Synopsis: A wandering sailor,Ishmael decides to embark on the whaleship Pequod in his quest to live exciting adventures at sea.However he soon realises that the commander Ahab has only one purpose on this voyage: to seek out Moby Dick,the most terrifying whale dwelling in the ocean’s depths,the very same whale that bit his limb off on their previous encounter.
What you will like in ‘Moby Dick’:
1.The literary depth!
As you may have guessed,‘Moby Dick’ wouldn’t have been a timeless masterpiece, had it been only about a voyage turned bad.Instead,it is filled with very powerful passages and subliminal messages that will leave you in awe.It is surprising how Herman Melville is capable of finding so many similarities between the earthly life and the marine one.Indeed,he uses a myriad of marine imageries when alluding to facts in life! Kudos to him! Despite reading other numerous classics, I have yet to find an author who uses a similar style! (this tells you how much complicated a technique it is!)
2. The discovery of another world!
As a result of the stereotypes often seen in cartoons and movies,we think we know everything about the lives of sailors,but we are totally mistaken.Their world is very complex,and you’ll be baffled by how much you will have learned by the end of the book.Additionally, the fact that technical terms are assigned to almost everything somehow reminds me of the Harry Potter saga. For instance,when two whaleships come across each other,the meeting is called a ‘gam’.In this respect, ‘Moby Dick’ takes you on a journey that you’ll be unable to forget.
The humour in the book contributes a lot to making it a joy to read.For instance,the stark contrast between Ahab’s gloominess and the good-heartedness of the captains he meets on his journey often results in some very comical situations.There are other funny passages too whereby one can’t help but smile.The captains all have a peculiar characteristic that is often brought in the limelight even when they are chasing whales.Reading ‘Moby Dick’ won’t leave you stoic.
As I said earlier,‘Moby Dick’ is filled with powerful yet shrouded messages.It is up to you to decipher the innuendos pertaining to the various events in the book.What is the symbol of the White Whale?What is Ahab a representation of?Why do certain ships hold particular names? After finding answers to such questions, you’ll understand why this book is one the greatest of all time.Besides,I also find it exciting when a book keeps the reader’s mind ticking.
What you might not like in ‘Moby Dick’ :
1.The dreaded digressions!
‘Moby Dick’ is known as much for being one of the best novels of all time as for being the book consisting of perhaps the lengthiest digressions in all literature. The reason for which I’m referring to ‘digression’ in plural is simply because at various points in the book,the storyline will be abruptly paused in order for Ishmael to give you an insight about cetology.At first,it can be interesting to know about whales,but as the story progresses,it eventually becomes boring. Let’s see,I’ve now opened my book at some random page to give you an idea of how lengthy the digression can be.Chapter 73 deals with the storyline,and you wish to know what happens next.However,to do so,you will have to go through chapters 74,75,76,77,which have nothing to do with the storyline!Such is the kind of digression you ought to expect before reading the book! I know some people who have simply skipped these chapters,but out of principle,I didn’t and had to constantly bear with these digressions during my reading experience.
2. The mammoth size!
‘Moby Dick’ is strikingly huge.The cheap Penguin paperback version is comprised of 536 pages for 135 chapters!
3. The confusing dialogue structure.
For all his genius, Melville didn’t really master the art of creating clear dialogues.At times,it can be really difficult to know who is saying what.In this sense,the dialogue structure is a far cry from that of other books,e.g ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’or ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’.
Verdict: Although I can’t call it one of the best book I’ve ever read because of its digressions,I can easily figure why ‘Moby Dick’ is a masterpiece.There are some very powerful morals underlying the storyline,and Melville’s trademark style,which is to construe facts of life in marine terms,has yet to be matched to this day.In fact,this is the book that drove me to write reviews about books,for very often,people get carried away by the eminence of classics and so,refuse to point out their flaws(if there is any).But all in all,‘Moby Dick’ is a very good book that you ought to read.However,just make sure you’re ready to read it completely!
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