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Moby Dick


Herman Melville

Moby Dick
average rating is 3 out of 5

Classics, Fiction, Fantasy

R. Alex Jenkins

Moby Dick is one of those classic books that people love or hate, and because I don't want to froth enthusiasm about a book I don't especially love, we're stuck in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, jostling for intellectual territory.

There are so many negative opinions about how dull and waffling Moby Dick is, with people crucifying it, refusing to finish it or unable to make it through to the end. But, funnily enough, I rather enjoyed the rough beginning that's even more bizarre than the choppiest seas later in the book. The weird bro-romance with Queequeg, the hatefulness of Captain Ahab and the lack of discernible plot while endlessly meandering through the ocean.

There’s enough technical jargon and plot stalls to drag Moby Dick down like a barnacle-strewn anchor, but this is where I most enjoyed the book, by taking time to research specifics about whales, their behaviour, the significance of whaling in years gone by and the importance of blubber and sperm as vital sources of light and fuel hundreds of years ago. I found the whales rather cute, endearing, friendly, free and merely hunted for commercial purposes by men doing their jobs, many of them wild and half-crazy while at it.

If you like quick action books straight to the point, instead of slow, meandering, archaic and technical literature, you’ll probably hate Moby Dick, but I have a soft spot for it as a literary snob (of sorts) for having waded through and survived.

I can’t positively recommend this book because it’s too long and drawn out for that, but it’s not as bad as some people make out. You need plenty of time, lowered expectations, patience and heaps of determination to get just rewards.

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