In writing Moby Dick, Melville reflected his times, the 1950's, as tensions were growing in the country that soon lead to the Civil War. The story, and his characters, embody basic truths about the human condition, and about society, that have meaning for us today, over 150 years later.
The author gives us a lot of information about Melville's personal life, and about the sacrifices he (and his family) made to complete the book. Of course, he discuses the book, too, but I would have liked additional commentary about the story, itself, the symbolism and the characters.
I was fascinated to learn about Melville's close friendship with Nathaniel Hawthorne and how Hawthorne's gentle influence caused Melville to completely rewrite (and improve) Moby Dick. I recommend this book to anyone who wishes to deepen their understanding of this great novel.
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