Why should you read “Moby Dick”? - Sascha Morrell
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The New Bedford Whaling Museum has links to a variety of excellent resources on the life and work of Herman Melville and whaling history, which can be found here.
The museum partners with the Melville Society Culture Project to host an annual marathon reading of Moby-Dick. You can also hear Moby-Dick read aloud by a range of celebrity readers, from David Attenborough to Tilda Swinton, in The Moby-Dick Big Read.
To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Herman Melville’s birth, the New Yorker offered an informative biography and overview of Melville’s career.
The article discusses Arrowhead, Melville’s country estate in the Berkshires, which is now open to the public as a museum. See the Berkshire Historical Society website.
Moby-Dick’s narrator Ishmael is fascinated by science, but cetacean science has come a long way since Melville was writing. For more up to date information on the natural history of the sperm whale, see this page from the International Whaling Commission.
Melville’s science might be out of date, but many commentators have read Moby-Dick as a prophetic text, which anticipates some of the major conflicts of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In this Guardian article, Phillip Hoare argues that Moby-Dick is “the novel for our times”:
As Hoare’s article suggests, Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick is often cited as an example of the “Great American Novel”, a term referring to those novels which achieve artistic greatness while addressing fundamental questions about what it means to be (U.S.) American. For an overview of this concept, see Lawrence Buell’s recent study: Lawrence Buell's The Great American Novel
Moby-Dick is full of vivid descriptions, on the most minute and the grandest scales. A number of brave artists have attempted to illustrate the novel. For an overview of their efforts, see this page.
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