Moby-dick: Or, The Whale

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Moby-dick: Or, The Whale

by Herman Melville
Introduction by Elizabeth Hardwick, Rockwell Kent

Random House Publishing Group | October 10, 2000 | Trade Paperback

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Introduction by Elizabeth Hardwick
Illustrations by Rockwell Kent

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.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 896 pages, 8 × 5.17 × 1.54 in

Published: October 10, 2000

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 067978327x

ISBN - 13: 9780679783275

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– More About This Product –

Moby-dick: Or, The Whale

by Herman Melville
Introduction by Elizabeth Hardwick, Rockwell Kent

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 896 pages, 8 × 5.17 × 1.54 in

Published: October 10, 2000

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 067978327x

ISBN - 13: 9780679783275

About the Book

First published in 1851, 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.
This Modern Library Paperback Classics edition contains original illustrations by Rockwell Kent and commentary that includes excerpts from one of Melville's letters to Hawthorne.

Read from the Book

Call me Ishmael. This resonant opening of Moby-Dick, the greatest novel in American literature, announces the narrator, Herman Melville, as he with a measure of slyness thought of himself. In the Scriptures Ishmael, a wild man sired by the overwhelming patriarch Abraham, was nevertheless the bastard son of a serving girl Hagar. The author himself was the offspring of two distinguished American families, the Melvilles of Boston and the Gansevoorts of Albany. Melville''s father cast something of a blight on the family escutcheon by his tendency to bankruptcy which passed down to his son. Dollars damn me, the son was to say over and over. When he sat down in the green landscape of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, to compose Moby-Dick he was in debt, the father of one son, and another to be born a few days after the publication of the novel in England. Melville had published five novels previous to Moby-Dick; the first two did well, and then with the capriciousness of the public the subsequent novels failed to please. He was a known literary figure with a fading reputation. How he came upon the courage to undertake the challenging creation of the epical battle between a sea creature, a white whale called Moby Dick, and an old captain from Nantucket by the name of Ahab is one of literature''s triumphant mysteries. Add to that, as one reads, that he was only thirty-two years old. Ten years before, in 1841, he had signed up as a common seaman on the whaling vessel Acushnet bound for the S
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From the Publisher

Introduction by Elizabeth Hardwick
Illustrations by Rockwell Kent

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.

From the Jacket

First published in 1851, 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.
This Modern Library Paperback Classics edition contains original illustrations by Rockwell Kent and commentary that includes excerpts from one of Melville''s letters to Hawthorne.

About the Author

Elizabeth Hardwick (1916-2007) is the author of many books and essays, including Herman Melville (Penguin Lives), American Fictions, and Seduction and Betrayal: Women and Literature.

Editorial Reviews

"Responsive to the shaping forces of his age as only men of passionate imagination are, even Melville can hardly have been fully aware of how symbolical an American hero he had fashioned in Ahab."
--F. O. Matthiessen

Bookclub Guide

1. What is the significance of the whale? What do you think Melville intends in developing such a vicious antagonism between Ahab and the whale?

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?

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