Back in High School they held us down and forced Melville’s prose into our rebellious brains and we hated it. Later in college I actually picked up The Great White Whale on my own and read it one summer at the beach in between the earlier William Golding novels with the lurid covers. I liked it and considered Moby Dick an excellent exercise in converting well crafted prose into opportunities for literary analysis.
That was many years ago and I have read the novel, I believe, two more times, once with an online reading group. Like so many classics, each reading seems richer and more rewarding (this doesn’t apply to Jane Eyre which is the same every time you read it).
I was surprised and interested when the New York Times included a review of a new book called Why Read Moby-Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick. I certainly intend to read this one and suspect that a few other readers might also be interested. For those that have not as yet read Melville, you might be surprised at how readable he actually is (some of his earlier works like Typee are actually considered Juvenile Fiction so how hard can he be?).
So put Herman Melville on you near-future reading list and don’t forget Moby Dick.