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Moby-Dick: Or the Whale


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Herman Melville was born in 1819 in New York City. Both his grandfathers were Revolutionary War heroes but his father, a merchant, died bankrupt in 1833. Melville left school and worked at various jobs before shipping on the whaler Achshnet in 1841. The next year he deserted, travelled the South Seas and joined the US Navy. After three years he retired, settled in Massachusetts and started to write. His first two novels, Typee (1846) and Omoo (1847), were fictionalized accounts of his travels: they remained his most popular works during his lifetime. In 1847 Melville married and wrote a series of novels he considered potboilers for money. With Moby-Dick (1851) he changed course, partly under the influence of Nathaniel Hawthorne; but the novel's extravagant intensity lost him readers. Pierre (1852) fared no better, and after publishing one more novel Melville took a job as a customs inspector in the New York City harbour and turned to writing poetry. He died there in 1891; an unfinished novel, Billy Budd, Sailor, was published in 1924.


Gr 5-8‘Prose filled with rich, vivid, precise language shapes this retelling of Herman Melville's classic adventure of obsession. Without sacrificing the quality of the original, McCaughrean has created a shortened version of the tale that's filled with intriguing, finely drawn characters and the excitement of a dangerous quest on the high seas. Captain Ahab is clearly a man possessed by the need to destroy Moby Dick, a need that interferes with rational concern for his safety and that of his men. Through the voice of the narrator, Ishmael, comes a vivid picture of a whaler's life, its tedium, its loneliness, and its terror. McCaughrean paints clear, animated images with her words that marry well with Ambrus's exciting illustrations. This is a beautifully cohesive volume that makes a classic tale accessible without diminishing it.‘Renee Steinberg, Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ

Top scholars John Bryant and Haskell Springer give Melville's anointed epic of obsession and revenge a thorough revision, reinserting the materials expurgated by early British publishers as well as incorporating revisions by the author and alterations performed by fellow Melville scholars over the years. The result is the closest version to Melville's first printed American text as is now available. Changes and additions are set off in grey type to show readers what was removed, revised, etc. Along with the corrected text, this includes many sweet extras, like textual notes, an essay on the various revisions, a bibliography of the sources Melville consulted, a list for further reading, illustrations ranging from ship diagrams and movie stills to comic art, a map of the Pequod's journey, and a glossary. All that for $19.95 makes this a must-have for public and academic libraries. A grand achievement that will benefit readers for ages. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

The great white resurfaces in this gripping, comic book-style retelling. Comic-strip veterans Schwartz and Giordano condense Melville's leviathan tale into an action-packed, 48-page adventure. Despite forgoing Melville's "Call me Ishmael" first-person narrative and sensory details, this retelling closely adheres to the original plot, including some pivotal scenes absent from Allan Drummond's spare but entertaining 1997 Moby Dick. The dense story clips along, thanks to concise but appealingly hammy storytelling and melodramatic drawings, plus multiple panels that quicken the pace. When Ishmael meets Queequeg, for instance, the author squeezes out every drop of suspense: "There in the dimly lit room looms the forbidding image of Queequeg... harpoon at the ready, poised to sink its sharp head into his shaking body!!" Giordano ratchets up the tension with a series of close-ups of Ishmael's terrified face as he awakens to the "savage" in his rented room. The brooding, dark-toned panels exude imminent danger-an ideal milieu for Captain Ahab's doomed voyage. The book also provides a brief biography of Melville, as well as facts about whaling and New Bedford, Mass., the city that commissioned this retelling in celebration of the 150th anniversary (in 2001) of Moby Dick's original publication. Ages 8-up. (Oct.)

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