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Moby Dick: or the Whale

Narrated by: Mark Nelson
Length: 23 hrs and 41 mins
3 out of 5 stars (12 ratings)

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Summary

Moby-Dick is widely considered to be the Great American Novel and a treasure of world literature. The story details the adventures of the wandering sailor Ishmael and his voyage on the whale ship Pequod, commanded by Captain Ahab. Ishmael soon learns that Ahab seeks one specific whale: Moby Dick, a ferocious, enigmatic white sperm whale. In a previous encounter, the whale destroyed Ahab's boat and bit off his leg. And Ahab intends to take revenge.

Public Domain (P)2011 Trout Lake Media

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • S
  • 04-05-16

perseverance required..

only stuck with it to say I had done it, goes on and not much if a story more the biological makeup of whales..

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Great novel, less keen on the narrator

Maybe it's me, I come from a nautical family. Maybe it's the way those words are pronounced in the USA but it spoilt it for me hearing the word gunwales pronounced 'gun wales' and the word forecastle pronounced 'fore castle'. Every time I heard what I consider to be a mispronounciation I found myself shouting 'No...it's fohk suhl' or 'No..it's gun'l ' (forgive my spelling, I can say it but may not be able to spell it phonetically). So I would not recommend this edition with this narrator.
As for the novel...a very slow starter but grew and by the time I was half way through I couldn't wait to get back to it. I'd never seen the film so didn't know what was going to happen and was captivated with the characters. Iconic first line, brilliant ending.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

I know this is a legacy book, but ...

this book was far from my favourite. it is more like a documentary on whaling

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for G.T.
  • G.T.
  • 20-05-12

Solid narration of a timeless classic

What made the experience of listening to Moby Dick: or the Whale the most enjoyable?

I listen to audiobooks on my way to/from work every morning, and this book took me almost two months to listen to, and it was worth every minute. It's one of those feelings of achievement and satisfaction you get only from finishing something worthwhile. I never read this book growing up, and I anticipated it to be hard enough to follow in print, not to mention in audio form. But Mark Nelson did a fabulous job not only managing all the various accents and voice textures, but also in how he handled all the dialects present in the text. I have an appreciation for anyone who reads a book well, and a book like this is twice as difficult to read aloud as a normal novel. Well worth the time spend listening.

What did you like best about this story?

I didn't expect all the tertiary information Melville provided about the whaling trade and life at sea. It was an unexpected, but not unwelcome, addition to what I did expect. The narrative portions themselves were so good I listened to some chapters twice, especially the very last chapter.

Which scene was your favorite?

My favorite scenes have to be when Stubb made the Cook preach to the sharks, and of course the final battle with Moby Dick.

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

I was moved by Ahab's existential reflections toward the end of the book, and I was saddened by Ahab's final benevolent desire to see Starbuck make it back to his family.

Any additional comments?

I never read this book growing up, and I anticipated it to be hard enough to follow in print, not to mention in audio form. But Mark Nelson did a fabulous job not only managing all the various accents and voice textures, but also in how he handled all the dialects present in the text. I have an appreciation for anyone who reads a book well, and a book like this is twice as difficult to read aloud as a normal novel because of all these accents and dialects. Well worth the time spent listening.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Dr. John K. Smith
  • Dr. John K. Smith
  • 10-03-12

Can't beat a well read classic for this price!

Where does Moby Dick: or the Whale rank among all the audiobooks you???ve listened to so far?

I had recently read Moby Dick in print form, then listened to this audio version. Don't know if I could have followed the story on the audio without having read it first... it would have required rapt attention. And an occasional pause to consult the dictionary! This was a very enjoyable listen... and drew me into the story quite powerfully!

What did you like best about this story?

After listening to Moby Dick, I felt like I could hunt, harpoon, skin, and boil down the oil from a whale! While some complain of Melville's excursions into the details of whaling ships, whaling life, and whales, I found it facinating!

Which character ??? as performed by Mark Nelson ??? was your favorite?

Ahab is revealed as a conflicted,

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The cost of revenge... to one and to many.

Any additional comments?

I can see why many consider this one of the best... if not the best... American novel. I know I will be visiting this novel again, and possibly soon.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Vernon
  • 28-02-12

A good story plainly read ... enjoyable.

What did you love best about Moby Dick: or the Whale?

This reading is enjoyable for those who do not care for overdramatic readings. I could actually believe the teller of the tale was a simple deckhand on a ship who was recounting the story. Thank you.

What other book might you compare Moby Dick: or the Whale to and why?

...

Which character – as performed by Mark Nelson – was your favorite?

...

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

This book took a few weeks of road time to listen through.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Gomer Pyle
  • 08-04-12

Accessible Classic

I own a nice leather-bound edition of this book. It's been collecting dust on my bookshelf for almost two decades. I've attempted to read it a few times; however, never made it beyond chapter three.

Thanks to Audible and their $2.95 pricing for this book, I was finally able to experience the brilliance of this story for myself. Sometimes it's nice to have someone else do the reading on these meaty classics.

True, the narration is not the best. The pacing is a bit fast, but still a good listen. Mark Nelson, with this title at least, is more of a reader than a voice actor.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Wayne
  • 21-05-12

Very accessible reading of classic novel

Would you listen to Moby Dick: or the Whale again? Why?

I would definitely want to listen to Moby Dick again. It is such a multi-layered and well-written novel.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Moby Dick: or the Whale?

Of course, the novel revolves around the events leading up to and including the encounter with Moby Dick. Those events provide the most memorable moments of the novel.

What about Mark Nelson’s performance did you like?

Mark Nelson's understated performance is very appropriate to the whalemen depicted in the novel. His use of various voices for the different characters is never overly theatrical.

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

Due to the length and depth of this novel it is best to read it a few chapters at a time. Its relatively short chapters make this book very much suited to the audio format.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Cameron Hinkle
  • 19-06-15

Difficult but it's clear why it's a classic

Lo that more souls would flip these pages, though it be as a tremendous mountain to overcome. The story is epic to be sure but in Mellville's constant metaphoric prose lies the true treasure. And though Nelson's performance comes off as pedestrian at first, his talent shines as the story progresses like the sun rising to its height at noon.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • P. T. Hutter
  • 18-09-13

Excellent Period Rendering of an Amazing Book!

What made the experience of listening to Moby Dick: or the Whale the most enjoyable?

Mark Nelson is brilliant at capturing the characters in this complex story, and his inflections and general character help place the book when and where it was written.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Pumza
  • 28-09-19

Not for me

I just pushed on for the sake of finishing. This is a no thank you mam for me. It started out well and entertaining but the long discourses on the types of whales, uses of whales, etc really taxed me. I caught glimpses of greatness in the book but I’m not the target audience.

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  • jon orourke
  • 26-09-19

A Classic for a Reason

I have been meaning to read Herman Melville's Moby Dick for at least 50 years but never had the time or energy. I've had a beautiful, leather-bound copy on my bookshelf for at least the last 30 years, and I tried twice to read it, but each time I ran out of patience with the unfamiliar, difficult and convoluted mid-19th century language.

But now I'm fully retired and decided a month ago to finally "git-er-done" with an Amazon Audible version which I listened to ... some times actually reading along with my hard copy version. Herewith are some recommendations/points to consider before making the considerable investment of time and effort to "consuming" this true masterpiece.

#1 - Sample the various Amazon Audile versions before selecting the "performance" you buy; there are several audible versions, and I found substantial differences between each.. Choose the version that suites your tempo, style, etc. You'll be spending 25+ hours with the individual.

#2 - It's not at all just a tall sea farer's yarn. It is much, much more. First it includes quite a bit of technical information about a) the US whaling industry around 1840; b) the physical characteristics and behavior of whales in general and the Sperm Whale in particular; c) the physical characteristics of Nantucket whale ships that plied the seas around 1850; d) sailing in general [it helps to study up on technical vocabulary for the various parts of sail ships]; e) the actual processing of the whale carcass once caught and killed; etc.

By the end of the book you will have a greater appreciation for just how dangerous those sails were, how incredibly bloody and vicious the slaughter was. [Melville provides detailed information about how many millions of buffalo were slaughtered to edge of extinction at this time and contrasts the buffalo slaughter with the parallel attempt to slaughter the earth's entire whale population during the same period -- he opines that the immense difficulty in finding and killing whales saved the whales. Also the fortuitous discovery of fossil fuel oil underground in Pennsylvania in 1859. That effectively ended the demand for Sperm Whale oil as a source of energy. Appalling today to think that we humans slaughtered nearly the entire population of these great beasts just for oil for our lighting. [Also appalling to realize that Japan is still slaughtering whales for meat, though numbers have gone down as demand for whale mea in Jaan has decreased in recent decades.]

If you want to listen to or read Moby Dick I recommend that you alsoaccess the several on-line "annotated" versions which are easy to read. The annotations explain all technical terms. as well anachronistic English terms. Quite easy to follow. Moby Dick has 135 chapters [some very short], and in every chapter you will come across vocabulary, technical words, references to Greek, Egyptian mythology, etc. The annotated version provides background explanations that greatly enhance the readers appreciation of Melville's thoughts and ideas.

Melville is an intellectual heavy weight [Melville and Hawthorne were very close], and Moby Dick includes many very 'heavy' thoughts and soliloquys on the nature and origin of all existence, aethiism, animism, racism, economic inequality, unequal political power structures, the meaning of life, the utility or non-utility of religion, whether there is life after death, the need to preserve life all around the earth, truth, cultural differences [the 20 crew members are from every continent corner of the globe, and many different languages and cultures were represented on their ship, the Pequod. a Native American word]

Captain Ahab [named after a Biblical reference to an evil Israeli king who was the husband of evil Jezebel] is an Egyptian sailing master with 40 years of continuous sailing experience [he says in one soliloquy that only 3 of his 40 years as a sailor have been spent on land]. Although technically more than well-qualiifed and able to lead his crew of 20, he also suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Behavior. As the story unfolds, his obsession, mental stability and decision-making abilities gradually deteriorate into full-blown madness.

There are two narrators -- 1 -- Ishmael ["Call me Ismael" the young sailor who is the sole survivor and the principle narrator ... & who parallels Herman Melville's own extensive sailing experience, including those on whaling ships. 2 - There is also a third person narrator/author. In addition, there are several chapters that read like a screenplay for a Shakespeare play ... just dialogue between 2 or 3 people, or a single person soliloquy. Interesting author's technique. This is not a starightforward seafarer's tale/story. Much more complicated. Keeps you on your toes.

If you have Amazon Prime or Netflix I'd also recommend watching a few of the many film versions of Moby Dick. For me it was interesting to see how director's, producers and writers treated the novel, emphasizing different themes and aspects of the massive work. [Interesting back story: When first published, Moby Dick was a complete failure ... didn't sell or make a profit, even though Melville was already an established and serious novelist with several best sellers to his credit. For 70 years Moby Dick sat unread & unappreciated until Hollywood decided to make its first movie version -- starring John Barrymore. This first silent movie version of Moby Dick, though very distorted, revived interest in the novel. Then came the Gregory Peck version [Ray Badbury wrote the screenplay] which really increased interest in and demand for, and appreciation of the novel. I liked best the 2010 movie version with William Hurt as Ahab and Ethan Hawke as Starbuck. There are several other versions. I also found as useful background the documentary on the true story of the whaling ship "Essex" that was sunk by an attacking whale and on which Moby Dick was based. Amazon Prime also has a few documentary discussions of the novel by professors who have studied and teach courses on this immense novel. Interesting that Moby Dick lay completely ignored by the public for 70 years, and now they are teaching college courses on it today. Gives hope to unrecognized writers.

Not an easy read or study by any means, [much of it reads like poetry]. but it's well worth the effort if you have the time and inclination. :-jor

  • Overall
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  • Josh
  • 16-09-19

Very long and meandering

I want to love Classics. Honestly, I do. And I thought Moby Dick would be the one to cure me of my frustration at some other recent listens. But it really didn’t. I admit to have fazed out frequently in the 24 hour listen. The narrator was ok but his accents with the sailors was unimpressive. I would not recommend this audiobook.