Moby-Dick (Print & Audio)

Thoughts IMG_1209 Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, Houghton Mifflin Company · Riverside Editions 1956 (orig 1851), 432 pages.

mdaudionbyfm Recorded Books 2008, narrated by Frank Muller, 22 hours

I heartily recommend anyone who has any interest in this ASTONISHING work of literature to listen to the audiobook. The story comes alive.

I was more than impressed with the passion and drama that Melville presents in this oh-so-much-more than a determined captain chasing his nemesis, The White Whale. And it has comedy and wit, too.

Sure, I will freely admit, that parts might be considered BOOOORRRRINNNG; Herm tediously offers every describable biological inch of the whale, every huge and minute detail of the whaling industry, and all sorts of facets about creatures of the deep to astound and fascinate and bore. Also thoughts on the Great Questions of philosophy & religion. But the language could also be delightful and poetic and lyrical and it was a lot of fun to listen to. Most of the time.

However, by 15 hours in, I was ready for this 22 hours Festival of Leviathans to be over. I likely heard only 80% while driving around or attempting to vacuum. I zoned out.  As soon as dialogue came back to my ears, I was fully into it and entranced once again.

“Moby-Dick is not only a very big book; it is also a peculiarly full and rich one, and from the very opening it conveys a sense of abundance, of high creative power, that exhilarates and enlarges the imagination. This quality is felt immediately in the style, which is remarkably easy, natural and “American” yet always literary, and which swells in power until it take on some of the roaring and uncontainable rhythms with which Melville audibly describes the sea.”  – Introduction by Alfred Kazin, Editor

I also heartily recommend Sam Ita’s Pop-Up Book: samitamd Sterling Press 2007, 8 pages

IMG_1216 I love  pop-up books… IMG_1215

I had always been intimidated by Moby-Dick. Nineteenth century language, it’s either loved or hated (which honestly, are the books that appeal to me), it’s long, Fizzy hated it, etc. But I found a copy that my Father-in-Law used in college that included some of his hand-written notes and I was thrilled to have that connection. I seriously doubt I would have survived it without the audiobook. But now that I’m finished, I could be tempted to read it again (someday). I live near New Bedford, Massachusetts which is steeped in whaling history and offers fun Melville connections – and a fabulous whaling museum. Come visit!

Now, if you prefer a more artsy interpretation of Moby-Dick, you might want to read what Brain Pickings shares about Matt Kish and his project to illustrate every page of this classic. I honestly can’t decide if I would want to look at this in its entirety, but I’m also quite drawn to it…


My favorite Moby-Dick quotes:

“Better to sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunk Christian.” 

“It is not down on any map; true places never are.”  (remind you of anyone? reminds me of Harry Potter and/or Neil Gaiman)

“As for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts.”

“To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be who have tried it.” 

This post is dedicated to my good friend KB, who has endured my tweeting and mailing quotes from this magnificent work of literature; my hope is that I might lure her to the pages and the poetic prose within.

The End.Finis.

The End.

I am glad to have read ye, my Moby-Dick. And glad to be done with ye! Til next time, fare thee well.


Copyright © 2007-2013. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

16 Responses to “Moby-Dick (Print & Audio)”

  1. 1 Melissa March 19, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    I read it last year and I was honestly shocked by how much I enoyed it. Like you said, there are parts that are long and tedious, but some of the writing is just so powerful. I’m glad you ended up liking it!

  2. 3 Ti March 19, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    I read it for a read along a while back and what surprised me, is how little of the book featured the whale!

    • 4 Care March 19, 2013 at 6:38 pm

      Huh. I hadn’t thought of that. Except that I knew most of the book was the quest, the search for Moby and they did have a pretty huge ocean count to explore.

  3. 5 Ali March 19, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    My brother-in-law read this to his boys when they were surprisingly young, and they all enjoyed it. I was flabbergasted at the time.

    I love the pop-up book!

    • 6 Care March 20, 2013 at 6:39 am

      In The Forgotten Garden, a young girl (like 2-3 yo)’s father reads her Moby Dick and she loves it. I had just downloaded the audio so I clearly recall thinking this was startling – that a v.young kid would like it! Also, I had read that the book didn’t gain popularity til much later than the time frame in The Forgotten Garden so I questioned that.

  4. 7 Bookfool, aka Nancy March 20, 2013 at 12:15 am

    I am totally in love with that pop-up book. I have a copy of Moby Dick and now I’m dying to read it.

    Also, Jean-Luc Picard quotes from Moby Dick in Star Trek: First Contact. Just watched it with Kiddo, this past weekend. Thought you’d like to know. Tiddlypom and all that.

  5. 9 Laurie C March 20, 2013 at 6:25 am

    I was the same way when I read MD, surprised to like it after hearing how boring it was. But that was a long time ago, and I should try to read it again one of these days now that I’m older and can theoretically appreciate it more!

  6. 11 Karen K. March 20, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Wow! I’m impressed. MD is a book that has always intimidated me, but I hope to tackle it this year, maybe this summer. I do have a beautiful Penguin Deluxe Graphics copy so I’m really going to try and read it soon. I also have the pop-up edition which I bought on sale and haven’t opened — I want to read the real thing first. And thanks for the recommendation about the audiobook — our library has two versions and I didn’t know which one to choose. I agree that audio really helps with long books like that, I’ve listened to quite a few Charles Dickens works on CD in the car.

    • 12 Care March 20, 2013 at 2:12 pm

      Yes, not sure I would have ever tackled Bleak House if I hadn’t had a readalong and the audio. I really think you will admire Moby-Dick, I do.

  7. 13 Ruthiella March 20, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Well, if Jean-Luc quotes from Moby Dick, I have to read it now too! Well, some day, not soon.

  8. 15 Bookworm Chick March 22, 2013 at 5:26 am

    I’ve been putting this off for so long, but now you’ve motivated me to get the audiobook so fingers crossed I manage to start it next week!

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