Moby Dick (Herman Melville)

Moby Dick is a novel by Herman Melville.

Ishmael is a young man in search of adventure. So he decides to go to sea for a bit. By chance he meets the savage Queequeg, a harpoonist, and together they get hired on the Pequod, a whaling ship under the command of Captain Ahab. Ahab is searching for a particular white whale – Moby Dick, a hunt that has become his life-defining obsession.

Moby Dick starts out absolutely great. But as soon as Ishmael gets on that ship, things fall apart and I was pretty much bored out of my mind.

Herman Melville knows how to string together a sentence. Seriously, the book’s language is beautiful. There are moments like this:

It was while gliding through these latter waters that one serene and moonlight night, when all the waves rolled by like scrolls of silver; and, by their soft, suffusing seethings, made what seemed a silvery silence, not a solitude: on such a silent night a silvery jet was seen far in advance of the white bubbles at the bow.

where the rhythm alone is absolutely transfixing.

And that language was also what kept on tiding me over for quite a while. But in the end, no amount of beautiful language can make up for the utter lack of tension that is only interrupted by even more boring lectures on whales and whale physiology and whale everything that is presented as the ultimate knowledge and partly very wrong.

Though as I said, it started off very well. I enjoyed how Ishmael met Queequeg, even though you have to constantly keep in mind that notions of race were really different 150 years ago and that actually Melville was quite progressive and tolerant for his time.

But unfortunately that is only the shortest part of the book. And the rest was dull drudgery. Reading it was like walking through molasses and I only kept at it because sometimes I can be one stubborn fucker.

Summarising: I don’t see the greatness of this book.

3 thoughts on “Moby Dick (Herman Melville)

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