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The Pequod sails northeast toward Formosa and into the Pacific Ocean. Ahab, with one nostril, smells the musk from the Bashee isles, and with the other, the salt of the waters where Moby Dick swims.

Ahab goes to Perth, the blacksmith, with a bag of racehorse shoenail stubs to be forged into the shank of a special harpoon, and with his razors for Perth to melt and fashion into a harpoon barb.

Ahab tempers the barb in blood from Queequeg, Tashtego, and Daggoo. The Pequod gams next with the Bachelor , a Nantucket ship heading home full of sperm oil.

Every now and then, the Pequod lowers for whales with success. On one of those nights in the whaleboat, Fedallah prophesies that neither hearse nor coffin can be Ahab's, that before he dies, Ahab must see two hearses — one not made by mortal hands and the other made of American wood — that Fedallah will precede his captain in death, and finally that only hemp can kill Ahab.

As the Pequod approaches the Equator , Ahab scolds his quadrant for telling him only where he is and not where he will be. He dashes it to the deck.

That evening, an impressive typhoon attacks the ship. Lightning strikes the mast, setting the doubloon and Ahab's harpoon aglow. Ahab delivers a speech on the spirit of fire, seeing the lightning as a portent of Moby Dick.

Starbuck sees the lightning as a warning, and feels tempted to shoot the sleeping Ahab with a musket.

Next morning, when he finds that the lightning disoriented the compass, Ahab makes a new one out of a lance, a maul, and a sailmaker's needle.

He orders the log be heaved, but the weathered line snaps, leaving the ship with no way to fix its location. The Pequod is now heading southeast toward Moby Dick.

A man falls overboard from the mast. The life buoy is thrown, but both sink. Now Queequeg proposes that his superfluous coffin be used as a new life buoy.

Starbuck orders the carpenter to seal and waterproof it. Next morning, the ship meets in another truncated gam with the Rachel , commanded by Captain Gardiner from Nantucket.

The Rachel is seeking survivors from one of her whaleboats which had gone after Moby Dick. Among the missing is Gardiner's young son.

Ahab refuses to join the search. Twenty-four hours a day, Ahab now stands and walks the deck, while Fedallah shadows him.

Suddenly, a sea hawk grabs Ahab's slouched hat and flies off with it. Next, the Pequod , in a ninth and final gam, meets the Delight , badly damaged and with five of her crew left dead by Moby Dick.

Her captain shouts that the harpoon which can kill the white whale has yet to be forged, but Ahab flourishes his special lance and once more orders the ship forward.

Ahab shares a moment of contemplation with Starbuck. Ahab speaks about his wife and child, calls himself a fool for spending 40 years on whaling, and claims he can see his own child in Starbuck's eye.

Starbuck tries to persuade Ahab to return to Nantucket to meet both their families, but Ahab simply crosses the deck and stands near Fedallah.

On the first day of the chase, Ahab smells the whale, climbs the mast, and sights Moby Dick. He claims the doubloon for himself, and orders all boats to lower except for Starbuck's.

The whale bites Ahab's boat in two, tosses the captain out of it, and scatters the crew. On the second day of the chase, Ahab leaves Starbuck in charge of the Pequod.

Moby Dick smashes the three boats that seek him into splinters and tangles their lines. Ahab is rescued, but his ivory leg and Fedallah are lost.

Starbuck begs Ahab to desist, but Ahab vows to slay the white whale, even if he would have to dive through the globe itself to get his revenge.

On the third day of the chase, Ahab sights Moby Dick at noon, and sharks appear, as well. Ahab lowers his boat for a final time, leaving Starbuck again on board.

Moby Dick breaches and destroys two boats. Fedallah's corpse, still entangled in the fouled lines, is lashed to the whale's back, so Moby Dick turns out to be the hearse Fedallah prophesied.

Moby Dick smites the whaleboat, tossing its men into the sea. Only Ishmael is unable to return to the boat.

He is left behind in the sea, and so is the only crewman of the Pequod to survive the final encounter.

The whale now fatally attacks the Pequod. Ahab then realizes that the destroyed ship is the hearse made of American wood in Fedallah's prophecy.

The whale returns to Ahab, who stabs at him again. As he does so, the line gets tangled, and Ahab bends over to free it.

In doing so the line loops around Ahab's neck, and as the stricken whale swims away, the captain is drawn with him out of sight.

Queequeg's coffin comes to the surface, the only thing to escape the vortex when Pequod sank. For a day and a night, Ishmael floats on it, until the Rachel , still looking for its lost seamen, rescues him.

Ishmael is the narrator, shaping his story with use of many different genres including sermons, stage plays, soliloquies, and emblematical readings.

Narrator Ishmael, then, is "merely young Ishmael grown older. Bezanson warns readers to "resist any one-to-one equation of Melville and Ishmael.

According to critic Walter Bezanson, the chapter structure can be divided into "chapter sequences", "chapter clusters", and "balancing chapters".

The simplest sequences are of narrative progression, then sequences of theme such as the three chapters on whale painting, and sequences of structural similarity, such as the five dramatic chapters beginning with "The Quarter-Deck" or the four chapters beginning with "The Candles".

Chapter clusters are the chapters on the significance of the colour white, and those on the meaning of fire.

Balancing chapters are chapters of opposites, such as "Loomings" versus the "Epilogue," or similars, such as "The Quarter-Deck" and "The Candles".

Scholar Lawrence Buell describes the arrangement of the non-narrative chapters [note 1] as structured around three patterns: first, the nine meetings of the Pequod with ships that have encountered Moby Dick.

Each has been more and more severely damaged, foreshadowing the Pequod ' s own fate. Second, the increasingly impressive encounters with whales.

In the early encounters, the whaleboats hardly make contact; later there are false alarms and routine chases; finally, the massive assembling of whales at the edges of the China Sea in "The Grand Armada".

A typhoon near Japan sets the stage for Ahab's confrontation with Moby Dick. The third pattern is the cetological documentation, so lavish that it can be divided into two subpatterns.

These chapters start with the ancient history of whaling and a bibliographical classification of whales, getting closer with second-hand stories of the evil of whales in general and of Moby Dick in particular, a chronologically ordered commentary on pictures of whales.

The climax to this section is chapter 57, "Of whales in paint etc. The next chapter "Brit" , thus the other half of this pattern, begins with the book's first description of live whales, and next the anatomy of the sperm whale is studied, more or less from front to rear and from outer to inner parts, all the way down to the skeleton.

Two concluding chapters set forth the whale's evolution as a species and claim its eternal nature. Some "ten or more" of the chapters on whale killings, beginning at two-fifths of the book, are developed enough to be called "events".

As Bezanson writes, "in each case a killing provokes either a chapter sequence or a chapter cluster of cetological lore growing out of the circumstance of the particular killing," thus these killings are "structural occasions for ordering the whaling essays and sermons".

Bryant and Springer find that the book is structured around the two consciousnesses of Ahab and Ishmael, with Ahab as a force of linearity and Ishmael a force of digression.

And while the plot in Moby-Dick may be driven by Ahab's anger, Ishmael's desire to get a hold of the "ungraspable" accounts for the novel's lyricism.

One of the most distinctive features of the book is the variety of genres. Bezanson mentions sermons, dreams, travel account, autobiography, Elizabethan plays, and epic poetry.

A significant structural device is the series of nine meetings gams between the Pequod and other ships. These meetings are important in three ways.

First, their placement in the narrative. The initial two meetings and the last two are both close to each other.

The central group of five gams are separated by about 12 chapters, more or less. This pattern provides a structural element, remarks Bezanson, as if the encounters were "bones to the book's flesh".

Second, Ahab's developing responses to the meetings plot the "rising curve of his passion" and of his monomania.

Third, in contrast to Ahab, Ishmael interprets the significance of each ship individually: "each ship is a scroll which the narrator unrolls and reads.

Bezanson sees no single way to account for the meaning of all of these ships. Instead, they may be interpreted as "a group of metaphysical parables, a series of biblical analogues, a masque of the situation confronting man, a pageant of the humors within men, a parade of the nations, and so forth, as well as concrete and symbolic ways of thinking about the White Whale".

Scholar Nathalia Wright sees the meetings and the significance of the vessels along other lines. She singles out the four vessels which have already encountered Moby Dick.

The first, the Jeroboam , is named after the predecessor of the biblical King Ahab. Her "prophetic" fate is "a message of warning to all who follow, articulated by Gabriel and vindicated by the Samuel Enderby , the Rachel , the Delight , and at last the Pequod ".

None of the other ships has been completely destroyed because none of their captains shared Ahab's monomania; the fate of the Jeroboam reinforces the structural parallel between Ahab and his biblical namesake: "Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him" I Kings An early enthusiast for the Melville Revival, British author E.

Forster , remarked in " Moby-Dick is full of meanings: its meaning is a different problem. Biographer Laurie Robertson-Lorant sees epistemology as the book's theme.

Ishmael's taxonomy of whales merely demonstrates "the limitations of scientific knowledge and the impossibility of achieving certainty".

She also contrasts Ishmael and Ahab's attitudes toward life, with Ishmael's open-minded and meditative, "polypositional stance" as antithetical to Ahab's monomania, adhering to dogmatic rigidity.

Melville biographer Andrew Delbanco cites race as an example of this search for truth beneath surface differences. All races are represented among the crew members of the Pequod.

Although Ishmael initially is afraid of Queequeg as a tattooed cannibal, he soon decides, "Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian.

The theme of race is primarily carried by Pip, the diminutive black cabin boy. Reward for Pip! Editors Bryant and Springer suggest perception is a central theme, the difficulty of seeing and understanding, which makes deep reality hard to discover and truth hard to pin down.

Ahab explains that, like all things, the evil whale wears a disguise: "All visible objects, man, are but pasteboard masks" — and Ahab is determined to "strike through the mask!

How can the prisoner reach outside, except by thrusting through the wall? To me, the white whale is that wall" Ch. This theme pervades the novel, perhaps never so emphatically as in "The Doubloon" Ch.

Later, the American edition has Ahab "discover no sign" Ch. In fact, Moby Dick is then swimming up at him.

In the British edition, Melville changed the word "discover" to "perceive", and with good reason, for "discovery" means finding what is already there, but "perceiving", or better still, perception, is "a matter of shaping what exists by the way in which we see it".

Yet Melville does not offer easy solutions. Ishmael and Queequeg's sensual friendship initiates a kind of racial harmony that is shattered when the crew's dancing erupts into racial conflict in "Midnight, Forecastle" Ch.

Commodified and brutalized, "Pip becomes the ship's conscience". In Chapter 89, Ishmael expounds the concept of the fast-fish and the loose-fish, which gives right of ownership to those who take possession of an abandoned fish or ship, and observes that the British Empire took possession of American Indian lands in colonial times in just the way that whalers take possession of an unclaimed whale.

The novel has also been read as being critical of the contemporary literary and philosophical movement Transcendentalism , attacking the thought of leading Transcendentalist [30] Ralph Waldo Emerson in particular.

Richard Chase writes that for Melville, 'Death—spiritual, emotional, physical—is the price of self-reliance when it is pushed to the point of solipsism, where the world has no existence apart from the all-sufficient self.

Emerson loved to do, [suggested] the vital possibilities of the self. An incomplete inventory of the language of Moby-Dick by editors Bryant and Springer includes "nautical, biblical, Homeric, Shakespearean, Miltonic, cetological" influences, and his style is "alliterative, fanciful, colloquial, archaic, and unceasingly allusive": Melville tests and exhausts the possibilities of grammar, quotes from a range of well-known or obscure sources, and swings from calm prose to high rhetoric, technical exposition, seaman's slang, mystic speculation, or wild prophetic archaism.

Many words that make up the vocabulary of Moby-Dick are Melville's own coinages, critic Newton Arvin recognizes, as if the English vocabulary were too limited for the complex things Melville had to express.

Perhaps the most striking example is the use of verbal nouns, mostly plural, such as allurings , coincidings , and leewardings.

Equally abundant are unfamiliar adjectives and adverbs, including participial adjectives such as officered , omnitooled , and uncatastrophied ; participial adverbs such as intermixingly , postponedly , and uninterpenetratingly ; rarities such as the adjectives unsmoothable , spermy , and leviathanic , and adverbs such as sultanically , Spanishly , and Venetianly ; and adjectival compounds ranging from odd to magnificent, such as "the message-carrying air", "the circus-running sun", and " teeth-tiered sharks".

Arvin's categories have been slightly expanded by later critics, most notably Warner Berthoff. The superabundant vocabulary of the work can be broken down into strategies used individually and in combination.

First, the original modification of words as "Leviathanism" [38] and the exaggerated repetition of modified words, as in the series "pitiable", "pity", "pitied" and "piteous" Ch.

Characteristic stylistic elements of another kind are the echoes and overtones. His three most important sources, in order, are the Bible, Shakespeare, and Milton.

Another notable stylistic element are the several levels of rhetoric, the simplest of which is "a relatively straightforward expository style" that is evident of many passages in the cetological chapters, though they are "rarely sustained, and serve chiefly as transitions" between more sophisticated levels.

One of these is the " poetic " level of rhetoric, which Bezanson sees "well exemplified" in Ahab's quarter-deck monologue, to the point that it can be set as blank verse.

Examples of this are "the consistently excellent idiom" of Stubb, such as in the way he encourages the rowing crew in a rhythm of speech that suggests "the beat of the oars takes the place of the metronomic meter".

The fourth and final level of rhetoric is the composite , "a magnificent blending" of the first three and possible other elements:. The Nantucketer, he alone resides and riots on the sea; he alone, in Bible language, goes down to it in ships; to and fro ploughing it as his own special plantation.

There is his home; there lies his business, which a Noah's flood would not interrupt, though it overwhelmed all the millions in China. He lives on the sea, as prairie cocks in the prairie; he hides among the waves, he climbs them as chamois hunters climb the Alps.

For years he knows not the land; so that when he comes to it at last, it smells like another world, more strangely than the moon would to an Earthsman.

With the landless gull, that at sunset folds her wings and is rocked to sleep between billows; so at nightfall, the Nantucketer, out of sight of land, furls his sails, and lays him to his rest, while under his very pillow rush herds of walruses and whales.

This passage, from a chapter that Bezanson calls a comical "prose poem", blends "high and low with a relaxed assurance". Similar great passages include the "marvelous hymn to spiritual democracy" that can be found in the middle of "Knights and Squires".

The elaborate use of the Homeric simile may not have been learned from Homer himself, yet Matthiessen finds the writing "more consistently alive" on the Homeric than on the Shakespearean level, especially during the final chase the "controlled accumulation" of such similes emphasizes Ahab's hubris through a succession of land-images, for instance: "The ship tore on; leaving such a furrow in the sea as when a cannon-ball, missent, becomes a ploughshare and turns up the level field" "The Chase — Second Day," Ch.

For as the one ship that held them all; though it was put together of all contrasting things—oak, and maple, and pine wood; iron, and pitch, and hemp—yet all these ran into each other in the one concrete hull, which shot on its way, both balanced and directed by the long central keel; even so, all the individualities of the crew, this man's valor, that man's fear; guilt and guiltiness, all varieties were welded into oneness, and were all directed to that fatal goal which Ahab their one lord and keel did point to.

The final phrase fuses the two halves of the comparison, the men become identical with the ship, which follows Ahab's direction. The concentration only gives way to more imagery, with the "mastheads, like the tops of tall palms, were outspreadingly tufted with arms and legs".

All these images contribute their "startling energy" to the advance of the narrative. When the boats are lowered, the imagery serves to dwarf everything but Ahab's will in the presence of Moby Dick.

The influence of Shakespeare on the book was analyzed by F. Matthiessen in his study of the American Renaissance with such results that almost a half century later Bezanson still considered him "the richest critic on these matters.

On almost every page debts to Shakespeare can be discovered, whether hard or easy to recognize. Matthiessen points out that the "mere sounds, full of Leviathanism, but signifying nothing" at the end of "Cetology" Ch.

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The word in the example sentence does not match the entry word. The sentence contains offensive content. Cancel Submit.

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More by bab. Significantly, Reynolds writes a first-person narration that serves as a frame for the story of a whaling captain he meets.

The captain resembles Ahab and suggests a similar symbolism and single-minded motivation in hunting this whale, in that when his crew first encounters Mocha Dick and cowers from him, the captain rallies them:.

As he drew near, with his long curved back looming occasionally above the surface of the billows, we perceived that it was white as the surf around him; and the men stared aghast at each other, as they uttered, in a suppressed tone, the terrible name of MOCHA DICK!

Mocha Dick had over encounters with whalers in the decades between and the s. He was described as being gigantic and covered in barnacles.

Although he was the most famous, Mocha Dick was not the only white whale in the sea, nor the only whale to attack hunters. Melville remarked, "Ye Gods!

What a commentator is this Ann Alexander whale. I wonder if my evil art has raised this monster. While Melville had already drawn on his different sailing experiences in his previous novels, such as Mardi , he had never focused specifically on whaling.

The 18 months he spent as an ordinary seaman aboard the whaler Acushnet in —42, and one incident in particular, now served as inspiration.

During a mid-ocean "gam" rendezvous at sea between ships , he met Chase's son William, who lent him his father's book. Melville later wrote:.

I questioned him concerning his father's adventure; This was the first printed account of it I had ever seen. The reading of this wondrous story on the landless sea, and so close to the very latitude of the shipwreck, had a surprising effect upon me.

The book was out of print, and rare. Melville let his interest in the book be known to his father-in-law, Lemuel Shaw , whose friend in Nantucket procured an imperfect but clean copy which Shaw gave to Melville in April Melville read this copy avidly, made copious notes in it, and had it bound, keeping it in his library for the rest of his life.

Moby-Dick contains large sections—most of them narrated by Ishmael—that seemingly have nothing to do with the plot, but describe aspects of the whaling business.

Hart , [80] which is credited with influencing elements of Melville's work, most accounts of whaling tended to be sensational tales of bloody mutiny, and Melville believed that no book up to that time had portrayed the whaling industry in as fascinating or immediate a way as he had experienced it.

Melville found the bulk of his data on whales and whaling in five books, the most important of which was by the English ship's surgeon Thomas Beale, Natural History of the Sperm Whale , a book of reputed authority which Melville bought on July 10, Vincent, the general influence of this source is to supply the arrangement of whaling data in chapter groupings.

The third book was the one Melville reviewed for the Literary World in , J. Ross Browne's Etchings of a Whaling Cruise , which may have given Melville the first thought for a whaling book, and in any case contains passages embarrassingly similar to passages in Moby-Dick.

Cheever's The Whale and His Captors , was used for two episodes in Moby-Dick but probably appeared too late in the writing of the novel to be of much more use.

Although the book became the standard whaling reference soon after publication, Melville satirized and parodied it on several occasions—for instance in the description of narwhales in the chapter "Cetology", where he called Scoresby "Charley Coffin" and gave his account "a humorous twist of fact": "Scoresby will help out Melville several times, and on each occasion Melville will satirize him under a pseudonym.

Scholars have concluded that Melville composed Moby-Dick in two or even three stages. Yet I mean to give the truth of the thing, spite of this.

Bezanson objects that the letter contains too many ambiguities to assume "that Dana's 'suggestion' would obviously be that Melville do for whaling what he had done for life on a man-of-war in White-Jacket ".

The most positive statements are that it will be a strange sort of a book and that Melville means to give the truth of the thing, but what thing exactly is not clear.

Melville may have found the plot before writing or developed it after the writing process was underway. Considering his elaborate use of sources, "it is safe to say" that they helped him shape the narrative, its plot included.

Ishmael, in the early chapters, is simply the narrator, just as the narrators in Melville's earlier sea adventures had been, but in later chapters becomes a mystical stage manager who is central to the tragedy.

Less than two months after mentioning the project to Dana, Melville reported in a letter of June 27 to Richard Bentley, his English publisher:.

My Dear Sir, — In the latter part of the coming autumn I shall have ready a new work; and I write you now to propose its publication in England.

Nathaniel Hawthorne and his family had moved to a small red farmhouse near Lenox, Massachusetts , at the end of March The most intense work on the book was done during the winter of —, when Melville had changed the noise of New York City for a farm in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

The move may well have delayed finishing the book. Yet, altogether, write the other way I cannot. So the product is a final hash, and all my books are botches.

This is the stubborn Melville who stood by Mardi and talked about his other, more commercial books with contempt.

The letter also reveals how Melville experienced his development from his 25th year: "Three weeks have scarcely passed, at any time between then and now, that I have not unfolded within myself.

But I feel that I am now come to the inmost leaf of the bulb, and that shortly the flower must fall to the mould. Buell finds the evidence that Melville changed his ambitions during writing "on the whole convincing", since the impact of Shakespeare and Hawthorne was "surely monumental", [88] but others challenge the theories of the composition in three ways.

The first raises objections on the use of evidence and the evidence itself. Bryant finds "little concrete evidence, and nothing at all conclusive, to show that Melville radically altered the structure or conception of the book".

Bryant and Springer object to the conclusion that Hawthorne inspired Melville to write Ahab's tragic obsession into the book; Melville already had experienced other encounters which could just as well have triggered his imagination, such as the Bible's Jonah and Job, Milton's Satan, Shakespeare's King Lear, Byron's heroes.

His language is already "richly steeped in 17th-century mannerisms", characteristics of Moby-Dick. A third type calls upon the literary nature of passages used as evidence.

According to Milder, the cetological chapters cannot be leftovers from an earlier stage of composition and any theory that they are "will eventually founder on the stubborn meaningfulness of these chapters", because no scholar adhering to the theory has yet explained how these chapters "can bear intimate thematic relation to a symbolic story not yet conceived".

Buell finds that theories based on a combination of selected passages from letters and what are perceived as "loose ends" in the book not only "tend to dissolve into guesswork", but he also suggests that these so-called loose ends may be intended by the author: repeatedly the book mentions "the necessary unfinishedness of immense endeavors".

Melville first proposed the British publication in a June 27, letter to Richard Bentley , London publisher of his earlier works. Textual scholar G.

Thomas Tanselle explains that for these earlier books, American proof sheets had been sent to the British publisher and that publication in the United States had been held off until the work had been set in type and published in England.

This procedure was intended to provide the best though still uncertain claim for the UK copyright of an American work.

The final stages of composition overlapped with the early stages of publication. In June , Melville wrote to Hawthorne that he was in New York to "work and slave on my 'Whale' while it is driving through the press".

Three weeks later, the typesetting was almost done, as he announced to Bentley on July "I am now passing thro' the press, the closing sheets of my new work".

Since earlier chapters were already plated when he was revising the later ones, Melville must have "felt restricted in the kinds of revisions that were feasible".

On July 20, Melville accepted, after which Bentley drew up a contract on August For over a month, these proofs had been in Melville's possession, and because the book would be set anew in London he could devote all his time to correcting and revising them.

He still had no American publisher, so the usual hurry about getting the British publication to precede the American was not present.

He published the book less than four weeks later. The title of a new work by Mr. Melville, in the press of Harper and Brothers, and now publishing in London by Mr.

On October 18, the British edition, The Whale , was published in a printing of only copies, [] fewer than Melville's previous books.

Their slow sales had convinced Bentley that a smaller number was more realistic. The London Morning Herald on October 20 printed the earliest known review.

On November 19, Washington received the copy to be deposited for copyright purposes. The first American printing of 2, copies was almost the same as the first of Mardi , but the first printing of Melville's other three Harper books had been a thousand copies more.

The British edition, set by Bentley's printers from the American page proofs with Melville's revisions and corrections, differs from the American edition in over wordings and thousands of punctuation and spelling changes.

Excluding the preliminaries and the one extract, the three volumes of the British edition came to pages [] and the single American volume to pages.

This list was probably drawn up by Melville himself: the titles of chapters describing encounters of the Pequod with other ships had—apparently to stress the parallelisms between these chapters—been standardized to "The Pequod meets the For unknown reasons, the "Etymology" and "Extracts" were moved to the end of the third volume.

Melville's involvement with this rearrangement is not clear: if it was Bentley's gesture toward accommodating Melville, as Tanselle suggests, [] its selection put an emphasis on the quotation Melville might not have agreed with.

The largest of Melville's revisions is the addition to the British edition of a word footnote in Chapter 87 explaining the word "gally".

The edition also contains six short phrases and some 60 single words lacking in the American edition.

The British publisher hired one or more revisers who were, in the evaluation of scholar Steven Olsen-Smith, responsible for "unauthorized changes ranging from typographical errors and omissions to acts of outright censorship".

These expurgations also meant that any corrections or revisions Melville had marked upon these passages are now lost.

The final difference in the material not already plated is that the "Epilogue", thus Ishmael's miraculous survival, is omitted from the British edition.

Obviously, the epilogue was not an afterthought supplied too late for the edition, for it is referred to in "The Castaway": "in the sequel of the narrative, it will then be seen what like abandonment befell myself.

Since nothing objectionable was in it, most likely it was somehow lost by Bentley's printer when the "Etymology" and "Extracts" were moved.

After the sheets had been sent, Melville changed the title. After expressing his hope that Bentley would receive this change in time, Allan said that "Moby-Dick is a legitimate title for the book, being the name given to a particular whale who if I may so express myself is the hero of the volume".

Changing the title was not a problem for the American edition, since the running heads throughout the book only showed the titles of the chapters, and the title page, which would include the publisher's name, could not be printed until a publisher was found.

When Allan's letter arrived, no sooner than early October, Bentley had already announced The Whale in both the Athenaem and the Spectator of October 4 and The British printing of copies sold fewer than within the first four months.

In , some remaining sheets were bound in a cheaper casing, and in , enough sheets were still left to issue a cheap edition in one volume.

About 1, copies were sold within 11 days, and then sales slowed down to less than the next year. After three years, the first edition was still available, almost copies of which were lost when a fire broke out at the firm in December In , a second printing of copies was issued, in , a third of copies, and finally in , a fourth printing of copies, which sold so slowly that no new printing was ordered.

First, British literary criticism was more sophisticated and developed than in the still-young republic, with British reviewing done by "cadres of brilliant literary people" [] who were "experienced critics and trenchant prose stylists", [] while the United States had only "a handful of reviewers" capable enough to be called critics, and American editors and reviewers habitually echoed British opinion.

Twenty-one reviews appeared in London, and later one in Dublin. Melville himself never saw these reviews, and Parker calls it a "bitter irony" that the reception overseas was "all he could possibly have hoped for, short of a few conspicuous proclamations that the distance between him and Shakespeare was by no means immeasurable.

One of the earliest reviews, by the extremely conservative critic Henry Chorley [] in the highly regarded London Athenaeum , described it as.

The idea of a connected and collected story has obviously visited and abandoned its writer again and again in the course of composition.

The style of his tale is in places disfigured by mad rather than bad English; and its catastrophe is hastily, weakly, and obscurely managed.

Melville cannot do without savages, so he makes half of his dramatis personae wild Indians, Malays, and other untamed humanities", who appeared in "an odd book, professing to be a novel; wantonly eccentric, outrageously bombastic; in places charmingly and vividly descriptive".

Because the English edition omitted the epilogue describing Ishmael's escape, British reviewers read a book with a first-person narrator who apparently did not survive.

Other reviewers accepted the flaws they perceived. John Bull praised the author for making literature out of unlikely and even unattractive matter, and the Morning Post found that delight far outstripped the improbable character of events.

Melville's style was often praised, although some found it excessive or too American. Some sixty reviews appeared in America, the criterion for counting as a review being more than two lines of comment.

The earliest American review, in the Boston Post for November 20, quoted the London Athenaeum ' s scornful review, not realizing that some of the criticism of The Whale did not pertain to Moby-Dick.

This last point, and the authority and influence of British criticism in American reviewing, is clear from the review's opening: "We have read nearly one half of this book, and are satisfied that the London Athenaeum is right in calling it 'an ill-compounded mixture of romance and matter-of-fact'".

The Post deemed the price of one dollar and fifty cents far too much: "'The Whale' is not worth the money asked for it, either as a literary work or as a mass of printed paper".

The reviewer of the December New York Eclectic Magazine had actually read Moby-Dick in full, and was puzzled why the Athenaeum was so scornful of the ending.

The attack on The Whale by the Spectator was reprinted in the December New York International Magazine , which inaugurated the influence of another unfavorable review.

Rounding off what American readers were told about the British reception, in January Harper's Monthly Magazine attempted some damage control, and wrote that the book had "excited a general interest" among the London magazines.

The most influential American review, ranked according to the number of references to it, appeared in the weekly magazine Literary World , which had printed Melville's "Mosses" essay the preceding year.

The author of the unsigned review in two installments, on November 15 and 22, was later identified as publisher Evert Duyckinck.

In the second installment, Duyckinck described Moby-Dick as three books rolled into one: he was pleased with the book as far as it was a thorough account of the sperm whale, less so with it as far as the adventures of the Pequod crew were considered, perceiving the characters as unrealistic and expressing inappropriate opinions on religions, and condemned the essayistic rhapsodizing and moralizing with what he thought was little respect of what "must be to the world the most sacred associations of life violated and defaced.

What a book Melville has written! It gives me an idea of much greater power than his preceding ones. It hardly seemed to me that the review of it, in the Literary World, did justice to its best points.

The Transcendental socialist George Ripley published a review in the New York Tribune for November 22, in which he compared the book favorably to Mardi , because the "occasional touches of the subtle mysticism" was not carried on to excess but kept within boundaries by the solid realism of the whaling context.

Melville's friend Nathaniel Parker Willis, reviewing the book in November 29 Home Journal , found it "a very racy, spirited, curious and entertaining book Porter praised the book, and all of Melville's five earlier works, as the writings "of a man who is at once philosopher, painter, and poet".

Many reviewers, Parker observes, had come to the conclusion that Melville was capable of producing enjoyable romances, but they could not see in him the author of great literature.

However, only New York's literary underground showed interest, just enough to keep Melville's name circulating for the next 25 years in the capital of American publishing.

During this time, a few critics were willing to devote time, space, and a modicum of praise to Melville and his works, or at least those that could still be easily obtained or remembered.

Other works, especially the poetry, went largely forgotten. In his idiosyncratic but influential Studies in Classic American Literature , novelist, poet, and short story writer D.

Lawrence celebrated the originality and value of American authors, among them Melville. Perhaps surprisingly, Lawrence saw Moby-Dick as a work of the first order despite his using the expurgated original English edition which also lacked the epilogue.

The Modern Library brought out Moby-Dick in and the Lakeside Press in Chicago commissioned Rockwell Kent to design and illustrate a striking three-volume edition which appeared in Random House then issued a one-volume trade version of Kent's edition, which in they reprinted as a less expensive Modern Library Giant.

The novel has been adapted or represented in art, film, books, cartoons, television, and more than a dozen versions in comic-book format.

American author Ralph Ellison wrote a tribute to the book in the prologue of his novel Invisible Man. The narrator remembers a moment of truth under the influence of marijuana and evokes a church service: "Brothers and sisters, my text this morning is the 'Blackness of Blackness.

Dylan's description ends with an acknowledgment: "That theme, and all that it implies, would work its way into more than a few of my songs.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Moby Dick disambiguation. Dewey Decimal. This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed.

Please help improve it by removing unnecessary details and making it more concise. April Learn how and when to remove this template message.

See also: List of Moby-Dick characters. Main article: Adaptations of Moby-Dick. Together, they constitute about one fifth of the number of chapters.

College Literature. The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms 4th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

From Puritanism to Postmodernism. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

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