by saying that after ten pages and countless analogies, I quite understood that the blooming whale was white! I had to take two headache pills just to get through what I read, which after the first few chapters wasn't much. Melville goes overboard with description, and it detracts greatly from your interest in the story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2000

    Unbearably Tedious

    It was all I could do to finish the book. I have read many American classics, and take a certain amount of pride in knowing many pieces of great literature. Unfortunately, I cannot rank this book among the greatest American books according to my own estimation. While I shun popular pulp fiction religiously, something must be said for grasping the reader's attention and holding it. The only benefit I received from reading this book was that I can say I have read it, and it is quite an accomplishment. Does anyone have a condensed version out there? I'd be happy to get my hands on it. The one positive thing about this book is that the plot (although totally overwhelmed by the science of whales) is indeed intriguing and makes a great study of human nature and themes and such. But two things totally turned me off: 1) More time is spent on whale anatomy and whaling than on the plot. The worst part of this is that these sections are completely irrelevant to the plot. 2) Melville commits a writer's travesty--he changes viewpoint. Well, he tries to keep the first person point of view, but he writes about things 'I' could not possibly have known, such as events taking place in the captain's cabin or even other people's thoughts. I was totally unimpressed by this. If a person is writing a series of articles, perhaps he could get away with this. But don't write an encyclopedia on the pretense of a novel and take liberties with certain writing rules. It's no surprise to me that the book did not do well when first published. My suspicion is that only the movie version inspired people to read and study this book. It's been a long time since I've been so tortured.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2000

    Moby Dick: Or, The Whale

    The idea and themes of Moby-Dick are good, but there is only so much that can be said about a man trying to kill a whale. If the story was much shorter and easier to understand, then it might be worth reading. One of the most important aspects of writing is to be brief, do not use 500 word to say something that can be said in 20. Melville should have listened to this rule, and many of todays high school students would be quite greatful!

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