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Few things, even in literature, can really be said to be unique — but Moby Dick is truly unlike anything written before or since. The novel is nominally about the obsessive hunt by the crazed Captain Ahab of the book’s eponymous white whale. But interspersed in that story are digressions, paradoxes, philosophical riffs on whaling and life, and a display of techniques so advanced for its time that some have referred to the 1851 Moby Dick as the first “modern” novel.
Moby-Dick, Herman Melville's 1851 novel, tells the story of obsessed Captain Ahab’s quest for revenge on the White Whale as observed by a common seaman who identifies himself only as Ishmael. In the past century and a half, this novel has achieved legendary status. Moby-Dick is probably second only to War and Peace as a cultural byword for a long, difficult book that unnerves even the most gung-ho readers with its web of digressions and literary and cultural references.

When the novel was first published, reviewers and readers alike were, at best, puzzled by its density and, at worst, offended by its religious and sexual allusions. It was the so-called "Melville Revival" of the early twentieth century that placed Moby-Dick on every critic’s short list of great American novels (or great novels from any culture, for that matter). Even those who’ve never read a word of Moby-Dick often recognize the book’s famous first line, "Call me Ishmael," or the plot device of an insane quest for vengeance on an aspect of the natural world.

Moby-Dick has been referenced in popular culture throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, showing up in everything from a Led Zeppelin song to The Simpsons to Star Trek. There are many different adaptations of Moby-Dick in a variety of genres, most notably a 1956 film starring Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab and a 1998 TV miniseries with Patrick Stewart in the same role. Both these adaptations get a bad rap because they can’t reproduce the language and structure of Melville’s novel. In fact, there’s really no substitute for this book, and reading it can make a whole new side of American culture visible.
(+++ Including hyperlinked explanatory notes within the ebook-optimized text, introductions by leading authorities, and a wealth of other valuable material +++)

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