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Publisher's Summary

When Herman Melville finished Moby Dick, he wrote a letter to his friend Nathaniel Hawthorne and said: "I have written a wicked book and feel spotless as the lamb."

Unfortunately, very few people actually finish reading this 'wicked' book. One early critic said: "Melville's book can sink a ship with greater force than any whale that I know of." Moby Dick, as originally written, is just plain heavy, difficult to read from cover to cover. It's too thick, too digressive, too esoteric, with pages and pages of technical details about the whaling industry, the anatomy of a whale and pursuits that are just not captivating enough to a low attention, modern audience.

Many high-school students and college literature majors are assigned Moby Dick, only to get through the first couple of chapters and substitute the cliff notes instead.

Melville received a rather indifferent, empty reception to the release of Moby Dick. He died a poor man, not able to anticipate the impact that this book would have into the 20th and 21st centuries.

More people need to read Moby Dick, in its pages we learn of the mysteries of Melville and insights into human nature, our relationship to God, others and ourselves. Melville has been called a "rational man who wants God to exist, to be our rescuer, to act as a confidant in our moments of crisis and to give us reassurance that, over the horizon of our deaths, we will survive." (Updike, J. (2019, July 31). Herman Melville’s Soft Withdrawal. The New Yorker). 

In Moby Dick, this statement about Melville takes shape in the characters of the whaling story.

By listening to Moby Dick, we can learn to stretch our arms to include others; different than ourselves. The close relationship between Ishmael (the narrator) and Queequeg (a cannibal) prove this with Melville's infamous line "how elastic our stiff prejudices grow when love once comes to bend them". Over 50 million copies of Moby Dick have now been sold. But, how many of those have been read?

©2021 Levi Barber (P)2021 Levi Barber

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