The very first book review I wrote was for Moby dick by Herman Melville. Amazingly people on amazon UK have liked my review too! It’s a tough book to read and many people give up half way through reading this but I’m glad I stuck it out. This review is for the Wordsworth Cassics version:
Moby Dick is a tough read it’s true. It starts off fine enough, reading very much like a regular novel, but once aboard the ship certain chapters start veering off-story and end up reading more like an encyclopaedia of whales and whaling. The story itself though is a good one and is actually both funny and gripping. There are some very funny moments, right in the first chapters I found myself laughing at the actions of some characters, and further into the story it is gripping. For those that don’t know the basic story of Moby Dick is told from Ishmael’s point of view as he joins a crew on the ship to go whaling. Along the way we learn of the captain’s obsession to catch the white whale, Moby Dick.
I won’t go into too much detail as not to spoil it but this classic is still worth the read if you can last through the more factual chapters. These chapters can be boring to read for those more interested in a good story but you actually do end up learning a lot about the different whales and how the whole whaling worked in the past. However you do at times feel like wondering if the factual bits will ever end. The book can actually be a little squeamish for devout animal lovers as there’s quite detailed explanations of removing the blubber from whales but of course this book IS about whaling.
The ending of the story actually kept me engrossed I just had to finish the last chapter. I was surprised how much I wanted to read the end, after a few very long factual chapters the pace of the story really picked up towards the end and I was glad to get through this book, the ending for me does not disappoint.
Because this is a wordsworth classic there are plenty of extras, the best part of this book as that certain words or terms that don’t exist or are confusing today are numbered throughout the book. You can turn to the back of the book where there is an index of these numbers and a brief explanation of the word or term. I found this invaluable in my reading and it really does help in all the classics to have this index.
The wordsworth classic also holds plenty of notes at the front, if you want to take a more literary look at the book (much as you would at school), but don’t read this section first as it can give away certain things.
I’d recommend this book to anyone really interested in reading the classics as I am. There is no profanity and no sex, but will tax the less inclined reader. It’s not an easy book to get through, and at times you can glaze over all the factual information, but for those that can stick it out please do try. Unfortunately one or two chapters do move the focus from Ismael’s point of view to suddenly everyone’s…reading more like a script for a film, but if you can deal with this change (it only happens once) then it’s still worth reading
I’m rating it a 3 as despite the gripping story, I still find it tough to read through, and I have other books I do prefer, but for the story part I do give it a 5.
This book is funny, gripping and factual all at the same time and you will need to read it again to appreciate it some more. But for anyone interested in the classics I’d certainly recommend this one, just be prepared for the non-fiction parts which do take away some of the excitement.
Moby Dick is the story of Captain Ahab’s quest to avenge the whale that ‘reaped’ his leg. The quest is an obsession and the novel is a diabolical study of how a man becomes a fanatic. But it is also a hymn to democracy. Bent as the crew is on Ahab’s appalling crusade, it is equally the image of a co-operative community at work: all hands dependent on all hands, each individual responsible for the security of each.
Among the crew is Ishmael, the novel’s narrator, ordinary sailor, and extraordinary reader. Digressive, allusive, vulgar, transcendent, the story Ishmael tells is above all an education: in the practice of whaling, in the art of writing