Five words from the blurb: whale, avenge, sailor, whaling, crew
Earlier this year I read the wonderful non-fiction book, Leviathan, which contained everything you’d ever want to know about whales. The book also contained discussions on many aspects of Moby Dick. Filled with a new enthusiasm for this classic I decided it was the perfect opportunity to dust off my copy and finally get around to reading it. That was nine months ago and I’m happy to report that I’ve finally made it to the end.
Moby Dick tells the story of Ahab, the Captain of a whaling ship, who sets out to capture the elusive white whale that bit his leg off on a previous voyage. The book mixes historical facts about whales and whaling with the fictional story of life aboard a whaling ship. For those with the time to analyse the text (or those with a study guide to hand!) this book also contains a hidden depth, packed with symbolism.
I loved this book, but have to admit that it required a lot of effort and perseverance to make it to the end. Some sections were easy to read, packed with atmosphere and totally gripping; whilst others were so slow and difficult that I struggled to read more than a couple of pages at a time. I’d like to be able to say that I found particular sections slow, but I’m afraid both the narritive and the historical sections contained moments of genius as well as long, boring sections. Perhaps it all came down to whether I was in the right mood to cope with the long-winded, descriptive sentence structure?
I think reading this very slowly was the right thing to do. Nine months was probably a bit too long, but the subtler details would be lost if you tried to read this too quickly.
Moby Dick is a wonderful story, but I think this is one of the few occasions where I’d have prefered to read the abridged edition!
Have you read Moby Dick?
Did you enjoy it?