Feb 18, 2008

Moby Dick

I just finished listening to Moby Dick, by Herman Melville. It's available here free of charge. I thought the reader, though certainly not a professional, did quite well. He knew his pronunciation on all the myriad whaling terms, and clearly knew the work quite well. His Captain Ahab voice was my favorite--it became very familiar by the end.

I would say this book is half whaling textbook and half adventure novel. I kept thinking about how one would make a movie out of such a work, and my only conclusion is that half or more of the material would have to be discarded. It is a crazy work, weirder than I had imagined possible for such a highly-regarded work. Still, I liked it immensely.

Still, what a great story. Melville clearly had a passion for the subject, and the tale is well told, with excellent characters. The ship is almost a microcosm of the world, with an incredibly diverse crew, fairly treated by the author (for 1850, that is).

Ahab was my favorite character; perhaps a more sympathetic villain has never been created. The scene where he takes the insane boy Pip under his wing was incredibly moving. His final line, "From hell's heart I stab at thee" has echoed since it first appeared.

And what fantastic language! Melville was the finest writer of American Romanticism. I might have to check out Typee and Omoo now. We'll see.