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About the book
  • Published: 12 August 2010
  • ISBN: 9781598530858
  • Imprint: Library of America
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 672

Moby-Dick




Captain Ahab is an eerily compelling madman who focuses his distilled hatred and suffering (and that of generations before him) into the pursuit of a creature as vast, dangerous and unknowable as the sea itself.

"A work tantalizingly subversive, and yet somehow if not affirming at least forgiving of the blind destructiveness of human nature and of nature itself."
-Elizabeth Hardwick Moby-Dick is one of the great epics of all literature. Captain Ahab's hunt for the white whale drives the narrative at a relentless pace, while Ishmael's mediations on whales and whaling, on the sublime indifference of nature, and on the grimy details of the extraction of oil provide a reflective counterpoint to the headlong idolatrous quest. Sometimes read as a terrifying study of monomania or a critical inquiry into the sinister effects of reducing life to symbols, Moby-Dick also offers colorful and often comic glimpses of sea-faring life.
For almost thirty years, The Library of America has presented America's best and most significant writing in acclaimed hardcover editions. Now, a new series, Library of America Paperback Classics, offers attractive and affordable books that bring The Library of America's authoritative texts within easy reach of every reader. Each book features an introductory essay by one of a leading writer, as well as a detailed chronology of the author's life and career, an essay on the choice and history of the text, and notes.
The contents of this Paperback Classic are drawn from Herman Melville: Redburn, White-Jacket, Moby-Dick, volume number 9 in the Library of America series. It is joined in the series by two companion volumes, and together they present Melville's complete fiction.

  • Pub date: 12 August 2010
  • ISBN: 9781598530858
  • Imprint: Library of America
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 672

About the Author

Herman Melville

Herman Melville was born on August 1, 1819, in New York City, the son of a merchant. Only twelve when his father died bankrupt, young Herman tried work as a bank clerk, as a cabin-boy on a trip to Liverpool, and as an elementary schoolteacher, before shipping in January 1841 on the whaler Acushnet, bound for the Pacific. Deserting ship the following year in the Marquesas, he made his way to Tahiti and Honolulu, returning as ordinary seaman on the frigate United States to Boston, where he was discharged in October 1844. Books based on these adventures won him immediate success. By 1850 he was married, had acquired a farm near Pittsfield, Massachussetts (where he was the impetuous friend and neighbor of Nathaniel Hawthorne), and was hard at work on his masterpiece Moby-Dick.

Literary success soon faded; his complexity increasingly alienated readers. After a visit to the Holy Land in January 1857, he turned from writing prose fiction to poetry. In 1863, during the Civil War, he moved back to New York City, where from 1866-1885 he was a deputy inspector in the Custom House, and where, in 1891, he died. A draft of a final prose work, Billy Budd, Sailor, was left unfinished and uncollated, packed tidily away by his widow, where it remained until its rediscovery and publication in 1924.

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