When this book was published in 1851, reading for pleasure was still a fairly new idea. There were no televisions, no movies, no mp3 players, no internet and no cell phones. If you wanted to hear music you picked up a fiddle or a guitar and played it for yourself or you talked someone into doing it for you. In 1851 books were very expensive. If you bought a book to read for pleasure there’d better be a lot in it for your Yankee dollar. Melville knew his audience and he knew he needed to add a lot of stuff to his plain sea tale to make it interesting to his readers This book was written for the average reader of the mid-19th century.
Here we are now in the early 21st century and Melville is competing with anime, Disney, Spielberg and millions of blogs. If he were publishing this book today he would have written the book for us 21st century people and wouldn’t have included a 3000 word essay on “The Whiteness of The Whale” plopped down into the middle of a great and gripping story about monumental evil and passionate revenge.
So here is Moby Dick for the 21st Century. All the long boring parts demanded by our ancestors have been deleted while preserving the story that still entertains after more than 150 years.
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