The Great American Novel
Ishmael narrates this tale about the hunt for the white wale on his first voyage as a seaman. He tells it without exposing us to his psyche and with reverence for the professional whaler and the honorable men aboard the Pequod. From his very first words of the book "Call Me Ishamel" to the his final words as the only survivor, Ishmael is the keyhole through which we view the events and history and the sea. And most importantly, he makes us believe every word.
No doubt, it was Ahab. Ahab whose madness is reflected in his soulful yearning for a confrontation with Moby Dick but then his poignant revelation of his love of the sea and whaling forces us to wonder if perhaps he was correct to follow his destiny and not mad. This journey evolves slowly and Mr. Heald performs it magnificiently, from the respected captain and earnest whaler to a driven obsessed madman. When Ahab succumbs to Moby Dick he reminesces on the loss of his life and the sacrifices he made to pursue the whale. Sacrifices that include loss of time with his child, wife and home. Mr. Heald presented Ahab with sensitivity and emotion. When members of the crew are killed, Ahab mourns and grieves with voice of an angel and when Ahab realizes that Moby Dick prevails, Mr. Heald projects audible surrender.
First of all the narration was good. The story was simply boring. I read quite a bite, including 19th century novels, and this one just has way too many passages that do nothing to advance the story
I admit I am partial to those wonderful English narrators like Simon West, David Timlin or Juliet Stephenson. Anthony Heald, for starters, has one of the finest-and really one of the few tolerable, American voices I have heard on any of these audio books. He is also a great actor. This is simply an extraordinary performance, a living out, hour upon hour, without a second of mistakes or lapse in effort, of this rich book. If I could, I would add a couple of stars just for Anthony Heald.
Moby Dick is a tapestry in many ways; an experimental novel. On one part, even with its global cast, Melville was trying to establish some "credence" for America, talking about the Erie Canal and so on. There are other parts clearly inspired by Shakespeare and his ilk. In places, it almost seems like a time-traveling Faulkner influenced the writing-or is it the other way. There are plenty of oddities, flaws and warts, but flights of language, imagination, scenario that stand the test of time. Books like this simply aren't written any longer, which is our loss.
I really wanted to like this book, since it is a classic, and so widely taught, but I finally had to give up. It is an adventure story without a plot, a character study with too many digressions, and a study of the 19th Century perceptions of whale characteristics that is no longer relevant. The narrator did a superb job. My hat is off to him. But about ten hours into the book, I had to quit.
I read the entire book in high school. I remembered the long descriptions, but I thought there was a lot more action. I get what Melville tried to do, having been in the Navy. Life on board ship is monotonous. Still, I found the descriptions interesting. Modern taste, I guess, requires a lot of action. Dickens is not as interesting as I thought he would be. But Mark Twain is. Anyway, I am sure I will listen to this again.
...You know, from the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. "Hello, I'm Mr Peabody. And this is my whale, Moby."
But all seriousness aside, I loved this reading, whale lectures and all. And in Melville I've discovered an author I am eager to read (or hear) more of. This story deserves all the accolades bestowed on it, and the reading was, well, let's say near flawless. The only nit I have to pick with it is that the narrator seemed to need a shot of Jolt Cola. Much of the time his voice droned sleepily, lacking the jaunty modulation of his cartoon counterpart.
If you are at all interested in this classic, this rendering will be worth a listen.
While the detailed catalogs and descriptions held my interest when I was reading the book, it put me to sleep in the audio version. Also, the reader has a small affectation in his speach that I thought I could get used to, but it grated against me from start to finish. Still, this audiobook is worth listening to... I just wish I had purchased the abridged version.
Adams Morgan is an amazing narrator, who gives distinctive voices to each of the many characters, with believable accents and palpable emotions. I will look for other works read by him.
I was surprised to find so much humor and satire in the book I've always avoided due to its reputation of being the "greatest American novel" and the dread of many students of literature. Melville repeatedly pokes fun at our human weaknesses and prejudices, making me laugh throughout the reading.
The book is written in language reminisent of Shakespeare: poetic, powerful prose that begs to be reheard. My only regret is that by listening, I was unable to underline the most memorable sentences for future reference. A book of quotations could be filled with the many profound and witty statements in Moby Dick.