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Herman Melville: Moby-Dick: Essays - Articles - Reviews

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The huge range of critical and academic debate about this monster of a novel confirms "Moby-Dick"'s status as a vital and exhilarating exploration of the role of American ideology in defining modern consciousness. This "Columbia Critical Guide" starts with extracts from Melville's own letters and essays and from early reviews of "Moby-Dick" that set the terms for later cri The huge range of critical and academic debate about this monster of a novel confirms "Moby-Dick"'s status as a vital and exhilarating exploration of the role of American ideology in defining modern consciousness. This "Columbia Critical Guide" starts with extracts from Melville's own letters and essays and from early reviews of "Moby-Dick" that set the terms for later critical evaluations. Subsequent chapters deal with the "Melville Revival" of the 1920s and the novel's central place in the establishment, growth, and reassessment of American Studies in the 1940s and 1950s. The final chapters examine postmodern New Americanist readings of the text, and how these provide new models for thinking about American culture.


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The huge range of critical and academic debate about this monster of a novel confirms "Moby-Dick"'s status as a vital and exhilarating exploration of the role of American ideology in defining modern consciousness. This "Columbia Critical Guide" starts with extracts from Melville's own letters and essays and from early reviews of "Moby-Dick" that set the terms for later cri The huge range of critical and academic debate about this monster of a novel confirms "Moby-Dick"'s status as a vital and exhilarating exploration of the role of American ideology in defining modern consciousness. This "Columbia Critical Guide" starts with extracts from Melville's own letters and essays and from early reviews of "Moby-Dick" that set the terms for later critical evaluations. Subsequent chapters deal with the "Melville Revival" of the 1920s and the novel's central place in the establishment, growth, and reassessment of American Studies in the 1940s and 1950s. The final chapters examine postmodern New Americanist readings of the text, and how these provide new models for thinking about American culture.

30 review for Herman Melville: Moby-Dick: Essays - Articles - Reviews

  1. 4 out of 5

    Alex Linebrink

    Simply amazing. I was forced to read the book in a period of 3 days (the only way to read it and not get bored to death) and was enthralled. Melville's exposition of the plural objective and subjective existence of truth is spot on. Simply amazing. I was forced to read the book in a period of 3 days (the only way to read it and not get bored to death) and was enthralled. Melville's exposition of the plural objective and subjective existence of truth is spot on.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rahat G

    Kind of hard to start up on it, Goes into detail A LOT, many vocab words can be learned.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Eduardo Paez

    First four of the 6 chapters are great. Once the book goes into cultural materialist readings of the text, the book is all downhill.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    I read Moby Dick twice- once in eithgh grade and once in 12th. The second time was for the reason that I struggled to understand all of the book the first time around. I had literally sat with a dictonary next to me to try to understand Melville's language. This book is by far one of the most difficult to read due to Melville veering off course as Ishmael tells how he'd write a book about whales in one of the neverending filler chapters. Mellville also unexpectedly switches from Ishmael talking I read Moby Dick twice- once in eithgh grade and once in 12th. The second time was for the reason that I struggled to understand all of the book the first time around. I had literally sat with a dictonary next to me to try to understand Melville's language. This book is by far one of the most difficult to read due to Melville veering off course as Ishmael tells how he'd write a book about whales in one of the neverending filler chapters. Mellville also unexpectedly switches from Ishmael talking to Ahab and Starbuck. Confusing? Yes. So, why bother reading it? The beginning of the book sparked my interest. Ishmael's journey through Nantucket, his meeting and beginning friendship with the cannabal, islander, Queequeg are what held my attention through the beginning of the book. There is a real humanity to the characters that isn't always captured in books. Ahab's resentment toward the whale that not only got away but took his leg with it is very real. It can be felt on the page as if one were speaking to Ahab himself. Melville's descriptions of his characters are what forced me to trudge through the almost torturous chapters about whales and what the color white symbolizes. If one is willing to take a journey through rough waters (or chapters), s/he will be pleased to find an adventure aboard the Pequoid.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    Moby-Dick of course is the tale of Ishmael the narrator, his voyage on the Nantucker whaler Pequod, and Captain Ahab's hunt for the great White Whale. Somehow I snuck through my literature classes in high school without reading this, and am just now catching up. The book highly stylized, and epic in scope, turning the whale hunt into a setpiece for ruminations on existence, fate, religion, and the nature of man. It presents short chapters that often digress and philosophize, or describe the hunt Moby-Dick of course is the tale of Ishmael the narrator, his voyage on the Nantucker whaler Pequod, and Captain Ahab's hunt for the great White Whale. Somehow I snuck through my literature classes in high school without reading this, and am just now catching up. The book highly stylized, and epic in scope, turning the whale hunt into a setpiece for ruminations on existence, fate, religion, and the nature of man. It presents short chapters that often digress and philosophize, or describe the hunt of whaling (the anatomy of sperm whales vs right whales, the manner of cutting a whale and mining its oil, the skeletons of whales, etc). These are interspersed with active scenes of the Pequod's hunt for Moby-Dick. This dispersal made me almost feel at sea on a hunt: The dry, ritualized background chapters acting as the dry, ritualized days at sea when nothing happens between whale sightings. Ahab chases the white whale, symbolic of fate, or God; anything inescapable, powerful, and mysterious. It's tragic that Ahab is given every opportunity to turn back from his suicidal chase. We the readers, as Ishmael, on the Pequod as an observer, are caught up in the tragedy, and are the only ones to be rescued by the motherly Rachel, forlornly searching the wide seas.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    I know this classic, but I could not finish this book. I do not have any idea why this would be a classic, but I found this book to jump all over the place and to be a manual on how to run a whaling ship. While I must admit it is fun to quote about the "the white whale", this book is only good for that and not much else. I am sure it is wrong to review a book that I did not finish, but I just wanted to warn you that if you are not big into whaling, this book will wear you down. Its mindlessly te I know this classic, but I could not finish this book. I do not have any idea why this would be a classic, but I found this book to jump all over the place and to be a manual on how to run a whaling ship. While I must admit it is fun to quote about the "the white whale", this book is only good for that and not much else. I am sure it is wrong to review a book that I did not finish, but I just wanted to warn you that if you are not big into whaling, this book will wear you down. Its mindlessly tedious detail mixed with a story that jumps all over the map; this book will leave you feeling abandoned by Mr. Melville.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Marie Ash-Evans

    One of the ultimate historical novels. A delicious, if long and sometimes laborious, read about whaling and whalers. A tale with psychological and supernatural overtones, Biblical references - but in the end, it is just a really good story. An old book so it doesn't read as easily or as rapidly in this era of many diversions as it would have read when it was written. If you are interested in how the whaling industry operated, the nuts and bolts right down to the chase, harpooning, getting the wh One of the ultimate historical novels. A delicious, if long and sometimes laborious, read about whaling and whalers. A tale with psychological and supernatural overtones, Biblical references - but in the end, it is just a really good story. An old book so it doesn't read as easily or as rapidly in this era of many diversions as it would have read when it was written. If you are interested in how the whaling industry operated, the nuts and bolts right down to the chase, harpooning, getting the whale to the ship, rendering the blubber, etc., this is the book for you. The language is wonderfully descriptive and evocative - I recommend it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Colin

    Moby Dick is one of those books that's always been on my "you should read this book, Colin" list. With my new ebook reader, I was given 100 free classic books so this is a great opportunity to clean up my list. I found some aspects dry - descriptions that go on forever. But, overall, the story of the captain searching the oceans of the world to seek revenge against the whale, is so compelling. The nature of his obsession makes me look at obsessions in my own life (too a much smaller extent than Moby Dick is one of those books that's always been on my "you should read this book, Colin" list. With my new ebook reader, I was given 100 free classic books so this is a great opportunity to clean up my list. I found some aspects dry - descriptions that go on forever. But, overall, the story of the captain searching the oceans of the world to seek revenge against the whale, is so compelling. The nature of his obsession makes me look at obsessions in my own life (too a much smaller extent than Ahab luckily!).

  9. 4 out of 5

    Farida Ahmed

    Moby Dick is a tale of man's primal thirst for revenge. When Ishmael boards the whale ship Pequod he is unaware of Captain Ahab's macabre hunt for his nemesis..the white whale Moby Dick. This book does not make for an easy read but after a few chapters I found myself completely immerseed. The beauty of the language, metaphors and symbolism that Melville employs often made me feel like I was aboard the ship myself! His exploration of base human nature and depth of characters are realistic to the Moby Dick is a tale of man's primal thirst for revenge. When Ishmael boards the whale ship Pequod he is unaware of Captain Ahab's macabre hunt for his nemesis..the white whale Moby Dick. This book does not make for an easy read but after a few chapters I found myself completely immerseed. The beauty of the language, metaphors and symbolism that Melville employs often made me feel like I was aboard the ship myself! His exploration of base human nature and depth of characters are realistic to the time in play. Definitely a good read!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Celeste

    Although I very much enjoy and admire Melville's writing style, I didn't not enjoy the book as a whole. Maybe I brought my preconceptions into it. I thought it was an adventure story. But except for a few chapters in the beginning and a few at the very end it isn't. It is Melville philosophizing at great, great, great, great length. If I was fascinated by whaling or ships and wanted to learn everything I could possibly learn about them, I might have enjoyed it more. But alas I do not. I just wan Although I very much enjoy and admire Melville's writing style, I didn't not enjoy the book as a whole. Maybe I brought my preconceptions into it. I thought it was an adventure story. But except for a few chapters in the beginning and a few at the very end it isn't. It is Melville philosophizing at great, great, great, great length. If I was fascinated by whaling or ships and wanted to learn everything I could possibly learn about them, I might have enjoyed it more. But alas I do not. I just wanted a good adventure with a well-paced narrative and I most certainly did not get that.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Eliza

    I found this an interesting book. I really enjoyed the journey of Herman Melville through different places and with different people. His experiences are something very different to anything I have read before which made it a story that I wanted to keep reading to learn of a different time and place. I found the pace of the novel a little tedious to begin with, but with persistance, it became most enjoyable and intriguing to read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Raghu

    I think it was a wonderful read. I enjoy reading correct depictions of how life was in the past. It is an axciting adventure story, a great history of whaling, and a very good character analysis of man and animal and their will to survive. Also there are the under-pinning of race equality in a time when slavery was still alive and well in the world.I like the way the story systematically progresses until we finally meet "Moby Dick" in thge last three chapters. Enjoy. I think it was a wonderful read. I enjoy reading correct depictions of how life was in the past. It is an axciting adventure story, a great history of whaling, and a very good character analysis of man and animal and their will to survive. Also there are the under-pinning of race equality in a time when slavery was still alive and well in the world.I like the way the story systematically progresses until we finally meet "Moby Dick" in thge last three chapters. Enjoy.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I've tried to read this three times while in high school and college. I could never finish it. Maybe I'll try it again....maybe. But, maybe not. It ranks right up there with "The Great Gatsby" --- classic books I love to hate. I've tried to read this three times while in high school and college. I could never finish it. Maybe I'll try it again....maybe. But, maybe not. It ranks right up there with "The Great Gatsby" --- classic books I love to hate.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    I am proud that I have finally finished this book. It is not an easy read. I took four months to plow through it a bit at a time. But Melville's prose is so beautiful it was a pleasure to read. The poetry and scenes he set are one of a kind. I am proud that I have finally finished this book. It is not an easy read. I took four months to plow through it a bit at a time. But Melville's prose is so beautiful it was a pleasure to read. The poetry and scenes he set are one of a kind.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I got lost. I'm not really reading it, just thinking about how maybe later I'll start reading it again. I really want to go to the annual reading of the novel that happens in New Bedford. I got lost. I'm not really reading it, just thinking about how maybe later I'll start reading it again. I really want to go to the annual reading of the novel that happens in New Bedford.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    Work. But worth the read. What an opportunity to enter a totally different world both of culture and language, to benefit from this timeless and much quoted tale.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mumtaz

    Well, it's long. Pretty good, too, though. I love Queequeg! What I learned? Some people are obsessed with whales...? Well, it's long. Pretty good, too, though. I love Queequeg! What I learned? Some people are obsessed with whales...?

  18. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    this is a very good book it's not hard to get into becouse it grabs your interest right away. My favorite part is the sermon about jonah given in the whaler church it's awesome this is a very good book it's not hard to get into becouse it grabs your interest right away. My favorite part is the sermon about jonah given in the whaler church it's awesome

  19. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    Truthfully, I only made it halfway through. It's still sitting on my shelf dog-eared at the last page I read. Truthfully, I only made it halfway through. It's still sitting on my shelf dog-eared at the last page I read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Shane

    Moby Dick gets a bad rap, but I consider it one of the best introspective books ever written--and that makes it one of the best period.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jason Perez

    I couldn't finish it when I first read it I should probably try again I couldn't finish it when I first read it I should probably try again

  22. 4 out of 5

    Vivian Ashner

    Now I can say I read it. Ecuadorean doubloon-THERE she blows

  23. 5 out of 5

    Roger

    A good book to work at. If you only read it in high school, you'll enjoy it much more as an adult. A good book to work at. If you only read it in high school, you'll enjoy it much more as an adult.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kara

    It took me 5 years to finally finish this book. I don't resonate with whaling tales apparently. It took me 5 years to finally finish this book. I don't resonate with whaling tales apparently.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Maddy Kay :)

    Yeah...um, not my favorite! lol

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jroge0202

    I liked the book but too many one page chapters that had little to do with anything.

  27. 4 out of 5

    James Henderson

    Excellent collection of serious literary criticism regarding Moby-Dick.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Amazingly bad that is. I may never forgive the person who challenged me to read this book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

    I've never seen paragraphs comprised of a single sentence in anyone else's writing! I've never seen paragraphs comprised of a single sentence in anyone else's writing!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brian Meehan

    Like trying to read a phone book. In sanskrit. With an occasional beautiful sentence.

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