Moby Dick

Or, the Whale

By Herman Melville; Elizabeth Hardwick (Introduction by); Rockwell Kent (Illustrator)
(Modern Library, Paperback, 9780679783275, 928pp.)

Publication Date: October 10, 2000

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Description

Introduction by Elizabeth Hardwick
Illustrations by Rockwell Kent
First published in 1851, Herman Melville's masterpiece is, in Elizabeth Hardwick's words, "the greatest novel in American literature." The saga of Captain Ahab and his monomaniacal pursuit of the white whale remains a peerless adventure story but one full of mythic grandeur, poetic majesty, and symbolic power. Filtered through the consciousness of the novel's narrator, Ishmael, "Moby-Dick" draws us into a universe full of fascinating characters and stories, from the noble cannibal Queequeg to the natural history of whales, while reaching existential depths that excite debate and contemplation to this day.




About the Author
Herman Melville (August 1, 1819 - September 28, 1891) was an American novelist, writer of short stories, and poet from the American Renaissance period. The bulk of his writings was published between 1846 and 1857. Best known for his whaling novel Moby-Dick (1851), he is also legendary for having been forgotten during the last thirty years of his life. Melville's writing is characteristic for its allusivity. "In Melville's manipulation of his reading," scholar Stanley T. Williams wrote, "was a transforming power comparable to Shakespeare's." Born in New York City, he was the third child of a merchant in French dry-goods, with Revolutionary War heroes for grandfathers. Not long after the death of his father in 1832, his schooling stopped abruptly. After having been a schoolteacher for a short time, he signed up for a merchant voyage to Liverpool in 1839. A year and a half into his first whaling voyage, in 1842 he jumped ship in the Marquesas Islands, where he lived among the natives for a month. His first book, Typee (1846) became a huge bestseller which called for a sequel, Omoo (1847). The same year Melville married Elizabeth Knapp Shaw; their four children were all born between 1849 and 1855.

Elizabeth Hardwick is the author of many books and essays, including "Herman Melville" (Penguin Lives), "Sleepless Nights," and "American Fictions," available as a Modern Library paperback. She lives in New York City.

ROCKWELL KENT (1872 - 1971) is perhaps best known for his illustrations for The Complete Works of William Shakespeare and Moby Dick. Kent also created the "random house" that, despite revision throughout the years, has been the colophon of that company since its inception in 1928. Kent's other travel books include N by E, Wilderness, and Voyaging, all reissued by Wesleyan/UPNE.
DOUG CAPRA teaches English in Seward, Alaska, where he has lived since 1971. He has written two books on Seward history and spent many years researching and writing about Kent in Alaska. His articles on Kent have appeared in such publications as Alaska Magazine and The Kent Collector.
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