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Moby Dick Or The Whale
Call me Ishmael. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.
There now is your insular city of the Manhattoes, belted round by wharves as Indian isles by coral reefs—commerce surrounds it with her surf. Right and left, the streets take you waterward. Its extreme down-town is the battery, where that noble mole is washed by waves, and cooled by breezes, which a few hours previous were out of sight of land. Look at the crowds of water-gazers there.
Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath afternoon. Go from Corlears Hook to Coenties Slip, and from thence, by Whitehall, northward. What do you see?—Posted like silent sentinels all around the town, stand thousands upon thousands of mortal men fixed in ocean reveries. Some leaning against the spiles; some seated upon the pier-heads; some looking over the bulwarks of ships from China; some high aloft in the rigging, as if striving to get a still better seaward peep. But these are all landsmen; of week days pent up in lath and plaster—tied to counters, nailed to benches, clinched to desks. How then is this? Are the green fields gone? What do they here?
But look! here come more crowds, pacing straight for the water, and seemingly bound for a dive. Strange! Nothing will content them but the extremest limit of the land; loitering under the shady lee of yonder warehouses will not suffice. No. They must get just as nigh the water as they possibly can without falling in. And there they stand—miles of them—leagues. Inlanders all, they come from lanes and alleys, streets and avenues—north, east, south, and west. Yet here they all unite. Tell me, does the magnetic virtue of the needles of the compasses of all those ships attract them thither?
Once more. Say, you are in the country; in some high land of lakes. Take almost any path you please, and ten to one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves you there by a pool in the stream. There is magic in it. Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries—stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be in all that region. Should you ever be athirst in the great American desert,try this experiment, if your caravan happen to be supplied with a metaphysical professor. Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever.
But here is an artist. He desires to paint you the dreamiest, shadiest, quietest, most enchanting bit of romantic landscape in all the valley of the Saco. What is the chief element he employs? There stand his trees, each with a hollow trunk, as if a hermit and a crucifix were within; and here sleeps his meadow, and there sleep his cattle; and up from yonder cottage goes a sleepy smoke. Deep into distant woodlands winds a mazy way, reaching to overlapping spurs of mountains bathed in their hill-side blue. But though the picture lies thus tranced, and though this pine-tree shakes down its sighs like leaves upon this shepherd's head, yet all were vain, unless the shepherd's eye were fixed upon the magic stream before him. Go visit the Prairies in June, when for scores on scores of miles you wade knee-deep among Tiger-lilies—what is the one charm wanting?—Water—there is not a drop of water there! Were Niagara but a cataract of sand, would you travel your thousand miles to see it? Why did the poor poet of Tennessee, upon suddenly receiving two handfuls of silver, deliberate whether to buy him a coat, which he sadly needed, or invest his money in a pedestrian trip to Rockaway Beach? Why is almost every robust healthy boy with a robust healthy soul in him, at some time or other crazy to go to sea? Why upon your first voyage as a passenger, did you yourself feel such a mystical vibration, when first told that you and your ship were now out of sight of land? Why did the old Persians hold the sea holy? Why did the Greeks give it a separate deity, and own brother of Jove? Surely all this is not without meaning. And still deeper the meaning of that story of Narcissus, who because he could not grasp the tormenting, mild image he saw in the fountain, plunged into it and was drowned. But that same image, we ourselves see in all rivers and oceans. It is the image of the ungraspable phantom of life; and this is the key to it all.
Now, when I say that I am in the habit of going to seawhenever I begin to grow hazy about the eyes, and begin to be over conscious of my lungs, I do not mean to have it inferred that I ever go to sea as a passenger. For to go as a passenger you must needs have a purse, and a purse is but a rag unless you have something in it. Besides, passengers get sea-sick—grow quarrelsome—don't sleep of nights—do not enjoy themselves much, as a general thing;—no, I never go as a passenger; nor, though I am something of a salt, do I ever go to sea as a Commodore, or a Captain, or a Cook. I abandon the glory and distinction of such offices to those who like them. For my part, I abominate all honorable respectable toils, trials, and tribulations of every kind whatsoever. It is quite as much as I can do to take care of myself, without taking care of ships, barques, brigs, schooners, and what not. And as for going as cook,—though I confess there is considerable glory in that, a cook being a sort of officer on ship-board—yet, somehow, I never fancied broiling fowls;—though once broiled, judiciously buttered, and judg-matically salted and peppered, there is no one who will speak more respectfully, not to say reverentially, of a broiled fowl than I will. It is out of the idolatrous dotings of the old Egyptians upon broiled ibis and roasted river horse, that you see the mummies of those creatures in their huge bake-houses the pyramids.
No, when I go to sea, I go as a simple sailor, right before the mast, plumb down into the forecastle, aloft there to the royal mast-head. True, they rather order me about some, and make me jump from spar to spar, like a grasshopper in a May meadow. And at first, this sort of thing is unpleasant enough. It touches one's sense of honor, particularly if you come of an old established family in the land, the Van Rensselaers, or Randolphs, or Hardicanutes. And more than all, if just previous to putting your hand into the tar-pot, you have been lording it as a country schoolmaster, making the tallest boys stand in awe of you. The transition is a keen one, I assure you, from a schoolmaster to a sailor, and requires a strong decoction of Seneca and the Stoics to enable you to grin and bear it. But even this wears off in time.
What of it, if some old hunks of a sea-captain orders me to get a broom and sweep down the decks? What does that indignity amount to, weighed, I mean, in the scales of the New Testament? Do you think the archangel Gabriel thinks anything the less of me, because I promptly and respectfully obey that old hunks in that particular instance? Who aint a slave? Tell me that. Well, then, however the old sea-captains may order me about—however they may thump and punch me about, I have the satisfaction of knowing that it is all right; that everybody else is one way or other served in much the same way—either in a physical or metaphysical point of view, that is; and so the universal thump is passed round, and all hands should rub each other's shoulder-blades, and be content.
Again, I always go to sea as a sailor, because they make a point of paying me for my trouble, whereas they never pay passengers a single penny that I ever heard of. On the contrary, passengers themselves must pay. And there is all the difference in the world between paying and being paid. The act of paying is perhaps the most uncomfortable infliction that the two orchard thieves entailed upon us. But being paid,—what will compare with it? The urbane activity with which a man receives money is really marvellous, considering that we so earnestly believe money to be the root of all earthly ills, and that on no account can a monied man enter heaven. Ah! how cheerfully we consign ourselves to perdition!
Finally, I always go to sea as a sailor, because of the wholesome exercise and pure air of the forecastle deck. For as in this world, head winds are far more prevalent than winds from astern (that is, if you never violate the Pythagorean maxim), so for the most part the Commodore on the quarter-deck gets his atmosphere at second hand from the sailors on the forecastle. He thinks he breathes it first; but not so. In much the same way do the commonalty lead their leaders in many other things, at the same time that the leaders little suspect it. But wherefore it was that after having repeatedly smelt the sea as a merchant sailor, I should nowtake it into my head to go on a whaling voyage; this the invisible police officer of the Fates, who has the constant surveillance of me, and secretly dogs me, and influences me in some unaccountable way—he can better answer than any one else. And, doubtless, my going on this whaling voyage, formed part of the grand programme of Providence that was drawn up a long time ago. It came in as a sort of brief interlude and solo between more extensive performances. I take it that this part of the bill must have run something like this:
"Grand Contested Election for the Presidency of the United States
"WHALING VOYAGE BY ONE ISHMEAL
"BLOODY BATTLE IN AFFGHANISTAN"
Though I cannot tell why it was exactly that those stage managers, the Fates, put me down for this shabby part of a whaling voyage, when others were set down for magnificent parts in high tragedies, and short and easy parts in genteel comedies, and jolly parts in farces—though I cannot tell why this was exactly; yet, now that I recall all the circumstances, I think I can see a little into the springs and motives which being cunningly presented to me under various disguises, induced me to set about performing the part I did, besides cajoling me into the delusion that it was a choice resulting from my own unbiased freewill and discriminating judgment.
Chief among these motives was the overwhelming idea of the great whale himself. Such a portentous and mysterious monster roused all my curiosity. Then the wild and distant seas where he rolled his island bulk; the undeliverable, nameless perils of the whale; these, with all the attending marvels of a thousand Patagonian sights and sounds, helped to sway me to my wish. With other men, perhaps, such things would not have been inducements; but as for me, Iam tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas and land on barbarous coasts. Not ignoring what is good, I am quick to perceive a horror, and could still be social with it—would they let me—since it is but well to be on friendly terms with all the inmates of the place one lodges in.
By reason of these things, then, the whaling voyage was welcome; the great flood-gates of the wonder-world swung open, and in the wild conceits that swayed me to my purpose, two and two there floated into my inmost soul, endless processions of the whale, and, mid most of them all, one grand hooded phantom, like a snow hill in the air.
All new material copyright © 1996 by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
Chapter 1. Loomings
Chapter 2. The Carpet Bag
Chapter 3. The Spouter-Inn
Chapter 4. The Counterpane
Chapter 5. Breakfast
Chapter 6. The Street
Chapter 7. The Chapel
Chapter 8. The Pulpit
Chapter 9. The Sermon
Chapter 10. A Bosom Friend
Chapter 11. Nightgown
Chapter 12. Biographical
Chapter 13. Wheelbarrow
Chapter 14. Nantucket
Chapter 15. Chowder
Chapter 16. The Ship
Chapter 17. The Ramadan
Chapter 18. His Mark
Chapter 19. The Prophet
Chapter 20. All Astir
Chapter 21. Going Abroad
Chapter 22. Merry Christmas
Chapter 23. The Lee SHore
Chapter 24. The Advocate
Chapter 25. Postscript
Chapter 26. Knights and Squires
Chapter 27. Knights and Squires
Chapter 28. Ahab
Chapter 29. Enter Ahab; to him, Stubb
Chapter 30. The Pipe
Chapter 31. Queen Mab
Chapter 32. Cetology
Chapter 33. The Specksynder
Chapter 34. The Cabin Table
Chapter 35. The Mast-Head
Chapter 36. The Quarter-Deck. Ahab and all
Chapter 37. Sunset
Chapter 38. Dusk
Chapter 39. First Night-Watch
Chapter 40. Forecastle—Midnight
Chapter 41. Moby Dick
Chapter 42. The Whiteness of the Whale
Chapter 43. Hark!
Chapter 44. The Chart
Chapter 45. The Affidavit
Chapter 46. Surmises
Chapter 47. The Mat-Maker
Chapter 48. The First Lowering
Chapter 49. The Hyena
Chapter 50. Ahab's Boat and Crew—Fedallah
Chapter 51. The Spirit-Spout
Chapter 52. The Pequod meets the Albatross
Chapter 53. The Gam
Chapter 54. The Town Ho's Story
Chapter 55. Monstrous Pictures of Whales
Chapter 56. Less Erroneous Pictures of Whales
Chapter 57. Of Whales in Paint, in teeth, &c.
Chapter 58. Brit
Chapter 59. Squid
Chapter 60. The Line
Chapter 61. Stubb kills a Whale
Chapter 62. The Dart
Chapter 63. The Crotch
Chapter 64. Stubb's Supper
Chapter 65. The Whale as a Dish
Chapter 66. The Shark Massacre
Chapter 67. Cutting In
Chapter 68. The Blanket
Chapter 69. The Funeral
Chapter 70. The Sphynx
Chapter 71. The Pequod meets the Jeroboam. Her Story
Chapter 72. The Monkey-rope
Chapter 73. Stubb & Flask kill a Right Whale
Chapter 74. The Sperm Whale's Head
Chapter 75. The Right Whale's Head
Chapter 76. The Battering Ram
Chapter 77. The Great Heidelburgh Tun
Chapter 78. Cistern and Buckets
Chapter 79. the Prairie
Chapter 80. The Nut
Chapter 81. The Pequod meets the Virgin
Chapter 82. The Honor and Glory of Whaling
Chapter 83. Jonah Historically Regarded
Chapter 84. Pitchpoling
Chapter 85. The Fountain
Chapter 86. The Tail
Chapter 87. The Grand Armada
Chapter 88. Schools & Schoolmasters
Chapter 89. Fast Fish and Loose Fish
Chapter 90. Heads or Tails
Chapter 91. The Pequod meets the Rose Bud
Chapter 92. Ambergris
Chapter 93. The Castaway
Chapter 94. A Squeeze of the Hand
Chapter 95. The Cassock
Chapter 96. The Try-Works
Chapter 97. The Lamp
Chapter 98. Stowing Down & Clearing Up
Chapter 99. The Doubloon
Chapter 100. The Pequod meets the Samuel Enderby of London
Chapter 101. The Decanter
Chapter 102. A Bower in the Arsacides
Chapter 103. Measurement of the Whale's Skeleton
Chapter 104. The Fossil Whale
Chapter 105. Does the Whale Diminish?
Chapter 106. Ahab's Leg
Chapter 107. The Carpenter
Chapter 108. The Deck. Ahab and the Carpenter
Chapter 109. The Cabin. Ahab and Starbuch
Chapter 110. Queequeg in his Coffin
Chapter 111. The Pacific
Chapter 112. The Blacksmith
Chapter 113. The Forge
Chapter 114. The Gilder
Chapter 115. The Pequod meets the Bachelor
Chapter 116. The Dying Whale
Chapter 117. The Whale-Watch
Chapter 118. The Quadrant
Chapter 119. the Candles
Chapter 120. The Deck
Chapter 121. Midnight, on the Forecastle
Chapter 122. Midnight, Aloft
Chapter 123. The Musket
Chapter 124. The Needle
Chapter 125. The Log and Line
Chapter 126. The Life-Buoy
Chapter 127. Ahab and the Carpenter
Chapter 128. The Pequod meets the Rachel
Chapter 129. The Cabin. Ahab and Pip
Chapter 130. The Hat
Chapter 131. The Pequod meets the Delight
Chapter 132. The Symphony
Chapter 133. The Chase. First Day
Chapter 134. The Chase. Second Day
Chapter 135. The Chase. Third Day
Note on the Text
Discussions of Adopted Readings
List of Emendations
Report of Line-End Hyphenation
List fo Substantive Variants
Melville's Notes (1849-51) in a Shakespeare Volume
Melville's Notes in Chase's Narrative of the Essex
Melville's Acshnet Crew Memorandum
The Hubbard Copy of The Whale
The Jones Copy of Moby-Dick and the Harper Whale Title Page
2. How does the presence of Queequeg, particularly his status as a "savage," inform the novel? How does Melville depict this cultural clash?
3. How does whaling as an industry function metaphorically throughout the novel? Where does man fit in in this scenario?
4. Melville explores the divide between evil and virtue, justice and vengeance throughout the novel. What, ultimately, is his conclusion? What is Ahab's?
5. What do you think of the role, if any, played by religion in the novel? Do you think religious conventions are replaced or subverted in some way? Discuss.
6. Discuss the novel's philosophical subtext. How does this contribute to the basic plot involving Ahab's search for the whale? Is this Ishmael's purpose in the novel?
7. Discuss the role of women in the novel. What does their conspicuous absence mean in the overall context of the novel?
Posted July 3, 2012
"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.
11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 11, 2003
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.
6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 25, 2010
Posted August 12, 2012
Posted June 24, 2012
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Posted December 24, 2002
I have nothing against Herman Melville. I have nothing against Ishmael. I have nothing against the Pequod, or Ahab, or Moby Dick himself. But I do have a lot against the endless facts about whales that occupy a huge majority of this book. It's just one thing after another. Only about one-third of the book is the story. The rest is a practical encyclopedia about whales and their habits. He should have written "Whales for People Who Like Endless Facts about Them" or something else of that nature, so that poor little school children could just read a good story without unnecessary details riddling the plot line. No doubt, this book is a classic: I'm the last person to say otherwise. But "classic" doesn't always mean "interesting". The positive characteristics of this book are undeniable. I just had a hard time getting through it. A VERY hard time.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 12, 2004
Posted November 10, 2003
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 9, 2014
Posted December 3, 2013
Posted November 15, 2013
Book is fantastic but this copy is not only just the last 266 pages of a 550ish page book, but also has numerous spelling/copy errors much like the following made-up but very accurate example: "I walked inKb/2%to the rghGb74%&&oom." Terrible.
Buy this book if that's what it takes to get a good copy. In my opinion it is worth it.
Posted October 15, 2013
Posted September 11, 2012
Posted June 20, 2012
Posted March 10, 2012
Posted December 26, 2010
Posted September 27, 2004
Visiting the melville home in mass...put it all in perspective for me...not necessary for first time readers. Sat at his desk, and looked at Mt. MANSFIELD.Perhaps it was the inspiration for this great work. Amazing on so many levels.If nothing else, the rich and highly evolved vocabulary is awesome and inspiring. DON'T watch the MOVIE before you read the work...least your brain be fried, and your heart be stopped...Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 5, 2003
Aye, Moby Dick is a well spun yarn, told by a sailor with a keen intuition and an eye for detail. Melville writes like a poet and sets sail a story larger than the sea. The whales are made magnificent through his lyrical descriptions and massive researches into their physical anatomy. The characters are in a way so flawlessly constructed that at the end of the novel we remember them all. We can also recount their physical traits and emotional tendencies. There is Queequeg, a tattooed savage who is a universal symbol of discrimination. We believe at first that this man painted in frightening colors with a physique strong enough to crush bones can only cause evil, until we see the inner makings of his heart, and discover the innocence which makes him a better man than the others. Told in first person, the story recounts the experiences of a sailor who has decided to enter into the whaling business after dull service as a hand on a merchant vessel. He befriends Queequeg, a veteran whaler, and gives him first choice of a ship for embarkation on the narrator¿s first voyage in hunt of leviathan. They make the terrible decision in signing on as hands aboard the Pequod and become victims under the whims of a monomaniacal commander, Captain Ahab, who uses them as instruments in his fervid hunt of a white Sperm Whale coined with the name of Moby Dick. The realistic dialogue is marked with flamboyant epitaphs and through the way the characters speak and act, we see them lift from the pages and become real people. The story is always exciting and never holds a dull moment. Although Melville¿s style is difficult to read at first, after a hundred pages his words begin to flow smooth as silk as the mind softens to his dialect and we soon discover the masterpiece in his work. Regarded as the greatest sea novel ever written, the story throws the reader into the boat, makes them row closer and closer towards the climax. When we come in sight of the white whale, we take firm grip on the oars and start paddling with reckless abandon until the prow slams into Moby Dick¿s massive jaws. Be prepared for the last one hundred pages, for it will knock you into the water with its awesome suspense. Recommended: Entire unabridged text that include three of his other novels in the Library of America EditionWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 21, 2002
The other day I saw a documentary about how Moby Dick was based on true story of whalers who's ship was sunk by a whale. The book was changed and made into fiction however. Melvill is a fabulous writer.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.