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5.0 von 5 Sternen "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method."
Thus begins Chapter 82 of Melville's masterpiece "Moby-Dick", where Ishmael tries to give the reader some understanding of the history and meaningfulness of whaling. The selfsame motto also seems to apply to the composition of "Moby-Dick", because in terms of richness and intricacy it ranges on the same level as Sterne's "Tristram Shandy" or the works of James Joyce...
Veröffentlicht am 7. August 2009 von Tristram Shandy

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3.0 von 5 Sternen Inflated Melville
I am one of those who firmly believes that Melville's non-fiction is superior to his fiction. "Typee" and "Omoo" are more to my taste. "Moby Dick" contains any number of memorable characters, scenes and philosohpical speculations, but, unconfined by the autobiographical incidents that formed his early work, Melville's mind and his syntax...
Am 7. Juli 1999 veröffentlicht


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5.0 von 5 Sternen "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method.", 7. August 2009
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Thus begins Chapter 82 of Melville's masterpiece "Moby-Dick", where Ishmael tries to give the reader some understanding of the history and meaningfulness of whaling. The selfsame motto also seems to apply to the composition of "Moby-Dick", because in terms of richness and intricacy it ranges on the same level as Sterne's "Tristram Shandy" or the works of James Joyce.

Whosoever simply expects a gripping, speedy tale of an adventurous whale-hunt will surely be disappointed with "Moby-Dick", since the actual fight between Ahab and the White Whale takes place on the last 35 of 630 pages, and the plot-line at times is hardly discernible what with long passages on the species of whales, on the history of whaling and on the processes of hunting, killing and exploiting the whales and with interior monologues of the characters involved. So if you are bent on tension and action merely, you had better watch the excellent film adaption of the novel starring Gregory Peck as monomanic Ahab. Apart from that "Moby-Dick" falls short of basic narrative conventions in that the first person narrator Ishmael, who seems to be about to tell of story about himself at the beginning, is more and more fading out of the tale, finally taking on the character of an omniscient narrator, who knows the innermost thoughts of Ahab and other crew members, and of a commentator. Then there are long passages where seamen suddenly talk as though there were imbued with Shakespearean spirit and where the whole novel takes on the character of a play.

What kind of botch is that, you may asked dismayed. The answer is that "Moby-Dick" is a brilliant experiment in language, which becomes clear when you read some of its chapters aloud to yourself. Start with Father Mapple's sermon on Jonah here, and you will see what I mean. Melville taps the full dramatic potential of the English language, indeed seeming to be willing to emulate Shakespeare at times.

Then there are other passages which abound in a comic and frolicsome exuberance of imagination. Let me give you an example: "Certain I am, however, that a king's head is solemnly oiled at his coronation, even as a head of salad. Can it be, though, that they anoint it with a view of making its interior run well, as they anoint machinery? Much might be ruminated here, concerning the essential dignity of this regal process, because in common life we esteem but meanly and contemptibly a fellow who anoints his hair, and palpably smells of that anointing." (Chapter 25)

"Moby-Dick" is full of these little gems; it unites the ludicrous, the serious, the scientific, the mystic and many more aspects of human life, thus being what great literature is all about. It provides ample food for thought and it gives its readers many an opportunity to relish the power of the English language.

It is also interesting to see how much sympathy Melville apparently has for Captain Ahab, who is driven into madness by his wish for revenge on the White Whale. "All visible things, man, are but pasteboard masks. But in each event - in the living act, the undoubted deed - there, some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask! [...] [The White Whale] tasks me; he heaps me; I see in him outrageous strength, with an inscrutable malice sinewing it. That inscrutable thing is chiefly what I hate [...] Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I'd strike the sun if it insulted me." (Chapter 36) This is surely an unfailing recipe for unhappiness, but there is also something noble in this foolhardy energy. Was not much of man's civilisation and of human progress achieved in the teeth of the seemingly impossible or blasphemous?

Well, there is no orthodox reading of the symbolism of "Moby-Dick", and everyone might get his own idea on Ahab and his fight against the Whale. Last night I was in a pub and had an animated and long discussion with a friend of mine on this very book, and this is more than you can say about many other books.

So have a go at the adventure of reading "Moby-Dick": "Thar she blows!"
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3.0 von 5 Sternen Inflated Melville, 7. Juli 1999
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Rezension bezieht sich auf: Moby-Dick (Bantam Classic) (Taschenbuch)
I am one of those who firmly believes that Melville's non-fiction is superior to his fiction. "Typee" and "Omoo" are more to my taste. "Moby Dick" contains any number of memorable characters, scenes and philosohpical speculations, but, unconfined by the autobiographical incidents that formed his early work, Melville's mind and his syntax here ramble all over the place. It's interesting to note that this novel was resurrected from obscurity by Hollywood in the 1920's when it was adapted as a vehicle for John Barrymore.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen What a book..., 11. Mai 2011
The storyline is that of the protagonist, Ishmael, hiring aboard the Pequod for a whaling voyage. The ships captain, Ahab, sets out for the relentless and ill-fated pursuit of the white wale that previously took one of his legs. Melvilles writing is best described as experimential. There are passages narrated by the protagonist, lectures on everything to do with whales and whaling, scenes that almost seeme written for a stage-play, as well as passages narrated as if by an impersonal observer. Maybe less than half of the book is the actual account of the pursuit of Moby Dick, yet the lectures on whaling and what not, just seem to give the story more substance.
Clearly Melville portrays an archetypical struggle between, well, good and evil perhaps, or maybe God and man. Yet, many times it seems unclear who is good, who is evil. Even the relentless Ahab has his soft moments, and still is driven by fate towards his certain end. There is something promethean about Ahab, who, for all his hate and madness, seems more human than his mechanical dull-wited crew.
To sum it up, Moby Dick was a very enjoyable read that certainly starts you thinking. I thought about reading it for years, but heard that the language was rather difficult. It is rather antiquated - as was expected - but understandable, nevertheless. Non-native readers probably need a better-than-usual command of english. The chapters are, for the most part, rather short, which makes this book easier to read. Highly recommendable.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen A photographic negative of the New Testament, 5. August 1997
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Rezension bezieht sich auf: Moby-Dick (Bantam Classic) (Taschenbuch)
Pick your favorite Holy Book, say, the New Testament. What does it do? Why, it tells you how to gain happiness and eternal fulfillment, and illustrates the consequences of those who follow those rules. Yes, it examines the state of those who disobey, but its focus is on the reward for action.
Now look at Moby Dick. What does it do? Why, it tells you how to destroy your life. Page by excruciating page, it dissects and exposes the annihilation of Captain Ahab, a man destroyed not by a whale, but by his own consuming hatred and obsession for revenging himself upon his perceived "enemy". The final state of Ahab is no surprise; indeed, with his carcass lashed to the monster, Ahab merely assumes in reality the position he had occupied already for years.
Horrific and powerful. If the Bible doesn't convince you to return good for evil because it's the godly thing to do, perhaps Moby Dick will persuade you to abandon your revenge fantasies out of simple self-preservation.
PS For those who throw hissy fits over Melville's classification of whales as "fish" -- get over it. The book is not a scientific treatise, and in any case the specific definitions of "fish" and "mammal" weren't well-established or recognized when Melville published the book. So, using the definition of the time of "fish" as "sea animal", Melville was correct. Your criticism is anachronistic
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5.0 von 5 Sternen The greatest American Novel, 19. November 1997
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Moby-Dick (Bantam Classic) (Taschenbuch)
How to describe this book? It's wonderful, a revelation, a beam of white light piercing through the darkness of our souls. Ah, Melville, that great artist who aimed so high and found his mark with this awesome tale of the seas. Sure, it's an adventure tale, filled with action, danger, mystery, but strip all of that away and what do you have? MAN striving to get GOD to acknowledge HIM. Ahab(man), crazed by the injury caused by the Whale(God), his whole life reduced to the manic pursuit of that which eludes him. What a stirring metaphor. What a grand, operatic, messy, sometimes-overwritten, yet never boring novel. Great works are not perfect. Their very imperfection renders them great, for in the attempt at the sublime, the metaphysical, the ALL, they achieve an awe that stills the soul. And in the end, we have Ahab, glorious Ahab, unbowed, enraged, shouting his impotent rage at the Whale, as his life is swallowed away. Who's listening? Who's there, but the solitary narrator to witness the cataclysmic waste of it all? It's a difficult book. It's a slow book. It's a book that builds towards its climax with a stolidity that implies overwhelming confidence. But it rewards unlike any other book in American history. It's a matter of degrees, of first among equals, between this and LIGHT IN AUGUST, but MOBY DICK is the greatest American Novel.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen The greatest novel of the 19th century, 27. November 1998
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Rezension bezieht sich auf: Moby-Dick (Bantam Classic) (Taschenbuch)
Most people might consider me to be a bit idealistic to think that Moby Dick is the greatest novel of the 19th century, or even great to begin with. But undoubtedly this book contains so many subtleties and undertones that transcend most readers. The readers who get them, however, are brilliantly provoked. Moby Dick is the story of a vengeful captain Ahab embroiled in the fight of his life, the fight for the intangibly malignant great white whale. Herman Melville's messages on ambiguity, power, and masks are incredible. For example, his use of deconstruction and contradiction in describing man's discovery that there are things out there that are better left unknown, like with Moby Dick, are universally applicable. Moby Dick is not for everyone; it is a long book that can get monotonous and rambling. But just when people start to get agitated with its pace, Melville throws in some brilliant lines and ideas that are so powerful they can be hard to pick up. I encourage everyone, however, to give this book a shot. If you are really interested in reading the greatest novel of the 19th century, give yourself at least a month to do so. I promise you, you will not be disappointed. In time, you might start to agree what a remarkable book this is.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Moby-Dick Rocks, 7. August 1997
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Rezension bezieht sich auf: Moby Dick (Bibliothekseinband)
Moby-Dick is the best book ever written, only excepting All The King's Men by Robert Penn Warren. All of the allusions and metaphors and meanings in this awesome book could only be found by spending a lifetime on it. "Moby-Dick and Taoism"? Get a life! Melville was not "warning" us about anything except the danger of maniacal pride. The whole point of the book is that Ahab doesn't give a blankety-blank about Taoism or any other philosophy that would tell him to lay off the whale; he hates the whale and he has willingly, deliberately submerged and sacrificed his reason and his soul to kill the white whale, and at times he even meditates on the madness of pursuing a dumb animal for an injury it no doubt was not even conscious of -- and then rejects this argument because of the insult to his pride offered by Moby-Dick's very unconsciousness.

The stylism in Moby-Dick has never been surpassed; the rainbowing, extravagant images -- of the blank, mind-banishing terror of the color white, of the seductiveness of the dreamy reflective nature of the ocean from the crows-nest, of tired old Ahab throwing his pipe into the ocean, rejecting all comfort forever -- are breathtakingly striking and unforgettable
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4.0 von 5 Sternen The Problem of America, 18. Mai 1997
Von Ein Kunde
We should dispense with the Great American Novel business that usually clouds the real issue about the literary value of this book, along with others like Twain's "Huckleberry Finn". Moby Dick is a difficult book: difficul because, like America, it tries to make sense of many things all at once. We're confronted by Ishmael, the philosopher struck by wanderlust; Queequeg,the highly-civilized savage; Ahab, the American Faustus; Starbuck, the moralist who is torn by a temptation to blow Ahab's brains out with a musket and the desire to turn him away from his revenge plot; and finally, the silent yet pervasive character after whom the book is named, the White Whale himself, who seems to be some sort of deity whose motivations are unfathomable, like the depths he inhabits. It is next to impossible to find a satisfactory treatment of all these characters at once. Keep in mind that these are just the main characters; we haven't even started talking about the others yet. Where should we start judging a book? By what standards? It would take a lifetime to figure out all the hidden real-life implications within the book. It is vanity to think we have exhausted all the avenues of criticism that this book has to offer
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5.0 von 5 Sternen The Parallels of Moby Dick, 22. November 1998
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Moby-Dick (Bantam Classic) (Taschenbuch)
As an exellent and exciting novel, the story of Moby Dick goes way beyond the surface of what is written on its pages. Just before the Civil War, Herman Melville wrote this book. But what may this have to do with Moby Dick? If you examine each character and event closely, you may see that they are parallels to the actual times of right before the Civil War. There was much question of what would happen to the United States and Herman Melville wrote his prophecy of the it through this book. His thoughts of what would happen to the US were all hidden as different characters and events in the story. For example: Captain Ahab could have represented the Radical Abolitionists trying to demolish slavery, which was represented by Moby Dick, the great white whale. Please e-mail any comments or suggestions you may have on my thoughts of this book. For a free copy of my essay on the parallels of Moby Dick e-mail me at the address above and I will send it to you ASAP.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Great nautical story but often tortuous, 17. April 1997
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Rezension bezieht sich auf: Moby-Dick (Bantam Classic) (Taschenbuch)
"Moby Dick" is a powerful story of the obsession of Captain Ahab to commandeer the use of his crew and ship to wreck vengeance on the mighty beast Moby Dick; I only wish Melville had kept it at that. It seems that Melville couldn't decide whether he wanted to write a dark, brooding novel of obsession and destruction, or rather a scientific treatise on whales and whaling. The digressions seemed interminable. I recommend future readers simply skip them; you won't miss much and some of what he says is quite wrong (e.g., whales are NOT fish). I suppose a modern editor would have cleaned that up for him and prevented the novel from suffering from its reputation of being boring (not at all deserved). One last point, the final climactic scene where everyone (except Ishmael) drowns as the ship sinks is quite unbelievable
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