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Moby-Dick or, The Whale by Herman Melville
  

Moby-Dick or, The Whale

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One of Giles Coren's favourite books.

A swashbuckling adventure story of seemingly epic proportions. The plot follows a half-crazed sea captain who seeks bitter revenge on a white whale who previously deprived him of his legs. Extraordinary details of ships, whale anatomy, and the nature of man make this novel intense and deeply fascinating. The first line of Moby Dick, ‘Call me Ishmael,’ has been described as one of the most immortal openings to any book in literary history. A must read classic.

Synopsis

Moby-Dick or, The Whale by Herman Melville

Captain Ahab is an eerily compelling madman who focuses his distilled hatred and suffering (and that of generations before him) into the pursuit of a creature as vast, dangerous and unknowable as the sea itself. More than just a novel of adventure, this is a haunting social commentary populated with some of the most enduring characters in literature. Written with wonderfully redemptive humour, Moby Dick is a profound and timeless inquiry into character, faith and the nature of perception.

Reviews

Winner of the 2012 Fifty Books/Fifty Covers show, organized by Design Observer in association with AIGA and Designers & Books Winner of the 2014 Type Directors Club Communication Design Award Praise for Penguin Drop Caps:

[Penguin Drop Caps] convey a sense of nostalgia for the tactility and aesthetic power of a physical book and for a centuries-old tradition of beautiful lettering. --Fast Company Vibrant, minimalist new typographic covers.... Bonus points for the heartening gender balance of the initial selections. --Maria Popova, Brain Pickings The Penguin Drop Caps series is a great example of the power of design. Why buy these particular classics when there are less expensive, even free editions of Great Expectations? Because they're beautiful objects. Paul Buckley and Jessica Hische's fresh approach to the literary classics reduces the design down to typography and color. Each cover is foil-stamped with a cleverly illustrated letterform that reveals an element of the story. Jane Austen's A (Pride and Prejudice) is formed by opulent peacock feathers and Charlotte Bronte's B (Jane Eyre) is surrounded by flames. The complete set forms a rainbow spectrum prettier than anything else on your bookshelf. --Rex Bonomelli, The New York Times Drool-inducing. --Flavorwire Classic reads in stunning covers--your book club will be dying. --Redbook


About the Author

Herman Melville was born Herman Melvill (the ‘e’ was added in the 1830s) on 1 August, 1819, in New York City to a wealthy importer.

The Melvilles moved to Albany after Herman’s father was bankrupted. His father died soon after and the young Herman worked variously as a farmer, bookkeeper, teacher and bank clerk. At the age of 20 he signed on as a deck hand of a trading ship, the St. Lawrence, sailing to Liverpool and back. Soon after his return he set sail for the South Pacific aboard the whaling ship Acusnet. In the Marquesas, Melville jumped ship and spent a month in the Taipi valley on the island of Nuku Hiva. Brought to Tahiti by an Australian whaler, Melville was taken ashore as a mutineer but escaped. He enlisted in the US Navy in Honolulu and sailed to Boston, where he was discharged in 1844.

Back in the US, he began to write, turning his experiences in the Pacific into several fictionalized travel books. Typee in 1846 was extremely successful.

In 1847 Melville married Elizabeth Shaw, the daughter of the Massachusetts Chief Justice. After a few years they and their family moved to Arrowhead, a farm in Pittsfield, where Melville started Moby Dick. During this time he met Nathaniel Hawthorne, who inspired him greatly.

Upon publication, Moby Dick received mixed reviews. His next novel, Pierre, fared worse. Seeking a steady income, Melville turned to magazine writing. In the late 1850s he embarked on a tour of the Holy Land, financed by his father-in-law. The trip inspired much of his future writing. Upon his return to the US Melville lectured extensively and began to write poetry almost exclusively. He failed to find a publisher for his poems and took a post as a deputy inspector of customs at New York port, a job he held for almost 20 years.

His relationship with his wife deteriorated so much in 1867 that they nearly separated. Later that year their son Malcolm died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

After his retirement Melville published two small volumes of poetry, dealing with the sea, art politics and sexuality. At his death on September 28, 1891, Melville left several uncompleted projects, including the novella Billy Budd, which remained unpublished until 1924.

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Book Info

Publication date

27th February 2003

Author

Herman Melville

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Author's Website

www.melville.org/

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Publisher

Penguin Classics an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd

Format

Paperback
720 pages

Categories

Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites

Classic fiction (pre c 1945)

ISBN

9780142437247

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