Moby Dick is one of those books that everyone has heard about long before they ever read it. My first exposure was, believe it or not, an episode of “The U.S. of Archie” in which Archie and the Gang went a’ whaling with Herman Melville (Hey, it was the 1970s, what can I say.) Then, after years of hearing about it, seeing the Gregory Peck movie of it, hearing it quoted in “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan”, drinking Starbucks coffee (named for the First Mate of the Pequod), and essentially knowing when I saw references to it in our culture, I decided to read it. My reaction? Very similar to the first quote below. Read on and you’ll find that these critical reviews of Moby Dick are as sharp as Ahab’s harpoons:
“Whatever you do, don’t read it” advised a close friend. I thought that it couldn’t be as bad as that….but it was. After a great start, the narrative wallows for a seeming eternity before, I felt, that Melville decided that he’d better draw all this to an end, as he had finished impressing himself, and proceeded to do so in a few rushed pages.
…and finally this reviewer, who is either mixing his sailors (Hook, Ahab) or his beasts (Crocodile, Whale):