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Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is a novel by Herman Melville, first published in 1851. It is considered to be one of the Great American Novels. The story tells the adventures of wandering sailor Ishmael, and his voyage on the whaleship Pequod, commanded by Captain Ahab. Ishmael soon learns that Ahab has one purpose on this voyage: to seek out Moby Dick, a ferocious, enigmatic white sperm whale. In a previous encounter, the whale destroyed Ahab's boat and bit off his leg, which now drives Ahab to take revenge.
In Moby-Dick, Melville employs stylized language, symbolism, and metaphor to explore numerous complex themes. Through the journey of the main characters, the concepts of class and social status, good and evil, and the existence of God are all examined, as the main characters speculate upon their personal beliefs and their places in the universe. The narrator's reflections, along with his descriptions of a sailor's life aboard a whaling ship, are woven into the narrative along with Shakespearean literary devices, such as stage directions, extended soliloquies, and asides. The book portrays destructive obsession and monomania, as well as the assumption of anthropomorphism.
The great white resurfaces in this gripping, comic book style retelling. Comic-strip veterans Schwartz and Giordano condense Melville's leviathan tale into an action-packed, 48-page adventure. Despite forgoing Melville's "Call me Ishmael" first-person narrative and sensory details, this retelling closely adheres to the original plot, including some pivotal scenes absent from Allan Drummond's spare but entertaining 1997 Moby Dick. The dense story clips along, thanks to concise but appealingly hammy storytelling and melodramatic drawings, plus multiple panels that quicken the pace. When Ishmael meets Queequeg, for instance, the author squeezes out every drop of suspense: "There in the dimly lit room looms the forbidding image of Queequeg... harpoon at the ready, poised to sink its sharp head into his shaking body!!" Giordano ratchets up the tension with a series of close-ups of Ishmael's terrified face as he awakens to the "savage" in his rented room. The brooding, dark-toned panels exude imminent danger an ideal milieu for Captain Ahab's doomed voyage. The book also provides a brief biography of Melville, as well as facts about whaling and New Bedford, Mass., the city that commissioned this retelling in celebration of the 150th anniversary (in 2001) of Moby Dick's original publication. Ages 8-up.