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Moby Dick

Narrated by: Frank Muller
Length: 21 hrs and 19 mins
4 out of 5 stars (206 ratings)
Regular price: £36.69
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Summary

Its famous opening line, "Call me Ishmael," dramatic in its stark simplicity, begins an epic that is widely regarded as the greatest novel ever written by an American. Labeled variously a realistic story of whaling, a romance of unusual adventure and eccentric characters, a symbolic allegory, and a drama of heroic conflict, Moby Dick is first and foremost a great story. It has both the humor and poignancy of a simple sea ballad, as well as the depth and universality of a grand odyssey. When Melville's father died in 1832, the young man's financial security went too. For a while he turned to school-mastering and clerking, but failed to make a sustainable income. In 1840 he signed up on the whaler, Acushnet, out of New Bedford, Massachusetts. He was just 21. A whaler's life turned out to be both arduous and dangerous, and in 1842, Melville deserted ship. Out of this experience and a wealth of printed sources, Melville crafted his masterpiece.
©1987 Recorded Books, LLC. (P)1987 Recorded Books, LLC.

Critic reviews

"Master narrator Frank Muller makes the most of his astonishing theatrical talents and vast experience to perform this tale of extraordinary drama. Muller uses emphasis and pauses to bring clarity to the visual depictions of life on the high seas, as seen by the doe-eyed Ishmael as he is led by the maniacal Captain Ahab. Listeners will hear the depth of emotions in Muller's voice as he paints the stark and shattering visuals of this classic story of revenge and, ultimately, survival." (AudioFile magazine)   

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    94
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A Classic

Everybody knows the story of Moby Dick so there is no point in trying to critique it. The narrator is Frank Muller and he is fantastic. I first heard Muller reading Sea Wolf available in Audible.com but unfortunately not the UK equivelant. Muller has the perfect voice for adventure yarns and his reading of Moby Dick is so well suited. I was saddened by his untimely death as I consider him one of the best audiobook narrators. It is he that makes this classic novel very much a classic audiobook.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Essential listening

Two things i've been doing for many years; listening to audiobooks and trying to read Moby Dick-normally getting about 3 pages in and giving up, and then telling people what a load of rubbish it is. Frank Muller is for me the king of narrators, and he deftly brings each of the characters in Melville's masterpiece to life,as a result i now consider Moby Dick to be the best book i've ever 'read', and by a nautical mile the best audiobook i've ever listened to. Essential.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Great narration, but Melville needed an editor

If you've already decided you're going to listen to this famous American novel, this is a great edition to pick: Frank Muller is an absolutely joy to listen to. His pitch and speed are very easy to listen to, and he handles the wide variety of characters, scenes and expositions expertly. Highly recommended.

On the other hand, if you're trying to make your mind up about the novel itself it's not so clear. While Moby Dick has a great central story, it's not nearly as long as its enormous length implies. This regular length story is padded with an enormous amount of detail. Most, but by no means all, of this detail is interesting, but having sections of encyclopaedia unapologetically crammed into various parts of the story is jarring. Melville could have done with a good editor, who would hopefully have forced him to weave the pertinent detail into the story and leave the rest out!

The other issue is the characters' use of language. The novel was published in 1851, so obviously you'd expect a certain amount of archaic language. However, I suspect that this dialogue would have been considered flowery and archaic even in 1851. Pompous, even.

I don't want to leave you with the impression that it's a bad book: it's not. I have enjoyed it, and its insight into whaling in the first half of the 19th century. However, despite its reputation, it's certainly not without some significant flaws.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

The Reader makes it.

Would you listen to Moby Dick again? Why?

The depth of interpretation from Muller is magnificent.
I am British born Irish, maybe we hear differently ? I too tried to read this as a youngster, and gave up. This rescues the book for me and the relevance of all sections of the story are clear.

What did you like best about this story?

The story is a wonderful attempt at the Classical; Odysseus and all that.
But it is tied to one era and serves that well. It is educational from the need to take your harpoon to bed with you to the nature of ships' captains houses and of the chapels.

Have you listened to any of Frank Muller’s other performances? How does this one compare?

All Muller did was very, very good. This is the most demanding and the most successful.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I think not possible; it is too long. But in the sense that once in you do not want to let go - Yes.

Any additional comments?

Don't be dissuaded by the length of the book nor the departures into emotional description.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

An amazing classic

I came to listen to this book having seen the film and with some knowledge of the story. But the book has more in it than I could ever have imagined. It is truly a work of great fiction. The main story itself is only probably a tenth of the book. The other nine tenths contains tales and facts which will entertain, amaze, inform you and even make you smile. Reading the book would always be a daunting prospect but not so listening to it read by a master story teller, Frank Muller, it is sheer joy. I heard his voice in my head long after I stopped listening. I cannot recommend this audio too highly.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Thank heavens for audio

What did you like most about Moby Dick?

It is genuinely funny in places. It's interesting. It's atmospheric. At times it feels like you're travelling to distant parts of the globe. There are great characters. Melville varies the storytelling format.I can't say I loved every chapter, and there were occasions when I felt like screaming, "Enough already with the whale documentaries!" And just when you thought there was really nothing more to say about that particular species of fish (and yes, Ishmael insists whales *are* fish, several times) he comes out with something else to say about them. He tells us all about their heads, their noses (really!), their teeth (did you know they don't have fillings? thanks, Ish, I never would have guessed), their tongues, their tales and so on and so on and so on...As other reviewers have noted, only a fraction of the book is actual narrative. But when Melville is in storytelling mode, he's amazing!

What was one of the most memorable moments of Moby Dick?

A scene quite late on [so SPOILERS] when Ahab's obsession has got way out of hand. He's just pulled a gun on Starbuck, his first mate. Starbuck, knowing he can't impress Ahab himself, says, "Ahab, beware Ahab!" And Ahab responds as if he's received a deserved slap, and actually changes his behaviour. A little. For a while.

What does Frank Muller bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

The simple matter is, I would never have persevered. I'd been meaning to read the book since around 1980 because Philip Jose Farmer had written a sequel to it, but was put off by its huge size (it's a whale of a book - ha ha, bet nobody else has ever made that joke!), its age, its subject matter (I was wearing a Save The Whale badge at the time) and the fact that I didn't read anything other than science fiction at the time.So, three and a half decades later I thought, hey, maybe I could listen to it instead!I've given Muller 5 stars because his reading is excellent. Not only does he do different voices for each character, he manages to convey a bantering double-act. ("I never drink--" "Water!") He never sounds bored, not even when he's got to the bit where Ishmael describes every last bone of a whale's skeleton. When Melville decides to write a chapter in the form of a play, Muller differentiates between dialogue and stage directions.Despite all this, I still recommend having a copy of the novel to hand and dipping into it from time to time, sometimes reading and listening at the same time.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Not exactly. Although there was a chapter title quite late on which gave me a jolt. It's a two-word title; the first word is "Queequeg's".

Any additional comments?

I am just so happy to have this monster of a classic under my belt. I expect I'll dip into the printed novel from time to time, and maybe listen to a dramatised or abridged version - one that doesn't have a chapter on the size of a blow-hole, or a chapter on things other than white whales that are white.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

This is the one

Yes, its long, and sometimes you want to give up, but dont because duration is its theme and this is a novel you live with while reading and thereafter. And there are several audio versions, but Muller's the definitive one.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Moby Dick

Evocative, crafted and clever. This book is a masterpiece of storytelling as carefully honed as a walnut skinned whaler's personal harpoon.



This is a thoroughly enjoyable classic. If you haven't listened to it yet, then do.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

A good reading of a very overrated book

A pretty good reading of one of the most overrated books out there. Sorry to the narrator, because he deserves better, but I'd recommend giving this one a miss.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Very long winded but wisdom worth hearing

I enjoyed this story, but could have been more to the point. Found to be over cooked with metaphor. The story is very padded out with wasteful chapters that I just had to skip. The beginning brilliant right up to going aboard the Nantucket. I'm glad to hear that even back then the authors feelings about false Christians and how would prefer a genuine heathen and different perspectives on life (something I've come across my self; no one has greater value than the other). Good words of wisdom. But then by chapter 36 was losing the will to live. So skipped the end; poor old Ahab got shafted the end! No more arrrring for that guy. But one final note is a classic piece of literature that I'm glad to tick off my reading list.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Dave
  • 09-05-12

I Had No Idea Melville Was So Funny

I put off Moby Dick for a long time due to an experience in high school with Billy Budd. I didn't think I wanted to read this one, but was eventually swayed by some friends. Thankfully! Moby Dick's a thrilling adventure story full of depth and gravity and horror. It certainly earns its reputation as an American Classic. What surprised me, though, was how funny Melville is. I didn't realize he had such a sense of humor.

Muller's reading is, of course, a benchmark of excellence. He made this story come alive for me in ways I didn't think it could. I'm so glad I finally decided to give this one a chance.

79 of 83 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • C.B.E.
  • 03-09-11

Renewed appreciation

My attention span as a reader has decreased over the past decade - thanks, Internet - but I was thrilled to have "Moby Dick" read to me by Frank Muller, who did a great job. I knew I loved this book when I was younger, despite all my failed attempts to re-read as an adult. I'd rank it right up there in my top 10, and put it on my list of "difficult books worth reading" (which includes "Ulysses," "Gravity's Rainbow," "Under the Volcano," "The Sound and the Fury" and more).

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Joseph
  • 27-01-10

It's a classic, you just have to accept that.

First, the story. It's been described by enough reviews that I can't add to it, so I'll just say that about a quarter of the story is some of the best action sequences and intricate character interactions you will ever read even compared to modern writers, and about three fourths of the story is exposition about whaling and whales and the culture of 19th century whalers that is fascinating, educational, critical to the story, and not always easy to stay awake through.

Second, the reader. If you've heard Frank Muller read Stephen King, forget that. He is completely different in this. He is vivid, crisp, and quick, and that is a lifesaver in this work. Even in passages about whales and their classifications, he maintains a lively inflection that might help you through it.

If you've ever tried and failed to read Moby Dick, try this reading of it. If you still can't get through it, give it up. This is the best chance you have, and yes, it is well worth it to do so.

I gave it a five because it is a tremendous reading of a classic, moreso than any judgement about the classic itself. I love it, but it's not Dan Brown, for better and worse.

74 of 81 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Livelightly
  • 09-02-11

Muller is e3xceptional

I have learned to seek out the books read by now deceased Frank Muller, and found Moby-Dick because I thought it would be challenging enough to bring out his best. Indeed it does. I had read the book myself a couple of times, more or less because I thought an educated man needed to. Now that I have heard Muller's interpretation I can see the greatness of the book. No women in it, of course. Muller does women better than any other male reader.... Don't miss this. Also the books he read by Cormac McCarthy. His loss is a great one to the book world.

53 of 58 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mark
  • 28-03-10

A Pleasure!

My preference is almost always the interior narrator: the voice in my head when I am reading silently to myself, and I have read this book so many times--and yet Muller does a wonderful job with the voice of Ishmael, street-wise, ship-wise, and philisophical, truly rendering the epic drama and poem of Moby Dick. Moreover, I think the lined poems, the songs, the epigrams, dialogs and monologues, those "extra" parts of the narrative, all seem welded into the story by Muller's reading. Really great!

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Brendon
  • 18-01-09

An American Classic!

The narrator does good job with this epic, though a bit cliche. How else do you characterize the voices of sea dogs other than what you already expect? Otherwise, a gripping and poetic story, full of subdued (and therefore more humorous) jabs at Christian society and the customs of the age. It is sometimes difficult to follow the tangents into deep descriptions of the whale (especially considering how far marine biology has come), but the payoff is in the plethora of one-liners that zing into timelessness. Not having read the book previously, I was amazed at how many references are made to this book in pop culture. Some are obvious, others not so much. Either way, this book has enough to keep you interested to the finish and the narrator keeps the characterizations enlivened so that the result is an entertaining and fecund experience.

58 of 64 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Alice
  • 17-10-09

I felt totally swept up in this world

I liked this book in its print form, a lot. But I have to say that the audio version is even better. Frank Muller is an absolute genius. He can do everything -- from a Nantucket innkeeper, to all of the various accents on board the Pequod, and even the dialect of a freed slave. I hope I can find more of his work.

35 of 39 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Samantha Dunaway Bryant
  • 17-08-17

Excellent Narration kept me afloat

This was my second attempt to assail the infamous white whale. The first time I was a mere landlubber of some twenty years. Now I'm seasoned old salt (at least of the literary seas) of two score and six. That alone may have made some difference. I also listened to it as an audio book this time. I'm sure that helped, keeping me focused when my eye might have wandered. In any case, I loved it. This narrator was perfect, neither over nor under dramatic, able to represent all the varied types of chapters well.

What I remembered was that, after an engaging beginning, the book became a slog. And it is assuredly a challenging book. I still found it so. It took me a solid month to read, even on summer vacation when I have much more time to read than life normally affords me.

Not only is it nearly as big a tome as Moby Dick is a whale, it changes tone from chapter to chapter. Sometimes it seems a comedy with a snarky narrator entertaining us with portraits of whalers and their lives. Sometimes it seems an erudite study of the creatures and ways of the sea. Sometimes it seems a philosopher's meanderings through an inner seascape, searching for morality and meaning. Sometimes it seems a Shakespearean tragedy on a rolling seawater soaked stage. I can see why it wasn't an insta-hit when it was new, especially if you'd come to it as a fan of Melville's more straightforward sea adventure stories.

My love might also be because 2017 has been my year for poetry. I was sucked in completely by the language, losing myself in gorgeous descriptive passages, wonderful word play, and compelling metaphors. I wore out my bookmark button marking striking passages. And they weren't all in the "plot" chapters. Beautiful language and deep thoughts abound in the "whaling" chapters, too. At times, I could hear echoes of Whitman, Coleridge, Irving, Poe, Darwin, Hawthorne. It seems Melville's masterwork taps into that romantic flowing zeal of the 1800s that marked so many of the works of the era.

I'm glad I came back to this book and gave it another chance. Sometimes, perhaps, it's not about the book itself, but about whether it's your time for reading it.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Andrew
  • 09-10-13

Tremendously Eloquent

I never would have imagined that the adventures of a group of whalers could be so eloquently relayed to a reader, but here's the book that does just that! Herman Melville's expression of even the simplest ideas are given with such incredible phrases that one has to sometimes rewind the narrative (I did, at least) in order to be sure they actually heard what their ears reported. His eloquent use of alliteration was of such spectacular skill that several scenes stood steadily in sight, stuff that easily brings a smile to to a serene listener's face.

We immediately are encountered by social dilemmas of racism and conflicting religious beliefs when Ishmael meets Queequeg for the first time. Fear is the first thing that Ishmael expresses, though he and Queequeg quickly become friends before they even head out on their voyage. On the ship, the existence of good and evil, even of a reigning deity, are examined as we hear of the history and beliefs of other shipmates. All in all, it's a diligent group of men who are either running from their lives on land or searching for something better than the lands from whence they came, even if it's something as simple as adventure.

Mr Frank Muller is an excellent narrator of the book and, though his accents for various characters are very subtle, they're still enough of a change to inform the listener that a new character is speaking, or that Ishmael's commentary has begun again. At times the narrative was so exciting and high-paced that I couldn't have understood what was being said without following along in my book, but, aside from that small glitch, the performance was fantastic. Mr Muller did a great job in delivering sometimes complicated phrases from an amazing author. Very well done, sir!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Dave
  • 09-05-12

I Had No Idea Melville Was So Funny

I put off Moby Dick for a long time due to an experience in high school with Billy Budd. I didn't think I wanted to read this one, but was eventually swayed by some friends. Thankfully! Moby Dick's a thrilling adventure story full of depth and gravity and horror. It certainly earns its reputation as an American Classic. What surprised me, though, was how funny Melville is. I didn't realize he had such a sense of humor.

Muller's reading is, of course, a benchmark of excellence. He made this story come alive for me in ways I didn't think it could. I'm so glad I finally decided to give this one a chance.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful