Skip to main content

Moby Dick | The Great American Read

Moby Dick cover

Moby Dick

by Herman Melville

“Call me Ishmael.” And so begins one the most famous journeys in literature—the voyage of the whaling ship Pequod, with its scarred Captain Ahab and a universe of compelling crewmen, including the islander Queequeg, the harpooneer Fedallah, the mate Elijah, and Ishmael himself. Ishmael quickly learns that the Pequod’s manaical captain sails for revenge against the elusive Moby Dick, a sperm whale with a snow-white hump and mottled skin who scuttled Ahab’s former vessel and left him crippledduring his last whaling voyage. As the Pequod sails deeper through the nights and into the sea, the divisions between man and nature begin to blur—as do the lines between good and evil, as the fates of the ship’s crewmen become increasingly unclear...

Discover a discussion guide for this and other books on the list from the Great Books Foundation.

Herman Melville

Herman Melville (1819-1891), son of a New York merchant, and spent much of his youth as a crew member aboard several ships. Settling in Massachusetts, he wrote several novels and stories based on his travels and the human psyche, including Moby-Dick.