Why Read Moby-Dick?

Why Read Moby-Dick?

Book - 2011
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Penguin Putnam

The New York Times bestselling author of seagoing epics now celebrates an American classic.

Moby-Dick is perhaps the greatest of the Great American Novels, yet its length and esoteric subject matter create an aura of difficulty that too often keeps readers at bay. Fortunately, one unabashed fan wants passionately to give Melville's masterpiece the broad contemporary audience it deserves. In his National Book Award- winning bestseller, In the Heart of the Sea, Nathaniel Philbrick captivatingly unpacked the story of the wreck of the whaleship Essex, the real-life incident that inspired Melville to write Moby- Dick. Now, he sets his sights on the fiction itself, offering a cabin master's tour of a spellbinding novel rich with adventure and history.

Philbrick skillfully navigates Melville's world and illuminates the book's humor and unforgettable characters-finding the thread that binds Ishmael and Ahab to our own time and, indeed, to all times. A perfect match between author and subject, Why Read Moby-Dick? gives us a renewed appreciation of both Melville and the proud seaman's town of Nantucket that Philbrick himself calls home. Like Alain de Botton's How Proust Can Change Your Life, this remarkable little book will start conversations, inspire arguments, and, best of all, bring a new wave of readers to a classic tale waiting to be discovered anew.

Baker & Taylor
Shares expert guidelines on how to read and appreciate Herman Melville's classic work, offering insight into its history, characters, and themes while explaining its literary relevance in the modern world.

& Taylor

The National Book Award-winning author of In the Heart of the Sea shares expert guidelines on how to read and appreciate Herman Melville's classic work, offering insight into its history, characters and themes while explaining its literary relevance in the modern world. 100,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Viking, 2011
ISBN: 9780670022991
Branch Call Number: 813.3 PHI
Characteristics: 131 p


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Jun 15, 2017

Make no mistake, this book is a masterpiece written about a masterpiece. His insights make reading Moby Dick deeper and even more pleasurable.

Jul 30, 2012

Read this on the side to reading Moby Dick and I am glad I did. No earth shaking revelations but and nice discussion of the things I enjoyed, myself. Worth the bother to read it.

Jul 21, 2012

Ranges from quaint to pedantic to obnoxiously superior. As if one needs the nudge from this New England nabob to read THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL ( sorry, Mr. Roth, it wasn't your's). The final insult is that either the author, his agent or the publisher feel justified in charging $25.00 for the privilege of reading Philbrick's keen insights, besides which the book should have been titled "Why Not Read Moby Dick?" Take the money you would have paid for this and spend half on a copy of MOBY-DICK and half on lunch.

Feb 25, 2012

Philbrick's book is a very short, easy read aimed at encouraging more people to the enjoy long, slow, laborious reading required to tackle Moby Dick. "Why Read Moby Dick" highlights the major themes of the novel, the language, poetry, and clarity of Melville's writing, and the historical context of the novel. I am not sure that Philbrick will accomplish what he sets out to do - get more people to ready Melville's classic but hefty tome. I am certain, however, that anyone who takes the time to read Moby Dick will certainly agree with Philbrick that the novel is well worth the effort.

Nov 04, 2011

I am fascinated to know what others think of Philbrick's new release. It's such a tiny nibble of a book. But I assume that's part of the plan. If you haven't read Moby-Dick it's (probably in part) because the books is long and heavy and requires a substantial commitment of thought and time, so maybe this is meant as an amuse-bouche to the greater meal it's encouraging you to enjoy?

If you haven't read Moby-Dick and you read Philbrick's new book, please share your thoughts. If you haven't read Philbrick's book, do pick it up. You'll finish it in about an hour (even if you have a preschooler in your house). I greatly enjoyed it, and really wanted more, but maybe that's just the point.


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