“Call me Ishmael.” So begins one of the greatest (and longest) of classics the world has known. Written by Herman Melville, the book was first published in London during October of 1851. Peopled by characters both diverse and deep, Moby Dick unearths the story of compulsion and the pressing need for personal revenge.
While some stories pit humans as the “bad guy”, in this book, there’s only room for one villain, at least in the mad eyes of Captain Ahab… And that villain is Moby Dick, the great white whale.
Popular in more condensed forms (like Cliff Notes and movies); Moby Dick is actually quite a rewarding read – at least if you manage your time. While you’re unlikely to read this one all in one sitting, if you give yourself time and love a good story about obsession, you may make it all of the way through to the end.
The entire tale is told from the point of view of the deck of the Pequod, a whaler that Ishmael and his “savage” friend Queequeg embark upon despite bad omens and the absence of a captain. From there on out, the conflicts the narrator face go from bad to worse. Eventually, there’s only one person left to tell the tale…
Major Characters: Ishmael, Ahab, Moby Dick, Starbuck, Queequeg, Stubb, Tashtego, Flask, Dagoo.
Themes: Obsession, Revenge, the Trickiness of Fate, Knowledge Can Only Go So Far
Read the entire book here, free online.