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Thread: Advice on Reading Moby Dick

  1. #1
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    Advice on Reading Moby Dick

    I enjoy reading classics, and I want to read Moby Dick in English, which happens to be my second language. I wanted to see if you have any advice for me, since I've heard it's a bit hard, even for native speakers. I don't have any experience in reading literature in my non-native languages, however I am reading Philip Roth's Goodbye Columbus (in English), because I realized it may be a good idea to start by books that are easier to read before jumping onto Moby Dick.

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    Registered User Iain Sparrow's Avatar
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    My advice is stay well clear of Moby Dick.
    It's not that it isn't a classic of American Literature and for its time an innovative work of fiction, it's because the narrative style is so cumbersome and heavy by today's standards that you'll have to shake yourself awake after a few chapters.

    Far more interesting and worth your time, is reading the true life accounts of the whaling ship Essex, that inspired Herman Melville's story, Moby Dick.
    Read instead, 'In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex', by Nathaniel Philbrick.

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I am currently reading it. Some of it is rather difficult to follow. I did not entirely understand the chapter I read this morning for example. It is quite a long book. It also contains a lot of nineteenth century whaling terminology, so you would need a good dictionary. In its favour is that many of its chapters are very short.

    Edit: another thing that makes it difficult to follow is its lyrical style.
    Last edited by kev67; 08-17-2016 at 01:23 PM.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    I advise to read Moby Dick, but take it in very small bits and try to understand each word of each chapter. Reading Melville will broaden your vocabulary every day, and will improve how you speak to others and the formality in your voice. It also really gives a thorough story and paints a thorough picture to help your imagination when reading future works that may not go into such specific detail, and you'll be able to discern the difference.

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