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Reviewing the Classic Novels- Moby Dick

Updated on May 14, 2013
This picture courtesy the artist, Steve Crawford
This picture courtesy the artist, Steve Crawford

Moby Dick

Moby Dick - 1956 -Part1.avi

Nantucket Island

About the Book

Moby Dick

On a day in the mid 1800’s, the whaling vessel Pequod set sail around Nantucket Island in search of the sperm whale. Running the ship was Captain Ahab, whose previous encounter with a white whale named Moby Dick cost him his leg and left him with a permanent bite mark across his face. Sailing with him one of the most colorful groups of sailors ever imagined.

Their intention was to seek their fortune on the long voyage across the high seas. Whale oil was one of the most valuable commodities of their time and could potentially bring a great deal of money to all on board. What no one but the captain realized was that this voyage was not about hunting whales. It’s about fear. It was about obsession. It was about a desire for revenge so powerful that the captain was totally consumed by it.

This book was one of the earliest popular novels ever written. It’s an in-depth tale of what it was like to go to sea on a whaling vessel. You get a real sense of how the sailors lived and worked while out on the ocean on a voyage that might last as long as two years.

Long before whale conservation became an issue, whales were hunted for their blubber. This had a variety of uses. It lit the lamps of the nineteenth century. It was used to make soap and perfume. Some people valued the whale meat as a delicacy for their table. Even the ivory that came from the teeth of some types of whales was considered valuable.

The novel describes the hunting and harvesting of the “great leviathans.” It offers a clear picture of the dangers and the drama involved in the process.

In the end, Ahab comes face to face with Moby Dick, but I won’t give away the ending. If you want to know how it turns out, you have to read it.

Be aware, though, that this is a very old novel. It was written and published in 1851, and the language is quite different than what you’re used to reading. It may be a bit difficult to wade through. If you have the patience to complete it, you will be glad you did. If not, both Gregory Peck and Patrick Stewart made a great Captain Ahab in the movie version.

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Side Note About Whale Hunting

Moby Dick is a novel about whale hunting. I realize that we are at the point where whale hunting is taboo, and that this is for the sake of the preservation of the whales.

This hub is not published for the promotion of such activities, and it doesn't mean that I am not sympathetic to the plight of these beautiful creatures.

This novel was written in the mid-nineteenth century, which was before our awareness of the delicacy of the cycle of life began. It was considered a legitimate enterprise, just as raising cattle or sheep for consumption is considered a legitimate enterprise by most people. So, while I don't condone whale hunting, It is still my opinion that this is a wonderful novel and a historically remarkable piece of literature that deserves to be read.

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