My rating: 5 of 5 stars
There are two reasons to read Herman Melville’s magnum opus Moby Dick. Read it as one of the best American novels of the nineteenth century and a complex, intertextual tale about obsession and the nature of man. Or read it to learn more about whales and nineteenth century whale ships than you ever need to know.
Moby Dick is a really complex novel with lots of subtexts. It’s one of those novels that you get more out of each time you read it. To be frank, some people are going to hate Moby Dick. The pace is slow, the prose is detailed and the subtexts too thick. It’s not for everyone. The lengthy and almost encyclopedic descriptions of everything whale and whaling related alone will torment a lot of readers!
Moby Dick is a book that’s best dissected bit by bit and savored. If you want to really get something out of this particular novel, you have to really commit some serious time to it. If not, it may be torture to get through. The first time I listened to it as an audio book bit by bit. I’m now going through it more slowly to pick up on things I missed.
The sheer detail of the prose is impressive, though it may be too much for some. Melville has quite the talent for describing lively, quirky characters and settings.
I gave Moby Dick 5 out of 5 star because it is one of the best books I’ve ever read, but with the qualification that it isn’t a novel that everyone would enjoy.