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Moby Dick

Written by: Herman Melville
Narrated by: Anthony Heald
Length: 23 hrs and 52 mins
4 out of 5 stars (131 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The outcast youth Ishmael, succumbing to wanderlust during a dreary New England autumn, signs up for passage aboard a whaling ship. The Pequod sails under the command of the one-legged Captain Ahab, who has set himself on a monomaniacal quest to capture the cunning white whale that robbed him of his leg: Moby-Dick. Capturing life on the sea with robust realism, Melville details the adventures of the colorful crew aboard the ship as Ahab pursues his crusade of revenge, heedless of all cost.
Public Domain (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the critics say

"The greatest of American novels." ( Atlantic Monthly)
"[A]n intense, superbly authentic narrative. Its theme and central figure are reminiscent of Job in his search for justice and of Oedipus in his search for truth."( Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Full of excitement

Herman Melville has an infectious way of creating images and scenes in the mind. His use of the English language is masterful as he takes you along this adventurous journey from beginning to end.

Some parts of this book are rather dry and long. much of it is taken up with descriptions and classifications of whales and other such details. This will definitely not be an easy read, but if you can make it through those parts, it will be worth it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A very good story, I see why people like it.

I now know more about 19th century whaling than I ever thought I would. But in addition to the many details, there is a profound story to be heard. It is a long journey, but whaling voyages are indeed long.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Learn something new everyday!

It is a classic for a reason, actually many reasons! I learned a lot about the whaling industry and the characters were amazing.

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Riveting as long as it's on 1.25

I had always wanted to read this classic. It's a slow start but as long as it's on 1.25 it actually passes at a bearable pace. chapters 90 onward I found I didn't want to set it down for even a second. The story telling brings it to life. They could not have picked someone better.

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  • SM
  • 2018-12-08

Great classic with amazing narration

I think this audiobook may be better than the print form, due to the narration. I loved the way he was breathless while the character was pulling the oars in pursuit of his prey..

Not all classics suit audio I think, but this one was a big win!! Good job.

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    4 out of 5 stars

Still a classic

My dad used to read me this book before bed when I was a kid. It was a treat to revisit it years later. I didn't remember how much of the whaling process was depicted in the book which I found really interesting. Still classic all these years later. #Audible1

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#1Audible Classic

This American Classic is a timeless beauty and a refreshing listen in these troubled tumultuous times.
#1Audible

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a great listen

having read book a few times nice way and new experience of this story enjoy

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The ultimate story of revenge, pride, and downfall

#Audible1 Awesome story, and so colourfully written. Melville tells a straightforward tale in a magnificently rich way. Sometimes, his description of an event or biological classification borders on the pedantic (particularly his method of cataloging whales!), but I've still enjoyed the story immensely.

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Excellent re-read.

This is my second time through Moby-Dick. When I put the book down the first time I appreciated it but was a little overwhelmed so I knew I should put it down and re-read it again in a few years. This audio book version was an excellent choice of medium for the repeat. The performance was excellent. It was a fantastic way to kill six hours there and back from Saskatoon in my truck and the rest of the time spent while working on a puzzle. Anthony Heald's reading really help to put me right on the ship with Ishmael. My wife will be borrowing this one from me soon. #Audible1

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • AmazonCustomer
  • 2008-06-06

Gripping despite the minutiae

I got it in my head last summer to read Moby Dick again after 30 years. Don't know what I was thinking, as I could not get past the first few chapters, I kept getting distracted and losing interest. On a whim, I downloaded this reading on Audible. I absolutely LOVED it! The narrator's unique voice and his colorful portrayal of the various (memorable!) characters in this long, rambling novel kept me fascinated and involved from the first minute to the last, many many hours later. In fact, when the novel ended, I kept respectful silence in my car for about a week, then listened to the whole thing over again, as there were many details that I seemed to have lost track of as the hours went on. Second time round, I was amazed at the symbolism, echoes, foreshadowing, and meditations on good vs. evil. I also kept trying to find clues as to why this is so often regarded as a great "American" novel--why American as opposed to any other country's? Still not sure about that, though I'm sure there are treatises and Ph.D's devoted to the topic if I wanted to pursue it. At any rate, I have come away from this narrator's reading convinced of Melville's brilliance and uniqueness as a novelist. I have simply never read (well, heard) a book like this one. I really think it's easier to have this novel read to you than to read it on the page. The discursions and treatises on whaling, shipping, the color white, depictions of the whale in art, blubber, ropes, shipboard carpentry and all the rest are fascinating when this particular narrator tells you about them in his distinctive accents and intonations. I don't know if I'll buy another contemporary novel on Audible again; I am pursuing readings of classic novels for the foreseeable future.

97 of 102 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Thomas
  • 2004-06-16

The Narrator Brings the Book Alive

I can't believe some found the narrator sub par. This guy did a great job with tough material and did so in a way that kept the story moving. I could never have read this book by myself and finished it. My hat is off to the narrator, excellent job. Bravo.

As for the content of the unabridged book, be prepared for lengthy dissertations on what the color white means, how whale is best prepared and whale anatomy. This book is best listen to in small segments but in the end you will be left with a sense of accomplishment for sticking it through. You will also be rewarded with a much better understanding of what it must have been like to be on a whaling vessel in the late 1800's.

40 of 44 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • John
  • 2007-12-22

This is THE WAY to

I approached this book with trepidation as I had heard it was formidable in terms of the patience required.

By the end of the book I was thinking that THIS is the way to experience the book! Like a Shakespearean play, which is richer in the "performance" than on the page, an audiobook of Moby Dick sweeps you into the action without burdening you with the unfamilar patterns of 19th century prose.

Starts a bit slow, but before you know it, you're just eager to see what happens next. By the end of it, I had a true appreciation for just how good, and how deserving of respect, this novel is.

23 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Nina
  • 2009-08-11

The Best Version!

Moby Dick is a brilliant novel, but it requires incredible attention. You need a reader who brings life to the words. Of the dozen readers with their versions of Moby Dick out there, Anthony Heald's is by far the best. He brings Moby Dick to life.

27 of 30 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Christian
  • 2005-11-16

Adventure into deep thoughts

This book is as deep as it is difficult. When listening, make notes to look up obscure references to mythology, religion, and so forth. The book cannot be properly appreciated without understanding, for example, the connections between Perseus, Hercules, and Prometheus, or what the myth of Narcissus says. The ideas he works with are highly philosophical--he is criticizing and agreeing with certain philosophical positions and developing his own position as he wrestles with The Great Questions. This book cannot be fully appreciated in one, two, or even three readings--which is one reason why it is one of the greatest classics of all time. Take your time. Stop and think about the significance of strange passages. For example, the chapter on the whiteness of the whale, and the chapter on the study of whales, which reviewers were frustrated by, have significant meanings--they are not excess fat that should have been cut. Listen closely and you'll catch the humor, beauty, and sublimity of this masterpiece. After listening, return to it again in a few years. The second time around will likely yield a much richer experience.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Karen
  • 2004-03-20

Much better than I remembered

I must confess that I hated this book the first time I read it and so was very pleasantly surprised to find that listening greatly improved the experience, so much so, that I've actually begun reading it again. Its true, parts are dull (catalogue of whales, etc.), but other parts are, amazingly, quite funny. I can finally see why it's considered one of the greatest of all American novels -- the adventure plot and provacative themes make for an engrossing listening experience. The only negative (hence the four-, instead of five-, star rating) was the narrator -- at times, I found his diction and tone a bit annoying.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful

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  • Dan Harlow
  • 2014-05-09

Not a novel; epic poetry.

Any additional comments?

Samurai films are my favorite genre pictures. Mainly what attracts me to them isn't so much that I love Japanese history or ever wanted to be a samurai, it's that I love how a good, proper samurai film teases out the action until the finale. Samurai films are about patience; the slow burn. Shots might linger on the rain, or cherry blossoms, or footprints in the snow, or the sounds of cicadas in the summer heat but the 'action' isn't until after two hours of build up.

For me anticipation is what I love, perhaps more than the resolution itself. I love waiting for something to happen but I never really was that excited for the thing itself. I suppose I just like having something to look forward to. Expectation and imagination is, typically, far more interesting than reality.

A samurai would spend his entire life training for battle yet, like the samurai in Kurosawa's 'Seven Samurai' not be victorious even once. There would be very little glory in a war; only the young and inexperienced would find it romantic while the old veterans would know there is never really any winning a war.

And that is what Moby Dick is for me: a samurai film set at sea where the warriors are all Nantucket whalers and the villain is a fish.

Melville, too, must have felt similar about anticipation as I do. His whole novel - though this is not a novel, it's really an epic poem - is imagination and anticipation and beautiful images of the sea and of death and of the whaling life. Yet in the end it's all so futile.

"Great God, where is the ship?"

One thing I hadn't counted on about Moby Dick is how even though everyone who hasn't read the novel is well aware of it and the events within, it's not a book you can really know anything about without reading. This is a book, like Ulysses, you have to experience. You have to live through this novel; it has to happen to you. This isn't a story to be told in the normal sense - in fact the book is almost everything but a normal novel after we set sail - this is a book whose art is in forcing you to live the events of the book as if you are on that cursed ship.

Something that really struck me is that our narrator who is so famously introduced to us in one of the great first lines in a book - 'Call me Ishmael' - slowly ghosts away as the novel goes on. What starts as a book about Ishmael's experience getting on the ship and learning about whaling (and the entire science of whales), he lets go of our hand and we begin floating about the Pequod like a disembodied spirit. We overhear everyone's conversations, even their private mutterings, and the point of view expands out to be in all places at all times. It's an unsettling sensation because Melville is physically enlisting onto that ship as a shipmate and after our initial training we are forced to watch the events unfold to their conclusion.

I also had no idea that the novel is not really a novel - not in the traditional sense. Moby Dick is, basically, postmodern but from the 1850's. I had expected a somewhat straightforward novel about the grappling with a whale, not 209,117 pages of epic poetry. I had not expected the novel to still feel so fresh as it must have been when it was written nearing on 200 years ago.

One last thing that I have to confess is that I don't believe Ahab was mad. Obsessed? yes, but not insane. He was a salty captain with 40 years of experience at sea and he knew what he was doing. I don't even think he had a death wish, I just think he saw an opportunity to be truly great and flew at it with everything he had. He was already a great whaler (how else would he have lasted so long?) so he knew he could defeat that fish if he really tried. And I don't see anything wrong with that, too. All those men knew what they were in for and if Starbuck was more of a man he might have stopped Ahab, but Ahab is the sort of person who winds up wither being great or being killed; he is no ordinary person.

He's very American in that way - he'll damn everything to get what he wants.

Overall and beyond all the great themes of the novel is just how damn well it's written. There is nothing like this book. The language is so seductive, the imagery so vivid, everything on that ship and the sea so perfectly realized that there were times I had to pinch myself that this was real. Some of the writing is so good that it almost doesn't even seem possible, as if it were written by some God.

Now that I'm done with the book I'm sad. I've now read Moby Dick and there are only so many great novels in the world worth throwing a harpoon at. But what a voyage getting there!

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • 2008-10-13

Aesthetic experience

Finally! I have experienced Moby Dick at a depth and breadth that allows me to personally appreciate why many consider it a great American novel. Far exceeding my goal of getting me through the chapter about species of whales, this Audible edition involved me to the extent I could experience how incredibly unique (alien, really) and breathtakingly adventurous the life of a whaler was. Now...I wonder...is Ulysses within reach as a potential aesthetic experience?

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • J. Johnson
  • 2015-12-12

not a good way to consume moby dick

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Moby Dick is a dense difficult book with unusual sentences and word usage. Melville has a large lexicon and prioritizes messy thought over linguistic tidiness, as he should. So its not the ideal book to consume on tape in the first place. What makes it worse, however, is that the narrator flies through sentences almost Shakespearean in complexity like it's nothing. If he would slow down and speak clearly instead of trying to talk like a literate pirate, he would have done me a service. I'd find myself relistening to chapters so I could grasp what Melville had written. You really need to be concentrating 100 percent, not driving, not running, not drowsy, not leaning house, just sitting on the couch. And by that point I might as well be reading Moby Dick.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ronnie M. Greher
  • 2006-08-27

The Best!

A great book and a great narrator. What more can you ask for? I only wish there were more of Melville's sea adventure books available as audio books.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful