Thursday, November 30, 2017
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
One of my reading goals this year was to read more classics. Back in the summer I read Bleak House by Dickens and enjoyed it immensely as I'm a big Dickens fan. One day while scanning my shelves, Moby Dick seemed to jump out at me and I decided to give it a try. I'd only heard negative things about it outside of English teachers who declared it a masterpiece but I decided this was the time.
What I never expected to find was how little of the book was about the epic battle between the whale and Captain Ahab. In a book of around 550 pages, only the last 50 detailed that struggle although it was foreshadowed throughout. The other thing I never expected was how much I enjoyed this novel.
If you ever wanted to know anything about whaling, this was your textbook. The author spends pages detailing the types of whales, the skeletal features of whales, what whales ate, how they swam and their family lives. He went into the same detail about the whaling industry, talking about what the sailors specifically did, what they ate, their relationships, their weapons, etc. It is one of the most detailed looks at a topic I've ever seen examined.
Then there is the epic struggle. No one who is a Type A can fail to relate to Captain Ahab. That monomaniacal determination to win against all odds and no matter what the cost is what propels society forward and what leads to epic tragedies. I didn't come away loving him, but boy did I relate to him.
Bottom line is that it was definitely a wonderful reading experience. This novel won't be for everyone but those who power through to the end will have a marvelous time. This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction, those interested in the whaling industry and those struggling with control issues.