(P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"The greatest of American novels." (Atlantic Monthly)
"[A]n intense, superbly authentic narrative. Its theme and central figure are reminiscent of Job in his search for justice and of Oedipus in his search for truth."(Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature)
Have you decided to buy an unabridged version of Moby Dick, but are not sure which narrator to choose? This review is for you.
When I bought Anthony Heald's version of Moby Dick in early 2010, it seemed like the best unabridged version available: the reviews were strong and the sample of Heald's reading seemed imaginative and engaging.
But the reality was that I could not listen past the first few hours, though I tried on many occasions to keep going. The problem? Heald over-acts, and I find it really hard to sympathize with his interpretation of Ishmael's narrative voice. If the Ishmael in your head is crafty, cunning, is always on the verge of running his hands together slyly, and sounds a bit like a closet-case, then you won't mind Heald's reading. But for me, it's way overdone. The sample's breathy emphasis on the word "MAGIC" will give you a hint of what is to come even in far more pedestrian moments that don't merit this kind of tone.
I've decided to download the newest version (March 2010) read by Norman Dietz. Will let you all know how that one compares.
This is arguably the finest American novel, by the perfect narrator. Heald's voice is American, amazingly expressive, diverse for the different characters, and easy to listen to for hours. He brings out the humor, illuminates the anguish and tragedy, and even keeps you interested in the descriptive passages about whales and whaling. I can’t say enough about Heald as a conductor to this great book.
As for Moby Dick itself, I came back to it decades after I had first read it as a teenager. Now I have a much deeper appreciation of the nuances in the many thematic threads that Melville weaves through his tale, and I am blown away by his writing. I really encourage you to read it for the first time, or to return to it. It is truly a great novel. And a funny one.
If you are not well read and you are not sure what to choose, know this; most people who are well read and lets say, are about to die, if given a choice of one book before going, might choose this book because its long and its THE masterpiece of writing and you would die after experiencing the highest form of human thought.
It took me over a month because I had to go back over and over to swim in it (tee hee).
The narrator performs as if he has been honored to do this genious work.
I can't believe I waited so long to listen to this American classic. It paints a full picture of the time period, the whaling industry and it's motivations. It's a great audible.com experience.
This is not a book that can be appreciated with just one listen. Because it is a Classic it must be read again and savored. The characters are described with great depth and even humorous as we all are in some way. The story is interesting as it gives insight into 19th century life on the coast and at sea. It's truly amazing how whales were classified with so much detail and accuracy. Last but not least is the moral that you draw from having heard this masterpiece. The narrator is not too distracting but fair so I only give it 4 stars.
Heald's narration of Moby Dick is astonishing. No word sounds wrong. To the contrary, the narration itself is a flawless work of art.
It is understandable why Moby Dick seems pointless and tedious to some readers (I disagree, but understand).
With his voice, Heald almost miraculously reflects the novel with meaning and purpose.
There are many chapters worth listening to over and over for the delight.
True, some chapters, even with Heald, are dry, although the dry chapters themselves have a point which Heald conveys perfectly.
Moby Dick can be compared to other contemporaneous novels (roughly speaking) of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, and the thought seen to be as remarkable, although an entirely different, American, perspective on existence.
Human existence and human nature are the amazing point of art, whatever that point may be.
Heald imparts a deep humanity in his narration. Whether Heald personally is as deep as his narration, who knows. Maybe it is a fluke. For whatever reason, he succeeds.
The colorful characters from all over the world.
Queequeg. He is just unusual and fun in his own way.
No, not yet.
It was to long but I had it done in 2 weeks listening when I could.
Moby Dick is a long book with a lot of slow parts. It can be hard to read through without falling asleep but when listening with a narration such as Anthony Heald, there is no boring!!
The characters and Anthony Heald's voices for them...fun!! He did a fantastic job for each character especially in giving them their own uniqueness.
Anthony Heald made it seem as if he wasnt just telling the story he at times seemed to be acting it out too. He really made it all come to life. I never thought I would enjoy Moby Dick as much as I did listening to Anthony Heald's narration.
Travel a lot for work and spend a good deal of time in the car.
Of course its a classic. it really gives you an inside view of the whaleing industry in the days before oil from the ground. All machines and lamps used whale oil. No industrial revoloution without it.
I have listened to some horrible narrators but this one is definatly one of the good ones.
The book needs no introduction. Part melodrama, part encyclopedia (one comes away with a fairly intimate sense of the 1850s-era whaling industry and the whaling life), part philosophy, all driving forward like a ship under full sail. The last third of the book is as fine writing as we have.
The narration does all this justice. Heald has fashioned a voice and cadence which seem the man Ishmael himself, and bring his world to life -- perhaps more vividly to life than scanning the words on a printed page would match. One should not be without this experience.
It's all here--history, natural history, anthropology, philosophy, and adventure--so rich, so complex. I admit that when I first read this book some 20 years ago , I also found the passages about whales and whale parts puzzling if not annoying. This time around, I loved them, found them profound and evocative, more compelling even than Ahab's famous obsession with the white whale. And Anthony Heald is a talented storyteller, obviously familiar with the material, who gives each word its due; I have no regrets about choosing his narration.
"better off with an abridged version?"
I read Moby Dick when I was a student and recalled that it was a bit of a struggle to get through to the end. Listening to it again made me remember why. Although the book is rightly regarded as a classic, to the modern reader, it is terribly padded in the middle with long dissertations on all aspects of whaling, sometimes in minute and confusing detail which rather detracts from the momentum of the story - which is undoubtedly a thriller when it is allowed to get going. Although I am not generally a fan of abridged versions, I think this book might be an exception.
On the plus side the reader does a masterful job and I think it was his superb performance that made for an entertaining experience, and kept me going to the end.
"Brilliant Novel, Brilliant Performance: Flawless!"
I first read Moby Dick when I was about fourteen and loved it. I saw the movie with Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab on t.v. as a Sunday afternoon matinee and enjoyed that too but the movie was all about action and not about the music of language so it never matched up to the book for me. The novel is poetry and a 'stream of consciousness' and a rich exploration of a million ideas about the rewards, laments, pleasant and unpleasant sensations of life. It is a 'classic' because it endures reading after re-reading and throughout a lifetime it is always a new experience to read it. Now in my fifties, I must have read Moby Dick maybe twenty times and I guess I will read it many more times in the years ahead.
Don't ask me for a synopsis of the 'story' because for such a sophisticated novel, any synopsis is a betrayal. Okay, you twisted my arm, here's a brief summary: an American feels jaded by life on land, goes to sea in a whaler, befriends Queequeg, a Pacific Islander harpoonier, is drawn into Captain Ahab's obsession with hunting down a great white whale that had previously injured the captain, leaving him with only one leg (and a peg leg made of whalebone), with dramatic, tragic consequences. In the course of which narrative, the author gives us vivid descriptions of scenes and characters, wonderful asides expressing pithy opinion on virtually everything under the sun, and generally presents himself, the author, as the most fascinating human being amongst a whole cast of amazing and interesting people, his characters, none of whom is a mere stereotype but all sublimely unique and a Romantic hero - all 'cool' (Melville's own term). You can't spend time amongst such elevated company without feeling inspired and inflamed with a desire to be a Romantic hero too - you can see why I fell in love with the book as a fourteen-year-old, chuckle. Now over fifty, no longer a hero to myself or anyone, I still love the author's imagination and artistry and his moral courage able to paint humanity as so absolutely admirable and always noble or at least 'cool', even when 'lowly sailors' in their right mind and eating dumplings or respectable Captains, crazed, and stumping the deck in the graveyard watch.
A favourite book, I was wary of buying an audio recording because who could ever match up to the narrator in my own head and summon up the same rich and fascinating inner images and the same varied emotional responses? The movies failed, could an audio performance succeed? I tried all the versions of Moby Dick on offer through Audible.co.uk and settled on this version because I was bowled over by the performance of Anthony Heald. I can't praise it enough! He reads with sensitivity, a deep engagement with the text, a dramatic flare. I called Moby Dick a 'stream of consciousness' and as such it needs to be 'inhabited' so the text flows, it has to feel like it is coming spontaneously from a human soul, someone who is letting us share in his experiences, sensations, thoughts as they occur. Anthony Heald is able to do this and his reading brings out all the rich complexity of the text, its poetry, and all the rich complexity of the characters, their varied feelings and thoughts. You 'live' Moby Dick with this performance. It deserves some sort of award. Are there Oscars for audio performances? This recording makes all the others sound like computer generated text-to-voice.
Warning: a great novel is not like a trashy paperback, you cannot read it with half your attention and 'get it'. A great novel requires you to read it with respect, full attention, pulling your own weight in the author-reader partnership. Similarly, some audio books are so badly performed you can tune in and out and miss little. Shrug. But other audio books, and this version of Moby Dick is certainly one, enshrine great solo performances by excellent character actors and deserve the same committed attention you'd give an actor in a theatre. Bottom line, to get value from anything you usually have to put effort into it. A willingness to devote attention to this great book, whether you read it or listen to an unabridged audio recording of it, will bring great reward.
Note: this recording misses out the material included at the beginning of the printed book (copyright, contents, introduction, etymology, extracts) and begins with 'Chapter One: Loomings'. I do not find this spoils my pleasure but other reviewers have complained that these omissions mean the recordings are not acurately described as 'unabridged'. I guess it would matter if this were my only copy of Moby Dick but since I have both print and eBook versions the omission is trivial for me.
Summary, if you love classic literature and are willing to invest attention to a masterly performance then I most heartily recommend Moby Dick as read by Anthony Hearn. Absolutely TOP MARKS. Personally, I will be looking out for more performances by Mr Hearn. Call me a fan, chuckle.
"Good book but goes off plot a lot"
I enjoyed listening to this book. One of the main reasons is the narration. Anthony Heald really made the book come alive. I am not usually a fan of dramatic readings but it worked brilliantly for me this time.
I did find the book a bit hard going when the author went off plot and started talking about whaling. This happened a lot in the middle and it did detract from the rhythm of the story. But this book is a classic and who am I to argue with it.
Overall it’s a good listen.
This is a book I've wanted to read for some time, but just didn't get around to it. I finally decided on the audio version as the best way to tackle it. It was a really good choice. The narrator, Anthony Heald was excellent, the story was absorbing and all the peripheral facts about whaling and whales and life at sea as it was at the time were totally absorbing.
I loved this version of the book, the narration brought all the characters to life. A great listen, highly recommended.
"Evocative reading of a classic"
I'm not sure I recognise the validity of the question. This is the unabridged audio book, and therefore IS the print version in audio form.
Powerful descriptions of Whale hunts, expertly read by Anthony Heald.
Heald brings the entire book to vivid life. The characters are bristling with deep realism. The sense of time, place, triumph and peril are all translated evocatively by Heald. He is a truly superb narrator.
This question is not relevant. However, the book is deep and broad in it's portrayal of maritime life aboard a Whaling vessel of the period. And, this audio version is possibly the most immersive audio book I have ever listened to.
Listen to this. You will not regret it.
"Very much NOT "unabridged"..."
Start this up and you will quickly be rewarded with the famous line "Call me Ishmael". Only problem is that this doesn't come up in the novel until after two prefaces - a short "Etymology" and a longer section of "Extracts". This second in particular - 15 pages long, in my edition - is not a part of the book that anyone should miss. So, for that reason, one star.
If it's abridged, say so.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.