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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 incredibly well-written and redefined the construct of novels

The book itself is phenomenal in all ways. The prose is both beautiful and haunting. The story of Ahab and the whale is one of the most well known today. "Moby-Dick" pushed every known boundary of novels at the time. There is a reason why many call this the greatest American novel.

The Argument

The prose of the book itself is incredibly masterful. There seems to be no shortage of breathtaking passages or clever references to classical literature, Shakespeare, and the like. Melville expertly crafts a stunning and compelling plot accompanied by a host of unforgettable, and now famous, characters. The monomaniacal Ahab, for example, is one of the most iconic literary characters, and he himself has even become an archetype of the obsessive. Even the white whale, not so much a character as much as a symbol, has taken on a life of its own outside the novel as a common metaphor/idiom. The plot itself is just as well known, with most knowing the fated ending of the Pequod and her crew. And although many criticisms of the book come from long-winded and seemingly pointless passages on whale terminology and the whaling industry, these wanderings from the main plot serve their purpose. In making "Moby-Dick" a sort of rudimentary whaling encyclopedia in tandem with the story, Melville revolutionized what a novel could be. In this way, "Moby-Dick" is well worth reading in its revolutionary nature, and perhaps most simply, because it is a riveting and well-written story.

Counter arguments

Although some passages are particularly striking and beautiful, the book as a whole drags in many aspects. Even though Melville is writing about whaling passages, it seems as though he has made it particularly boring. Their inclusion in the work itself is questionable. What purpose do they serve besides being a showcase of Melville's whaling knowledge? Many of the words and references employed in the text are wholly ungraspable to the average reader. Without using a dictionary or Google, an edition without annotations is practically unreadable. In this way, "Moby-Dick" is inaccessible and not worth the read.

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    This page was last edited on Thursday, 27 Aug 2020 at 14:01 UTC

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