Author: HERMAN MELVILLE
Translator: Seok-Hee Kim
Publisher: Jag Ga Jeong Sin
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About This Book
Moby-Dick is a novel by Herman Melville. It was first published in expurgated
form as The Whale on October 18, 1851, and then in full on November 14, 1851, in
the United States. Moby-Dick's style was revolutionary for its time:
descriptions in intricate, imaginative, and varied prose of the methods of
whale-hunting, the adventure, and the narrator's reflections interweave the
story's themes with a huge swath of Western literature, history, religion,
mythology, philosophy, and science. Although its initial reception was
unfavorable, Moby-Dick is now considered to be one of the canonical novels in
the English language, and has secured Melville's reputation in the first rank of
Moby-Dick follows the crew of the Pequod, led by Captain Ahab, a Quaker, on a whaling expedition that takes them around the world. The expedition soon degenerates into a monomaniacal hunt for the legendary "Great White Whale", as Ahab seeks revenge on the animal that cost him a leg. Contrary to what many readers believe, the scar down Ahab's side was not given to him by Moby Dick, although it is never revealed where he did receive the scar.
The plot was inspired in part by the November 20, 1820, sinking of the whaleship Essex (a whaling ship from Nantucket, Massachusetts). The ship went down 2,000 miles (3,700 km) from the western coast of South America after it was attacked by an 80-ton Sperm Whale. The story was recounted by the survivor Thomas Nickerson in his Narrative of the Most Extraordinary and Distressing Shipwreck of the Whale-Ship Essex. Moby-Dick also undoubtedly draws on Melville's experiences as a sailor, and in particular on his voyage on the whaler Acushnet in 1841?1842. Melville left no other account of his career as a whaler, so we can only guess as to the extent to which Moby-Dick is a roman a clef (like his previous novels Typee, Omoo, Redburn, and White-Jacket), and how much is wholly invented. However, it is known that there was a real-life albino sperm whale, known as Mocha Dick, that lived near the island of Mocha several decades before Melville wrote his book. Mocha Dick, like Moby Dick in Melville's story, had escaped countless times from the attacks of whalers (and consequently had dozens of harpoons in his back), who he would often attack with premeditated ferocity. Mocha Dick was eventually killed in the 1830s. No one knows what prompted Melville to change the name "Mocha" to "Moby," but given that Mocha Dick was an albino sperm whale, it is obvious that Melville used him as a basis for his book.
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