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Moby-Dick | [Herman Melville]

Moby-Dick

Labeled variously a realistic story of whaling, a romance of unusual adventure and eccentric characters, a symbolic allegory, and a drama of heroic conflict, Moby Dick is first and foremost a great story. It has both the humor and poignancy of a simple sea ballad, as well as the depth and universality of a grand odyssey.
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Publisher's Summary

Its famous opening line, "Call me Ishmael," dramatic in its stark simplicity, begins an epic that is widely regarded as the greatest novel ever written by an American. Labeled variously a realistic story of whaling, a romance of unusual adventure and eccentric characters, a symbolic allegory, and a drama of heroic conflict, Moby Dick is first and foremost a great story. It has both the humor and poignancy of a simple sea ballad, as well as the depth and universality of a grand odyssey.

When Melville's father died in 1832, the young man's financial security went too. For a while he turned to school-mastering and clerking, but failed to make a sustainable income. In 1840 he signed up on the whaler, Acushnet, out of New Bedford, Massachusetts. He was just 21. A whaler's life turned out to be both arduous and dangerous, and in 1842, Melville deserted ship. Out of this experience and a wealth of printed sources, Melville crafted his masterpiece.

©1987 Recorded Books, LLC.; (P)1987 Recorded Books, LLC.

What Members Say

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4.0 (1324 )
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4.3 (1032 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Alice Laurel, MD, USA 10-17-09
    Alice Laurel, MD, USA 10-17-09 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    19
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    "I felt totally swept up in this world"

    I liked this book in its print form, a lot. But I have to say that the audio version is even better. Frank Muller is an absolute genius. He can do everything -- from a Nantucket innkeeper, to all of the various accents on board the Pequod, and even the dialect of a freed slave. I hope I can find more of his work.

    19 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brendon Atlanta, GA, USA 01-18-09
    Brendon Atlanta, GA, USA 01-18-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An American Classic!"

    The narrator does good job with this epic, though a bit cliche. How else do you characterize the voices of sea dogs other than what you already expect? Otherwise, a gripping and poetic story, full of subdued (and therefore more humorous) jabs at Christian society and the customs of the age. It is sometimes difficult to follow the tangents into deep descriptions of the whale (especially considering how far marine biology has come), but the payoff is in the plethora of one-liners that zing into timelessness. Not having read the book previously, I was amazed at how many references are made to this book in pop culture. Some are obvious, others not so much. Either way, this book has enough to keep you interested to the finish and the narrator keeps the characterizations enlivened so that the result is an entertaining and fecund experience.

    36 of 37 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Livelightly 02-09-11
    Livelightly 02-09-11 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Muller is e3xceptional"

    I have learned to seek out the books read by now deceased Frank Muller, and found Moby-Dick because I thought it would be challenging enough to bring out his best. Indeed it does. I had read the book myself a couple of times, more or less because I thought an educated man needed to. Now that I have heard Muller's interpretation I can see the greatness of the book. No women in it, of course. Muller does women better than any other male reader.... Don't miss this. Also the books he read by Cormac McCarthy. His loss is a great one to the book world.

    25 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dave Whittier, CA, United States 05-09-12
    Dave Whittier, CA, United States 05-09-12

    I'm a big fan of SF/F/Horror (all the better if they're mashed up together, my dears!), and enjoy other literature as well.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I Had No Idea Melville Was So Funny"

    I put off Moby Dick for a long time due to an experience in high school with Billy Budd. I didn't think I wanted to read this one, but was eventually swayed by some friends. Thankfully! Moby Dick's a thrilling adventure story full of depth and gravity and horror. It certainly earns its reputation as an American Classic. What surprised me, though, was how funny Melville is. I didn't realize he had such a sense of humor.

    Muller's reading is, of course, a benchmark of excellence. He made this story come alive for me in ways I didn't think it could. I'm so glad I finally decided to give this one a chance.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph Austin, TX, United States 01-27-10
    Joseph Austin, TX, United States 01-27-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "It's a classic, you just have to accept that."

    First, the story. It's been described by enough reviews that I can't add to it, so I'll just say that about a quarter of the story is some of the best action sequences and intricate character interactions you will ever read even compared to modern writers, and about three fourths of the story is exposition about whaling and whales and the culture of 19th century whalers that is fascinating, educational, critical to the story, and not always easy to stay awake through.

    Second, the reader. If you've heard Frank Muller read Stephen King, forget that. He is completely different in this. He is vivid, crisp, and quick, and that is a lifesaver in this work. Even in passages about whales and their classifications, he maintains a lively inflection that might help you through it.

    If you've ever tried and failed to read Moby Dick, try this reading of it. If you still can't get through it, give it up. This is the best chance you have, and yes, it is well worth it to do so.

    I gave it a five because it is a tremendous reading of a classic, moreso than any judgement about the classic itself. I love it, but it's not Dan Brown, for better and worse.

    33 of 35 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Berkeley, CA, USA 03-28-10
    Mark Berkeley, CA, USA 03-28-10 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Pleasure!"

    My preference is almost always the interior narrator: the voice in my head when I am reading silently to myself, and I have read this book so many times--and yet Muller does a wonderful job with the voice of Ishmael, street-wise, ship-wise, and philisophical, truly rendering the epic drama and poem of Moby Dick. Moreover, I think the lined poems, the songs, the epigrams, dialogs and monologues, those "extra" parts of the narrative, all seem welded into the story by Muller's reading. Really great!

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dave Whittier, CA 05-09-12
    Dave Whittier, CA 05-09-12 Member Since 2010

    I'm a big fan of SF/F/Horror, and all things in between and out.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    471
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    162
    74
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    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I Had No Idea Melville Was So Funny"

    I put off Moby Dick for a long time due to an experience in high school with Billy Budd. I didn't think I wanted to read this one, but was eventually swayed by some friends. Thankfully! Moby Dick's a thrilling adventure story full of depth and gravity and horror. It certainly earns its reputation as an American Classic. What surprised me, though, was how funny Melville is. I didn't realize he had such a sense of humor.

    Muller's reading is, of course, a benchmark of excellence. He made this story come alive for me in ways I didn't think it could. I'm so glad I finally decided to give this one a chance.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C.B.E. Colorado, United States Minor Outlying Islands 09-03-11
    C.B.E. Colorado, United States Minor Outlying Islands 09-03-11 Member Since 2010

    Claywise

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Renewed appreciation"

    My attention span as a reader has decreased over the past decade - thanks, Internet - but I was thrilled to have "Moby Dick" read to me by Frank Muller, who did a great job. I knew I loved this book when I was younger, despite all my failed attempts to re-read as an adult. I'd rank it right up there in my top 10, and put it on my list of "difficult books worth reading" (which includes "Ulysses," "Gravity's Rainbow," "Under the Volcano," "The Sound and the Fury" and more).

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    P. R. Ecker 04-12-11
    P. R. Ecker 04-12-11

    Rubyview

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Loved the reader.."

    and now I love the story even more. There are more expensive versions but I liked this one the best. It did take forever to listen to but I came to appreciate more and more of the subtleties of the story. If I were assigned this in school I would get this audiobook for the work which would keep me awake far longer than the book. I found Frank Muller's voice excellent.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gillette Lawrence, KS, United States 03-12-11
    Gillette Lawrence, KS, United States 03-12-11 Member Since 2004
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    "Depends on your literary tastes"

    Frank Muller, may he rest in peace, could make the phone book entertaining if he read it aloud. This book is no different in that it's outstandingly read. However, the plot is very very slow. The language is artful and the themes are interestingly explored. The world of the 18th/19th century shipping culture is vividly presented, but if you're not a fan of a literary genre that prizes style of presentation over brisk plot movement and character development, you may not enjoy this book very much.

    For example, at one point Melville goes on for over an hour about the color white. The prose of this section is arful, and that can be enjoyable if you like that sort of thing, but not otherwise. It took me a while of starts and stops to finish this one, but I'm glad to have Muller's work, even if the writing was not my cup of tea.

    20 of 24 people found this review helpful
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