It would be fair to call this book at par with the likes of ‘Treasure Island’. I read the abridged version when I was 8, eventually read it again and again in full, in high school. At every age that I read it, it presented new insights, new depth, and drama. There were immense undertones to every scene, sometimes every dialogue.
The story tells the adventures of the wandering sailor Ishmael, and his voyage on the whaleship ‘Pequod’, commanded by Captain Ahab. Ishmael soon learns that Ahab seeks one specific whale: Moby Dick, a ferocious, enigmatic white sperm whale. In a previous encounter, the whale destroyed Ahab’s boat and bit off his leg. Ahab intends to take revenge. The story is based on the actual events around the whaleship Essex, which was attacked by a sperm whale while at sea and sank.
These characters on-board the Pequod are in the prime of their lives, they can be ruthless at their focus. Yet, there are kinder, softer moments, replete with the bonhomie that can only exist amongst sailors. When I was eight, it was all my folks could do to keep me from setting off sailing, back-pack and all. Sigh… perhaps if I were born a strong lad in the times of Herman Melville… I would have set sail too! The unabridged version of the book might be a little tedious to read at first, but trust me, if you have skimmed through the abridged, you’ll be glued.
Quote: Ahab’s last words: “Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee. Sink all coffins and all hearses to one common pool! And since neither can be mine, let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee, though tied to thee, thou damned whale! Thus, I give up the spear!”