Moby Dick – Review

“A good laugh is a mighty good thing, and rather too scarce a good thing; the more’s the pity.  So, if any one man, in his own proper person, afford stuff for a good joke to anybody, let him not be backward, but let him cheerfully allow himself to spend and be spent in that way.  And the man that has anything bountifully laughable about him, be sure there is more in that man than you perhaps think for.”

Moby Dick by Herman Melville started off with a few laughs and I thought to myself, this book is going to be a great adventure in sailing and whaling with my humorous narrator Ishmael. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when Ishamel meets his bedmate, encounters Queequeg a pagan cannibal. In my mind he screams like a crazy person. Ishamel quickly realizes “…a man can be honest in any sort of skin”. The two become friends and they make their way to whaling ship, the Pequod, with the onorous Captain Ahab who remains unseen for some time.

At this point in the narrative I’ll say I’m very thankful for audiobooks because there is no way I would have had the motivation to keep going (well I did read this with a buddy and that was encouragement too because the majority of the group DNF’d).

I’m sure there’s some symbolism and themes in this book I could chat about but bear with me as I share my abbreviated bullet point review:

  • Ishamel meets his bestie who’s a cannibal pagan but he loves him anyway
  • Captain Ahab is a crazy deranged man bent on revenge
  • Insert random tangent here
  • A journey of indefinite length on the Pequod to find Moby Dick
  • Insert more random tangents that include incredible amounts of whale information (I should probably be a whale scholar after this book but…)
  • Senseless and brutal attacks on whales minding their own business (see bullet 2)
  • Lots of tangents about the many types of whales and how many teeth they have

I’ll stop here because the last several chapters of the book were incredible. Lots of suspense and when Moby shows up I am holding my breath and I realize I’ve care more about him than Captain Ahab.

Lessons learned

  • Revenge is pointless – whales are bigger and stronger, leave them alone
  • Don’t be an idiot like Ahab and chase after revenge (see bullet 1)

“For we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending.”

This review is cynical yes, the discussion I had with my friend who finished with me was a lot of fun so this pays homage to our classics journey to date. I got a bit sea sick on the Pequod; I also was devastated by the brutal hunting of the whales. I’d say read the first 50 chapters, skip ahead and read the last 10 chapters and the book is OUTSTANDING.

I suppose this is one of those books you read for the experience, the journey and surviving to the end of a tumultuous adventure. Life and death, morality and immorality, purity and impurity are themes one can explore. But dear reader, I finished the book, the journey is over and I’m very happy to be off the Pequod on dry land with another book (and tea) in hand.

“Human madness is oftentimes a cunning and most feline thing.  When you think it fled, it may have but become transfigured into still subtler form.  Ahab’s full lunacy subsided not, but deepeningly contracted…”

Have you read Moby Dick? Tell me why you loved it or why you didn’t.

Published by booksbythecup

Lover of good books and tea

20 thoughts on “Moby Dick – Review

  1. Hello! I just found your blog after Fiction Fan featured you on her blog. I love Fiction Fan and have been blog friends with her for years, so I trust what she says.

    I have never read Moby Dick, nor do I think I was assigned to at any point. I was assigned Billy Budd, another Melville book, though Billy Budd is a novella. Even that novella is painfully long, and it has homoerotic undertones that I found confusing because I couldn’t figure out if Melville didn’t know what he was doing, or if he wanted his book to be about sexuality.

    I really like your attitude in your review and look forward to coming back for your next review! I’m Melanie, and I blog over at and am always looking for chatty blog buddies.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Melanie! I’m Shell very nice to meet you. I’m so glad Fiction Fan is helping me find other bloggers to chat with. I like chatting too and wondered sometimes if I’m way over some time or not engaging enough. I’m such a novice but I will talk someone’s head off about books and tea. I’m going to check out your blog now. Thanks again for stopping by and introducing yourself. 😊


      1. I’m the kind of book blogger who develops friendships. I’m not in it for the likes. In fact, I disabled my “like” button a few months ago and have been super happy ever since. Some bloggers and I have become close enough that we email and text about other things, so I might be one of the too chatty types, lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hahaha! Brilliant review! And I’m so glad we felt almost exactly the same way about Moby and Ahab – I knew we were kindred spirits! I had so much fun being horrible about this book for weeks while I was reading it that I actually feel quite affectionate towards it now. πŸ˜‰ I promise I don’t normally leave links to my own blog but I thought you might enjoy this…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. πŸ˜‚ Thank you so much! I’m glad I’m not the only one (along with my book bestie who read this with me) that felt this way, your review was perfection. I laughed so hard, especially with the Skyping the Greenpeace because Ahab was insane. #MobyinMay🐳 is all over now. I think some books leave you with a bit of trauma (can we talk War and Peace) but afterwards you can find humor in talking about it. For W&P it was #TipsyAfterTolstoy. I wrote that review on my IG before starting my blog but maybe I should post it here for some more laughs and fun?!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha – I love #TipsyAfterTolstoy! Yes, do post your review! I read it before I was blogging so don’t have a review, but I still bear the emotional scars… πŸ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I am amusing myself at least, in commenting on this post, because I’ve never read the book and thanks to you and Fiction Fan’s wonderful, entertaining reviews, I never shall! πŸ˜‚ Though I will get around to watching the classic film; FF assures me that’s worth a viewing 😊

    So I’m here with nothing insightful to add, except that I loved the way you tackled this. And I’m looking forward to reading some of your older posts. We overlap on several books (including The Good Earth which I’m assuming falls into the same category as Cannery Row in being a difficult one to find the words for). And Emma – oh, I struggled with Emma. Maybe that’s where I should begin!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like I might watch the film, but if I get any indication it’s turning into the book I will skip to the end. πŸ˜‚ I enjoyed FF’s review, it was so funny and I look forward to getting to know more about many of the kind people I’ve met via the CC. Thank you so much for reading this one and leaving a comment.

      I am going to look back over my book notes for Cannery, I read that one months ago (and just read Sweet Thursday last month so need to review that one too).

      Laugh at this, my review for The Good Earth is ready, I need to take a picture for that one. πŸ™ˆ

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Believe me, Shell, you are doing so brilliantly compared to me: I have so many books that I’d love to write about and still they sit here, staring at me! I’ll look forward to The Good Earth when it’s ready. And if you do get to writing something for Cannery Row, you might inspire me to do the same!

    (btw, I love your pictures!)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for this review…and I agree completely with points made.
    I NEVER would have finished this book without the audio version nudging me along for weeks
    as I started blankly out of a commuter train window.

    Liked by 1 person

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