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Is Moby-Dick worth reading? Show more Show less
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"Moby-Dick; Or, The Whale" is is often touted as one of the greatest novels of all time, or at the very least, one of the greatest American novels. "Moby-Dick" is thought to be both revolutionary in its scale and scope, while also being a celebration of literature's past. At the same time, the novel finds critics in its verbose and seemingly pointless meanderings on whales and whaling. Is "Moby-Dick" truly worth reading?

Yes, Moby-Dick is worth reading. Show more Show less

"Moby-Dick" is one of the greatest novels of all time in several respects.
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Moby-Dick is culturally significant in popular culture and the American canon of literature

The novel remains, more than one-hundred fifty years after its original publication, a hallmark of popular culture. The book itself has been referenced in countless TV shows, movies, and other books. Moby-Dick is an essential staple of popular literary culture.

The Argument

"Moby-Dick" is one of the most famous books in popular culture. Ahab's journey to kill the White Whale has been alluded to in almost every form of modern media, ranging from rock songs to TV shows. The book has been paid homage to in "Star Trek", "Futurama", and a Pink Floyd song, among many others. Starbucks Coffee even takes its name from the first mate of the Pequod, Starbuck. Given in its prevalence in our society, it is worth reading. Even if one was not to value the occasional references in popular media, the plethora of themes and characters in "Moby-Dick" are prevalent in all theaters of life. The book has a place in our modern discussion of climate change, whaling, and man's role in nature, as all the above are themes that are constantly explored and discussed in the novel. Published in 1851, in antebellum America, the book is notable for exploring racial dynamics, differing sexual orientations, and other themes which are far more frequently discussed now than they were in the nineteenth century. In this way, the novel stretches far beyond the zeitgeist of antebellum America and remains timeless to this day. Its themes resonate perhaps now more so than ever. With its vast reach in all corners of our culture and even politics today, "Moby-Dick" is undoubtedly worth reading.

Counter arguments

Although the book is commonly referenced, there is no need to read the novel to appreciate or understand these references. And while the book may discuss radical ideas and themes for the time, again, there is no need to read the novel. It has been more than one-hundred fifty years since its publication, and times have greatly changed. For example, the twenty-first century's struggle with climate change is vastly different than that of the nineteenth century. There is no need to spend the time reading "Moby-Dick" to glean the little information needed to understand such references or modern issues.

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This page was last edited on Thursday, 27 Aug 2020 at 13:55 UTC

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