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Moby Dick by Herman Melville

From 1001 books:

" Moby-Dick is often cited as the Great American Novel, the high watermark of the nineteenth-century imagination. A huge, monstrous, and yet exquisitely refined creation, it continues to confound, enthrall (and often defeat) generations of readers around the world. Narrated by Ishmael, a Massachussets schoolteacher who has forsaken his old life for the romance of the high seas, the novel chronicles the long sea voyage of the Pequod, a whaling ship led by the demonic Captain Ahab. Ahab is in search of the white whale that has robbed him of one of his legs. All other considerations (including the safety of his crew) become secondary to his monomaniacal quest. However, no summary can do justice to the breadth and complexity of Melville's novel. One can almost feel the book fighting with itself -- balancing the urge to linger, explore, and philosophize. Moby-Dick is a turbulent ocean of ideas, one of the great meditations on the shape and status of America -- on democracy, leadership, power, industrialism, labor, expansion, and nature. The Pequod and its diverse crew become a microcosm of American society. This revolutionary novel borrowed from a myriad of literary traditions, switching with astonishing ease between different bodies of knowledge. No one in American literature had written with such intensity and such ambition before. In Moby-Dick, one can find abstruse metaphysics, notes on the technicalities of dissecting a whale's foreskin, and searing passages of brine-soaked drama. Moby-Dick is an elegy, a political critique, an encyclopedia, and a ripping yarn. Just reading the novel constitutes an experience every bit as wondrous and exhausting as the journey it recounts."

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