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              A picture for the book Moby-Dick; or, The Whale

              Moby-Dick; or, The Whale


              Moby-Dick, written in 1851, recounts the adventures of the narrator Ishmael as he sails on the whaling ship, Pequod, under the command of the monomaniacal Captain Ahab. Melville dedicated the book to fellow Dark Romantic, Nathaniel Hawthorne: "In token of my admiration for his genius, this book is inscribed to Nathaniel Hawthorne."
              [Teachers and students may find useful our Moby-Dick Study Guide. We also offer a short story version of the chapter, The Chase for your convenience.]

              Ishmael believes he has signed onto a routine commission aboard a normal whaling vessel, but he soon learns that Captain Ahab is not guiding the Pequod in the simple pursuit of commerce but is seeking one specific whale, Moby-Dick, a great white whale infamous for his giant size and his ability to destroy the whalers that seek him. Captain Ahab's wooden leg is the result of his first encounter with the whale, when he lost both leg and ship. After the ship sails it becomes clear that Captain Ahab is bent on revenge and he intends to get Moby-Dick.

              Ahab demonstrates erratic behavior from the very beginning and his eccentricities magnify as the voyage progresses. As the novel draws to a conclusion, the Pequod encounters the whaling ship Rachel. The Rachel's captain asks Ahab to help him in a search and rescue effort for his whaling-crew that went missing the day before -- and the captain's son is among the missing. But when Ahab learns that the crew disappeared while tangling with Moby-Dick he refuses the call to aid in the rescue so that he may hunt Moby-Dick instead.

              Moby-Dick coverThe encounter with Moby-Dick brings a tragic end to the affair. Ishmael alone survives, using his friend Queequeg's coffin as a flotation device until he is ironically rescued by the Rachel which has continued to search for its missing crew.

              Readers, teachers and students should also take note of a peculiar historical curiosity. After enjoying some success in the 1840s, the publication of Moby-Dick (1851) marked Melville's decline as a popular writer. He was unable to support himself as a writer and accepted a job at the New York Customs House. He continued to write, even as he faded into obscurity, turning to poetry in his later years. He published his poems but they were ignored and went unread. Like his novel about the great white whale, his poems are also esteemed by modern critics and scholars.

              It was only in the early 1900s that Moby-Dick gained attention and acclaim. During his lifetime, the novel sold a scant 3,000 copies. In modern times the novel is not only considered a great American classic, it is also heralded as one of greatest novels in the English language. Featured in our collection of 25 Great American Novels.

              I hope you enjoy reading it.

              Teachers and students looking for further summary and analysis might wish to read D. H. Lawrence's chapter on Moby-Dick from his book Studies in Classic American Literature.

              Moby-Dick jaws


              ETYMOLOGY

              Chapter 1 - Loomings

              Chapter 2 - The Carpet-Bag

              Chapter 3 - The Spouter Inn

              Chapter 4 - The Counterpane

              Chapter 5 - Breakfast

              Chapter 6 - The Street

              Chapter 7 - The Chapel

              Chapter 8 - The Pulpit

              Chapter 9 - The Sermon

              Chapter 10 - A Bosom Friend

              Chapter 11 - Nightgown

              Chapter 12 - Biographical

              Chapter 13 - Wheelbarrow

              Chapter 14 - Nantucket

              Chapter 15 - Chowder

              Chapter 16 - The Ship

              Chapter 17 - The Ramadan

              Chapter 18 - His Mark

              Chapter 19 - The Prophet

              Chapter 20 - All Astir

              Chapter 21 - Going Aboard

              Chapter 22 - Merry Christmas

              Chapter 23 - The Lee Shore

              Chapter 24 - The Advocate

              Chapter 25 - Postscript

              Chapter 26 - Knights and Squires

              Chapter 27 - Knights and Squires

              Chapter 28 - Ahab

              Chapter 29 - Enter Ahab; to Him, Stubb

              Chapter 30 - The Pipe

              Chapter 31 - Queen Mab

              Chapter 32 - Cetology

              Chapter 33 - The Specksynder

              Chapter 34 - The Cabin-Table

              Chapter 35 - The Mast-Head

              Chapter 36 - The Quarter-Deck

              Chapter 37 - Sunset

              Chapter 38 - Dusk

              Chapter 39 - First Night-Watch

              Chapter 40 - Midnight, Forecastle

              Chapter 41 - Moby Dick

              Chapter 42 - The Whiteness of The Whale

              Chapter 43 - Hark!

              Chapter 44 - The Chart

              Chapter 45 - The Affidavit

              Chapter 46 - Surmises

              Chapter 47 - The Mat-Maker

              Chapter 48 - The First Lowering

              Chapter 49 - The Hyena

              Chapter 50 - Ahab's Boat and Crew. Fedallah

              Chapter 51 - The Spirit-Spout

              Chapter 52 - The Albatross

              Chapter 53 - The Gam

              Chapter 54 - The Town-Ho's Story

              Chapter 55 - Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales

              Chapter 56 - Of the Less Erroneous Pictures of Whales and the True Pictures of Whaling Scenes

              Chapter 57 - Of Whales in Paint; in Teeth; in Wood; in Sheet-Iron; in Stone; in Mountains; in Stars

              Chapter 58 - Brit

              Chapter 59 - Squid

              Chapter 60 - The Line

              Chapter 61 - Stubb Kills a Whale

              Chapter 62 - The Dart

              Chapter 63 - The Crotch

              Chapter 64 - Stubb's Supper

              Chapter 65 - The Whale as a Dish

              Chapter 66 - The Shark Massacre

              Chapter 67 - Cutting In

              Chapter 68 - The Blanket

              Chapter 69 - The Funeral

              Chapter 70 - The Sphynx

              Chapter 71 - The Jeroboam's Story

              Chapter 72 - The Monkey-Rope

              Chapter 73 - Stubb and Flask Kill a Right Whale and Then Have a Talk Over Him

              Chapter 74 - The Sperm Whale's Head - Contrasted View

              Chapter 75 - The Right Whale's Head - Contrasted View

              Chapter 76 - The Battering-Ram

              Chapter 77 - The Great Heidelburgh Tun

              Chapter 78 - Cistern and Buckets

              Chapter 79 - The Prairie

              Chapter 80 - The Nut

              Chapter 81 - The Pequod Meets The Virgin

              Chapter 82 - The Honor and Glory of Whaling

              Chapter 83 - Jonah Historically Regarded

              Chapter 84 - Pitchpoling

              Chapter 85 - The Fountain

              Chapter 86 - The Tail

              Chapter 87 - The Grand Armada

              Chapter 88 - Schools and Schoolmasters

              Chapter 89 - Fast-Fish and Loose-Fish

              Chapter 90 - Heads or Tails

              Chapter 91 - The Pequod Meets The Rose-Bud

              Chapter 92 - Ambergris

              Chapter 93 - The Castaway

              Chapter 94 - A Squeeze of the Hand

              Chapter 95 - The Cassock

              Chapter 96 - The Try-Works

              Chapter 97 - The Lamp

              Chapter 98 - Stowing Down and Clearing Up

              Chapter 99 - The Doubloon

              Chapter 100 - Leg and Arm. The Pequod of Nantucket, Meets the Samuel Enderby, of London

              Chapter 101 - The Decanter

              Chapter 102 - A Bower in the Arsacides

              Chapter 103 - Measurement of The Whale's Skeleton

              Chapter 104 - The Fossil Whale

              Chapter 105 - Does the Whale's Magnitude Diminish? - Will He Perish?

              Chapter 106 - Ahab's Leg

              Chapter 107 - The Carpenter

              Chapter 108 - Ahab and the Carpenter

              Chapter 109 - Ahab and Starbuck in the Cabin

              Chapter 110 - Queequeg in His Coffin

              Chapter 111 - The Pacific

              Chapter 112 - The Blacksmith

              Chapter 113 - The Forge

              Chapter 114 - The Gilder

              Chapter 115 - The Pequod Meets The Bachelor

              Chapter 116 - The Dying Whale

              Chapter 117 - The Whale Watch

              Chapter 118 - The Quadrant

              Chapter 119 - The Candles

              Chapter 120 - The Deck Toward the End of the First Night Watch

              Chapter 121 - Midnight - The Forecastle Bulwarks

              Chapter 122 - Midnight Aloft.- Thunder and Lightning

              Chapter 123 - The Musket

              Chapter 124 - The Needle

              Chapter 125 - The Log and Line

              Chapter 126 - The Life-Buoy

              Chapter 127 - The Deck

              Chapter 128 - The Pequod Meets The Rachel

              Chapter 129 - The Cabin

              Chapter 130 - The Hat

              Chapter 131 - The Pequod Meets The Delight

              Chapter 132 - The Symphony

              Chapter 133 - The Chase - First Day

              Chapter 134 - The Chase - Second Day

              Chapter 135 - The Chase - Third Day

              Epilogue

              Return to the Herman Melville library.
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