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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

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (1219 )
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4.3 (941 )
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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
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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.

    18 of 18 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.

    35 of 36 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dave Whittier, CA, United States 05-09-12
    Dave Whittier, CA, United States 05-09-12 Member Since 2010

    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
  •  
    Livelightly Washingtonn DC 02-09-11
    Livelightly Washingtonn DC 02-09-11 Member Since 2009
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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.

    23 of 24 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.

    32 of 34 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
    438
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    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
  •  
    P. R. Ecker New York, NY USA 04-12-11
    P. R. Ecker New York, NY USA 04-12-11

    Rubyview

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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
  •  
    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).

    3 of 3 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.

    18 of 22 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 62 results PREVIOUS127NEXT
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  • Colin
    CumbernauldUnited Kingdom
    2/3/09
    Overall
    "A Classic"

    Everybody knows the story of Moby Dick so there is no point in trying to critique it. The narrator is Frank Muller and he is fantastic. I first heard Muller reading Sea Wolf available in Audible.com but unfortunately not the UK equivelant. Muller has the perfect voice for adventure yarns and his reading of Moby Dick is so well suited. I was saddened by his untimely death as I consider him one of the best audiobook narrators. It is he that makes this classic novel very much a classic audiobook.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Matthew
    United Kingdom
    9/4/12
    Overall
    "Great narration, but Melville needed an editor"

    If you've already decided you're going to listen to this famous American novel, this is a great edition to pick: Frank Muller is an absolutely joy to listen to. His pitch and speed are very easy to listen to, and he handles the wide variety of characters, scenes and expositions expertly. Highly recommended.

    On the other hand, if you're trying to make your mind up about the novel itself it's not so clear. While Moby Dick has a great central story, it's not nearly as long as its enormous length implies. This regular length story is padded with an enormous amount of detail. Most, but by no means all, of this detail is interesting, but having sections of encyclopaedia unapologetically crammed into various parts of the story is jarring. Melville could have done with a good editor, who would hopefully have forced him to weave the pertinent detail into the story and leave the rest out!

    The other issue is the characters' use of language. The novel was published in 1851, so obviously you'd expect a certain amount of archaic language. However, I suspect that this dialogue would have been considered flowery and archaic even in 1851. Pompous, even.

    I don't want to leave you with the impression that it's a bad book: it's not. I have enjoyed it, and its insight into whaling in the first half of the 19th century. However, despite its reputation, it's certainly not without some significant flaws.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Richard
    NEWCASTLE UPON TYNEUnited Kingdom
    8/23/10
    Overall
    "Essential listening"

    Two things i've been doing for many years; listening to audiobooks and trying to read Moby Dick-normally getting about 3 pages in and giving up, and then telling people what a load of rubbish it is. Frank Muller is for me the king of narrators, and he deftly brings each of the characters in Melville's masterpiece to life,as a result i now consider Moby Dick to be the best book i've ever 'read', and by a nautical mile the best audiobook i've ever listened to. Essential.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Peter
    Gt Yarmouth, United Kingdom
    11/24/11
    Overall
    "An amazing classic"

    I came to listen to this book having seen the film and with some knowledge of the story. But the book has more in it than I could ever have imagined. It is truly a work of great fiction. The main story itself is only probably a tenth of the book. The other nine tenths contains tales and facts which will entertain, amaze, inform you and even make you smile. Reading the book would always be a daunting prospect but not so listening to it read by a master story teller, Frank Muller, it is sheer joy. I heard his voice in my head long after I stopped listening. I cannot recommend this audio too highly.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • James
    Chester, United Kingdom
    11/2/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "This is the one"

    Yes, its long, and sometimes you want to give up, but dont because duration is its theme and this is a novel you live with while reading and thereafter. And there are several audio versions, but Muller's the definitive one.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Matthew
    Chesterfield, United Kingdom
    12/25/12
    Overall
    "Moby Dick"

    Evocative, crafted and clever. This book is a masterpiece of storytelling as carefully honed as a walnut skinned whaler's personal harpoon.



    This is a thoroughly enjoyable classic. If you haven't listened to it yet, then do.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • janien
    hampshire, UK
    8/17/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Full of fascinating facts about whaling."
    Would you consider the audio edition of Moby Dick to be better than the print version?

    I would imagine the audible version is easier to digest. There are lengthy description of the whaling industry. This was obviously factual and interspersed with the story. Perhaps easier to follow in this format.


    Have you listened to any of Frank Muller’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    A good performance, I had no difficulties listening to the reader.


    Any additional comments?

    Included on the 1001 books to read before you die list. I loved it and particularly the unusual format of fiction interspersed with fact. It's worth background reading about melville's life first; seemingly as adventurous as the novel! That prior research facilitated the whole experience, he speaks from first hand experience of much detailed. One of my favourite classics read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • hfffoman
    Kent
    11/24/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Intelligent but ultimately too boring"
    Would you try another book written by Herman Melville or narrated by Frank Muller?

    Melville, no, Muller yes


    Any additional comments?

    Anyone venturing on the unabridged version of Moby Dick must know they are in for a difficult voyage. I was surprised how erudite and intelligent the writing was and for a while I enjoyed it, partly thanks to the skillful and gritty narrator. Unfortunately it was ultimately just too dull and after 8 hours I decided there were better things to listen to.

    Less than half of the book is actual narrative. The rest is like a series of essays on whaling. That in itself is ok, the trouble is that some of the essays are utterly tedious, for example, the section summarising the scientific knowledge of whales in the early 19th century. It is presented as an extract from an encyclopedia and it sounds unfortunately genuine. I don't want to read a 19th century encyclopedia for entertainment, especially when it goes on for half an hour listing mind-numbing trivia. The essay on the specialness of the colour white lasts even longer and was, for me, the final straw. If you do take this book, you might like to skip ahead when you reach those points. (One of them I remember was around chapter 42)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. J. Mccarthy
    Ascot or Limerick
    9/17/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The Reader makes it."
    Would you listen to Moby Dick again? Why?

    The depth of interpretation from Muller is magnificent.
    I am British born Irish, maybe we hear differently ? I too tried to read this as a youngster, and gave up. This rescues the book for me and the relevance of all sections of the story are clear.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The story is a wonderful attempt at the Classical; Odysseus and all that.
    But it is tied to one era and serves that well. It is educational from the need to take your harpoon to bed with you to the nature of ships' captains houses and of the chapels.


    Have you listened to any of Frank Muller’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    All Muller did was very, very good. This is the most demanding and the most successful.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I think not possible; it is too long. But in the sense that once in you do not want to let go - Yes.


    Any additional comments?

    Don't be dissuaded by the length of the book nor the departures into emotional description.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    Carnforth, United Kingdom
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "Tends toward the florid"

    This book may have been better in the abridged format, I have found it over descriptive and kept loosing interest before the real action started. The narrator has a nice voice but tends to the over dramatic even when there is no drama going on. I think it is worth persisting with though as it is an epic tale and one of those books everyone has heard of but few have read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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