Moby-Dick

or, The Whale

Introduction by Andrew Delbanco
Notes by Tom Quirk
Commentaries by Tom Quirk
Part of Penguin’s beautiful hardcover Clothbound Classics series, designed by the award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith, these delectable and collectible editions are bound in high-quality, tactile cloth with foil stamped into the design.

In part, Moby-Dick is the story of an eerily compelling madman pursuing an unholy war against a creature as vast and dangerous and unknowable as the sea itself. But more than just a novel of adventure, more than an encyclopedia of whaling lore and legend, Moby-Dick is a haunting, mesmerizing, and important social commentary populated with several of the most unforgettable and enduring characters in literature. Written with wonderfully redemptive humor, Moby-Dick is a profound and timeless inquiry into character, faith, and the nature of perception.

This edition contains the definitive text of Moby-Dick based on the Northwestern-Newberry edition. It also features an introduction by Andrew Delbanco and explanatory commentary by Tom Quirk.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
 
Herman Melville was born in New York City in 1819. When his father died, he was forced to leave school and find work. After passing through some minor clerical jobs, the eighteen-year-old young man shipped out to sea, first on a short cargo trip, then, at twenty-one, on a three-year South Sea whaling venture. From the experiences accumulated on this voyage would come the material for his early books, Typee (1846) and Omoo (1847), as well as for such masterpieces as Moby-Dick (1851), Pierre (1852), The Piazza Tales (1856), and Billy Budd, Sailor, and Other Stories (posthumous, 1924). Though the first two novels—popular romantic adventures—sold well, Melville's more serious writing failed to attract a large audience, perhaps because it attacked the current philosophy of transcendentalism and its espoused "self-reliance." (As he made clear in the savagely comic The Confidence Man (1857), Melville thought very little of Emersonian philosophy.) He spent his later years working as a customs inspector on the New York docks, writing only poems comprising Battle-Pieces (1866). He died in 1891, leaving Billy Budd, Sailor, and Other Stories unpublished. View titles by Herman Melville
Coralie Bickford-Smith is an award-winning designer at Penguin Books, where she has created several highly acclaimed series designs. She studied typography at Reading University and lives in London. View titles by Coralie Bickford-Smith
Introduction
Suggestions for Further Reading
A Note on the Text

Etymology
Extracts

Moby Dick

Loomings
The Carpet Bag
The Spouter-Inn
The Counterpane
Breakfast
The Street
The Chapel
The Pulpit
The Sermon
A Bosom Friend
Nightgown
Biographical
Wheelbarrow
Nantucket
Chowder
The Ship
The Ramadan
His Mark
The Prophet
All Astir
Going Aboard
Merry Christmas
The Lee Shore
The Advocate
Postscript
Knights and Squires
Knights and Squires
Ahab
Enter Ahab; to him, Stubb
The Pipe
Queen Mab
Cetology
The Specksynder
The Cabin Table
The Mast-Head
The Quarter-Deck • Ahab and all
Sunset
Dusk
First Night-Watch
Forecastle---Midnight
Moby Dick
The Whiteness of the Whale
Hark!
The Chart
The Affidavit
Surmises
The Mat-Maker
The First Lowering
The Hyena
Ahab's Boat and Crew---Fedallah
The Spirit-Spout
The Pequod meets the Albatross
The Gam
The Town Ho's Story
Monstrous Pictures of Whales
Less Erroneous Pictures of Whales
Of Whales in Paint, in Teeth, &c.
Brit
Squid
The Line
Stubb kills a Whale
The Dart
The Crotch
Stubb's Supper
The Whale as a Dish
The Shark Massacre
Cutting In
The Blanket
The Funeral
The Sphynx
The Pequod meets the Jeroboam • Her Story
The Monkey-rope
Stubb & Flask kill a Right Whale
The Sperm Whale's Head
The Right Whale's Head
The Battering-Ram
The Great Heidelburgh Tun
Cistern and Buckets
The Prairie
The Nut
The Pequod meets the Virgin
The Honor and Glory of Whaling
Jonah Historically Regarded
Pitchpoling
The Fountain
The Tail
The Grand Armada
Schools & Schoolmasters
Fast Fish and Loose Fish
Heads or Tails
The Pequod meets the Rose Bud
Ambergris
The Castaway
A Squeeze of the Hand
The Cassock
The Try-Works
The Lamp
Stowing Down & Clearing Up
The Doubloon
The Pequod meets the Samuel Enderby of London
The Decanter
A Bower in the Arsacides
Measurement of the Whale's Skeleton
The Fossil Whale
Does the Whale Diminish?
Ahab's Leg
The Carpenter
The Deck • Ahab and the Carpenter
The Cabin • Ahab and Starbuck
Queequeg in his Coffin
The Pacific
The Blacksmith
The Forge
The Gilder
The Pequod meets the Bachelor
The Dying Whale
The Whale-Watch
The Quadrant
The Candles
The Deck
Midnight, on the Forecastle
Midnight, Aloft
The Musket
The Needle
The Log and Line
The Life-Buoy
Ahab and the Carpenter
The Pequod meets the Rachel
The Cabin •Ahab and Pip
The Hat
The Pequod meets the Delight
The Symphony
The Chase • First Day
The Chase • Second Day
The Chase • Third Day
Epilogue

List of Textual Emendations
Explanatory Notes
Glossary of Nautical Terms
Maps and Illustrations

Call me Ishmael. This resonant opening of Moby-Dick, the greatest novel in American literature, announces the narrator, Herman Melville, as he with a measure of slyness thought of himself. In the Scriptures Ishmael, a wild man sired by the overwhelming patriarch Abraham, was nevertheless the bastard son of a serving girl Hagar. The author himself was the offspring of two distinguished American families, the Melvilles of Boston and the Gansevoorts of Albany.

Melville's father cast something of a blight on the family escutcheon by his tendency to bankruptcy which passed down to his son. Dollars damn me, the son was to say over and over. When he sat down in the green landscape of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, to compose Moby-Dick he was in debt, the father of one son, and another to be born a few days after the publication of the novel in England.

Melville had published five novels previous to Moby-Dick; the first two did well, and then with the capriciousness of the public the subsequent novels failed to please. He was a known literary figure with a fading reputation. How he came upon the courage to undertake the challenging creation of the epical battle between a sea creature, a white whale called Moby Dick, and an old captain from Nantucket by the name of Ahab is one of literature's triumphant mysteries. Add to that, as one reads, that he was only thirty-two years old.

Ten years before, in 1841, he had signed up as a common seaman on the whaling vessel Acushnet bound for the South Seas. Young Ishmael was drawn by the lure of the sea and by the wonder of the whale itself, the Leviathan, the monarch of the deep, "one grand hooded phantom, like a snow hill in the air." Until the discovery of petroleum oil in 1859 and Thomas Edison's invention of the incandescent lamp in 1879, whaling was a major commercial occupation in New England. Fortunes were made, grand houses were built, often with a "widow's walk" on the roof that testified to the great dangers of the enterprise. For the crew, service on a whaler was a drastic life of unremitting labor; foul, crowded quarters; bad food in scanty servings; contractual terms for years at miserable wages; brutalized companions picked up from all the ports of the world; tyrannical captains practicing a "sultanism" which Melville abhorred. A ship afloat is after all a prison. Melville was on three whalers in his four years at sea and from each, as we read in Typee and Omoo, the struggle is to escape, as he did when the boats anchored near exotic islands. He wrote about the misery of the whaling life, but not about whaling itself until he came to Moby-Dick. His imaginary whaler, the Pequod, death bound as it is, would be called, for an ordinary seaman, an agreeable berth. Ahab has no interest left beyond his internal struggle with one whale.

Still, there is whaling, the presumption of it. When a whale is sighted small boats are detached from the main vessel and the men engage in a deadly battle to try to match, with flying harpoons, the whale's immense strength and desperation. If the great thing is captured, the deck of the main ship becomes an abattoir of blood and guts. The thick blubber is to be stripped, the huge head to be drained of its oils for soothing ambergris, for candles; the bones of the carcass make their way into corsets and umbrellas and scrimshaw trinkets. Moby-Dick is a history of cetology, an encylopedic telling of the qualities of the fin-back, the right whale, the hyena whale, the sperm whale, the killer whale, classified by size in mock academic form as folio, octavo, and so on.

Information about a vanished world is one thing, but, above all else, this astonishing book is a human tragedy of almost supernatural suspensiveness, written in a rushing flow of imaginative language, poetical intensity, metaphor and adjective of consuming beauty. It begins on the cobbled streets of New Bedford, where Ishmael is to spend a few days before boarding the Pequod in Nantucket. The opening pages have a boyish charm as he is brought to share a bed with a fellow sailor, the harpooner Queequeg, an outrageously tattoed "primitive" who will be his companion throughout the narrative. Great ships under sail gave the old ports a rich heritage of myth, gossip, exaggeration, and rhetorical flights. Ishmael, on a Sunday, visits a whaleman's chapel to hear the incomparable sermon by Father Mapple on Jonah and the whale, a majestic interlude, one of many in this torrential outburst of fictional genius.

As Ishmael and Queequeg proceed to Nantucket, the shadows of the plot begin to fall upon the pages. The recruits are interviewed by two retired sailors who will struggle to express the complicated nature of Captain Ahab. We learn that he has lost a leg, chewed off by a whale, and thus the fated voyage of the Pequod begins. Ahab has lost his leg to a white whale Moby Dick and is consumed with a passion for retribution. He will hunt the singular whale as a private destiny in the manner of ancient kings in a legendary world. However, Ahab is real and in command. The chief mate, Starbuck, understands the folly of the quest, the danger of it, and, as a thoughtful man longing to return to his wife and children, he will speak again and again the language of reason. "Vengeance on a dumb beast that simply smote thee from the blindest instinct! Madness! To be enraged with a dumb thing, Captain Ahab, seems blasphemous."

The necessity of Starbuck's human distance from the implacable imperative of Ahab's quest illustrates the brilliant formation of this harrowing tale. But it is Ahab's story, his destiny, and, if on the one hand, he is a shabby, sea-worn sailor long mesmerized by mercurial oceans, he too has a wife at home and a child of his old age. We learn, as the story proceeds, that on a time ashore after his terrible wounding, he had fallen and by way of his whalebone leg been unmanned. He has suffered an incapacity not to be peacefully borne by one who in forty years had spent only three on land. Ahab knows the wild unsuitability of his nature, his remove from the common life.

About

Part of Penguin’s beautiful hardcover Clothbound Classics series, designed by the award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith, these delectable and collectible editions are bound in high-quality, tactile cloth with foil stamped into the design.

In part, Moby-Dick is the story of an eerily compelling madman pursuing an unholy war against a creature as vast and dangerous and unknowable as the sea itself. But more than just a novel of adventure, more than an encyclopedia of whaling lore and legend, Moby-Dick is a haunting, mesmerizing, and important social commentary populated with several of the most unforgettable and enduring characters in literature. Written with wonderfully redemptive humor, Moby-Dick is a profound and timeless inquiry into character, faith, and the nature of perception.

This edition contains the definitive text of Moby-Dick based on the Northwestern-Newberry edition. It also features an introduction by Andrew Delbanco and explanatory commentary by Tom Quirk.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
 

Author

Herman Melville was born in New York City in 1819. When his father died, he was forced to leave school and find work. After passing through some minor clerical jobs, the eighteen-year-old young man shipped out to sea, first on a short cargo trip, then, at twenty-one, on a three-year South Sea whaling venture. From the experiences accumulated on this voyage would come the material for his early books, Typee (1846) and Omoo (1847), as well as for such masterpieces as Moby-Dick (1851), Pierre (1852), The Piazza Tales (1856), and Billy Budd, Sailor, and Other Stories (posthumous, 1924). Though the first two novels—popular romantic adventures—sold well, Melville's more serious writing failed to attract a large audience, perhaps because it attacked the current philosophy of transcendentalism and its espoused "self-reliance." (As he made clear in the savagely comic The Confidence Man (1857), Melville thought very little of Emersonian philosophy.) He spent his later years working as a customs inspector on the New York docks, writing only poems comprising Battle-Pieces (1866). He died in 1891, leaving Billy Budd, Sailor, and Other Stories unpublished. View titles by Herman Melville
Coralie Bickford-Smith is an award-winning designer at Penguin Books, where she has created several highly acclaimed series designs. She studied typography at Reading University and lives in London. View titles by Coralie Bickford-Smith

Table of Contents

Introduction
Suggestions for Further Reading
A Note on the Text

Etymology
Extracts

Moby Dick

Loomings
The Carpet Bag
The Spouter-Inn
The Counterpane
Breakfast
The Street
The Chapel
The Pulpit
The Sermon
A Bosom Friend
Nightgown
Biographical
Wheelbarrow
Nantucket
Chowder
The Ship
The Ramadan
His Mark
The Prophet
All Astir
Going Aboard
Merry Christmas
The Lee Shore
The Advocate
Postscript
Knights and Squires
Knights and Squires
Ahab
Enter Ahab; to him, Stubb
The Pipe
Queen Mab
Cetology
The Specksynder
The Cabin Table
The Mast-Head
The Quarter-Deck • Ahab and all
Sunset
Dusk
First Night-Watch
Forecastle---Midnight
Moby Dick
The Whiteness of the Whale
Hark!
The Chart
The Affidavit
Surmises
The Mat-Maker
The First Lowering
The Hyena
Ahab's Boat and Crew---Fedallah
The Spirit-Spout
The Pequod meets the Albatross
The Gam
The Town Ho's Story
Monstrous Pictures of Whales
Less Erroneous Pictures of Whales
Of Whales in Paint, in Teeth, &c.
Brit
Squid
The Line
Stubb kills a Whale
The Dart
The Crotch
Stubb's Supper
The Whale as a Dish
The Shark Massacre
Cutting In
The Blanket
The Funeral
The Sphynx
The Pequod meets the Jeroboam • Her Story
The Monkey-rope
Stubb & Flask kill a Right Whale
The Sperm Whale's Head
The Right Whale's Head
The Battering-Ram
The Great Heidelburgh Tun
Cistern and Buckets
The Prairie
The Nut
The Pequod meets the Virgin
The Honor and Glory of Whaling
Jonah Historically Regarded
Pitchpoling
The Fountain
The Tail
The Grand Armada
Schools & Schoolmasters
Fast Fish and Loose Fish
Heads or Tails
The Pequod meets the Rose Bud
Ambergris
The Castaway
A Squeeze of the Hand
The Cassock
The Try-Works
The Lamp
Stowing Down & Clearing Up
The Doubloon
The Pequod meets the Samuel Enderby of London
The Decanter
A Bower in the Arsacides
Measurement of the Whale's Skeleton
The Fossil Whale
Does the Whale Diminish?
Ahab's Leg
The Carpenter
The Deck • Ahab and the Carpenter
The Cabin • Ahab and Starbuck
Queequeg in his Coffin
The Pacific
The Blacksmith
The Forge
The Gilder
The Pequod meets the Bachelor
The Dying Whale
The Whale-Watch
The Quadrant
The Candles
The Deck
Midnight, on the Forecastle
Midnight, Aloft
The Musket
The Needle
The Log and Line
The Life-Buoy
Ahab and the Carpenter
The Pequod meets the Rachel
The Cabin •Ahab and Pip
The Hat
The Pequod meets the Delight
The Symphony
The Chase • First Day
The Chase • Second Day
The Chase • Third Day
Epilogue

List of Textual Emendations
Explanatory Notes
Glossary of Nautical Terms
Maps and Illustrations

Excerpt

Call me Ishmael. This resonant opening of Moby-Dick, the greatest novel in American literature, announces the narrator, Herman Melville, as he with a measure of slyness thought of himself. In the Scriptures Ishmael, a wild man sired by the overwhelming patriarch Abraham, was nevertheless the bastard son of a serving girl Hagar. The author himself was the offspring of two distinguished American families, the Melvilles of Boston and the Gansevoorts of Albany.

Melville's father cast something of a blight on the family escutcheon by his tendency to bankruptcy which passed down to his son. Dollars damn me, the son was to say over and over. When he sat down in the green landscape of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, to compose Moby-Dick he was in debt, the father of one son, and another to be born a few days after the publication of the novel in England.

Melville had published five novels previous to Moby-Dick; the first two did well, and then with the capriciousness of the public the subsequent novels failed to please. He was a known literary figure with a fading reputation. How he came upon the courage to undertake the challenging creation of the epical battle between a sea creature, a white whale called Moby Dick, and an old captain from Nantucket by the name of Ahab is one of literature's triumphant mysteries. Add to that, as one reads, that he was only thirty-two years old.

Ten years before, in 1841, he had signed up as a common seaman on the whaling vessel Acushnet bound for the South Seas. Young Ishmael was drawn by the lure of the sea and by the wonder of the whale itself, the Leviathan, the monarch of the deep, "one grand hooded phantom, like a snow hill in the air." Until the discovery of petroleum oil in 1859 and Thomas Edison's invention of the incandescent lamp in 1879, whaling was a major commercial occupation in New England. Fortunes were made, grand houses were built, often with a "widow's walk" on the roof that testified to the great dangers of the enterprise. For the crew, service on a whaler was a drastic life of unremitting labor; foul, crowded quarters; bad food in scanty servings; contractual terms for years at miserable wages; brutalized companions picked up from all the ports of the world; tyrannical captains practicing a "sultanism" which Melville abhorred. A ship afloat is after all a prison. Melville was on three whalers in his four years at sea and from each, as we read in Typee and Omoo, the struggle is to escape, as he did when the boats anchored near exotic islands. He wrote about the misery of the whaling life, but not about whaling itself until he came to Moby-Dick. His imaginary whaler, the Pequod, death bound as it is, would be called, for an ordinary seaman, an agreeable berth. Ahab has no interest left beyond his internal struggle with one whale.

Still, there is whaling, the presumption of it. When a whale is sighted small boats are detached from the main vessel and the men engage in a deadly battle to try to match, with flying harpoons, the whale's immense strength and desperation. If the great thing is captured, the deck of the main ship becomes an abattoir of blood and guts. The thick blubber is to be stripped, the huge head to be drained of its oils for soothing ambergris, for candles; the bones of the carcass make their way into corsets and umbrellas and scrimshaw trinkets. Moby-Dick is a history of cetology, an encylopedic telling of the qualities of the fin-back, the right whale, the hyena whale, the sperm whale, the killer whale, classified by size in mock academic form as folio, octavo, and so on.

Information about a vanished world is one thing, but, above all else, this astonishing book is a human tragedy of almost supernatural suspensiveness, written in a rushing flow of imaginative language, poetical intensity, metaphor and adjective of consuming beauty. It begins on the cobbled streets of New Bedford, where Ishmael is to spend a few days before boarding the Pequod in Nantucket. The opening pages have a boyish charm as he is brought to share a bed with a fellow sailor, the harpooner Queequeg, an outrageously tattoed "primitive" who will be his companion throughout the narrative. Great ships under sail gave the old ports a rich heritage of myth, gossip, exaggeration, and rhetorical flights. Ishmael, on a Sunday, visits a whaleman's chapel to hear the incomparable sermon by Father Mapple on Jonah and the whale, a majestic interlude, one of many in this torrential outburst of fictional genius.

As Ishmael and Queequeg proceed to Nantucket, the shadows of the plot begin to fall upon the pages. The recruits are interviewed by two retired sailors who will struggle to express the complicated nature of Captain Ahab. We learn that he has lost a leg, chewed off by a whale, and thus the fated voyage of the Pequod begins. Ahab has lost his leg to a white whale Moby Dick and is consumed with a passion for retribution. He will hunt the singular whale as a private destiny in the manner of ancient kings in a legendary world. However, Ahab is real and in command. The chief mate, Starbuck, understands the folly of the quest, the danger of it, and, as a thoughtful man longing to return to his wife and children, he will speak again and again the language of reason. "Vengeance on a dumb beast that simply smote thee from the blindest instinct! Madness! To be enraged with a dumb thing, Captain Ahab, seems blasphemous."

The necessity of Starbuck's human distance from the implacable imperative of Ahab's quest illustrates the brilliant formation of this harrowing tale. But it is Ahab's story, his destiny, and, if on the one hand, he is a shabby, sea-worn sailor long mesmerized by mercurial oceans, he too has a wife at home and a child of his old age. We learn, as the story proceeds, that on a time ashore after his terrible wounding, he had fallen and by way of his whalebone leg been unmanned. He has suffered an incapacity not to be peacefully borne by one who in forty years had spent only three on land. Ahab knows the wild unsuitability of his nature, his remove from the common life.

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