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“Drink Ye Harpooners! Death to Moby Dick!”
With that fateful cry, Captain Ahab drags his crew to fulfill his insane obsession: the destruction of the great White Whale known as Moby Dick.
To Captain Ahab, the creature that took his leg is not just a whale; it is the embodiment of pure evil.
Brimming with powerful imagery and symbolism, its intensity sustained by roguish irony and moments of exquisite beauty, Melville's masterpiece is both a great American epic and one of the most profoundly imaginative creations in literary history. It has thrilled readers for over one hundred years.
“Certainly it is hard to find a more wonderful book than Moby Dick, and it ought to be read by this generation, amid whose feeble mental food, furnished by the small realists and fantasts of the day, it would appear as Hercules among the pygmies, or as Moby Dick himself among a school of minnows.”
—SPRINGFIELD MASSACHUSETTS REPUBLICAN
* Contains extended historical context and a critical essay: Herman Melville: Living Life in Reverse. A Cultural and Historical Perspective of the author’s life, by Emily Whitson Barzumi
HERMAN MELVILLE (1819–1891) was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, poet, sailor, and customs inspector. The author of numerous classic novels, essays, and short stories, he is perhaps best known for Moby Dick, Typee, The Confidence Man, Redburn, Clarel, Bartleby, the Scrivener, and Billy Budd. He is considered a literary colossus, and a central figure in the development of the modern novel.
Note to children: this is not Melville's Moby Dick. Drummond (The Willow Pattern Story) has transformed the tome of American Lit into a quick-reading, kid-friendly whale of a tale. His inviting approach (which emanates from his obvious love for the story) involves ruthless editing and nonthreatening visuals. He uses pen and pale washes of color (punctuated by just enough red whale gore to suggest the seriousness of the sport) in a cartoonish style and conversation bubbles with handwritten contents to cleverly convey the episodic quality of the text. Ishmael narrates the story here, too, and chapter headings for each spread aid the story's clarity and momentum. Amazingly, the plot is complete in these 32 pages and includes many of the most fascinating details of the mechanics of whaling. Although some children may have trouble with some of the more adult themes (the fact that this is a revenge mission for Ahab, Queequeg builds himself a coffin and only Ishmael survives), whale and sea lovers will learn a great deal (especially in the concluding author's note). By cagily approaching this classic with a light, non-reverential touch, Drummond may predispose a new generation of readers toward experiencing the original work (that they might otherwise only encounter only in Cliffs Notes). Ages 5-up.