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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Moby Dick

Along with War and Peace, Herman Melville's Moby Dick has always been what springs to mind when I think of "great books".  I put that in quotes because that was my perception of what literary critics believed, I didn't personally have a view on either of them until recently.  When I read War and Peace I was very surprised to enjoy it very much.  It remains my favorite book.  Moby Dick, not so much.  I'm glad I read it, but I wouldn't say it was altogether enjoyable.

Image result for moby dick cover


"Call me Ishmael." It may be the best known opening sentence in English literature.  That's always been odd to me.  It's a very simple sentence; only four syllables.  Yet it has an impact in its own way.  I sort of missed its simplicity during the following pages, which I found very difficult to parse.  This is indicative of the rest of the novel.  I found most of the book to be a well told interesting story interspersed with long sections which are incredibly boring or difficult to read.  He has full long chapters that describe the taxonomy of whales or literature about whaling in an incredibly dry manor.  I understand that at least some of this information is important to really grasping what's occurring in the story.  But it seems like a cheap method to basically jam a technical manual into the middle of the story instead of interweaving the essential information as he tells the story.

All that being said, it could have been a lot worse.  I certainly think it's worth a read.

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