Classic Literature Book Review

Moby-Dick; or, the Whale

by Herman Melville
Reviewed date: 2023 Aug 4
Rating: 2
654 pages
cover art

Moby Dick is better than Lord Jim. It's got an actual plot told in an actual straightforward way. Yes, with a lot of digressions, but this is way better than the circumlocutions that Conrad employs in Lord Jim to obscure the fact that it has no plot.

Moby Dick would be better if most of the whale-related rot was cut out. I mean the digressions from the plot, not the part about Ahab's monomaniacal quest to find and kill the white whale. Keep that part. But all the other stuff, throw it out. I know the literary purists disagree and say that if you remove the whale-industry digressions and the whale-history digressions, the book would be totally different. And they're right. If that stuff was removed, Moby-Dick would be a better book.

Then again, as I listened to the book on a long cross-country drive, I didn't mind the long digressions. It killed time, and Melville's writing is fantastic. He sure has a way with words.

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