Introduction by Elizabeth Hardwick
Illustrations by Rockwell Kent
First published in 1851, Herman Melville's masterpiece is, in Elizabeth Hardwick's words, "the greatest novel in American literature." The saga of Captain Ahab and his monomaniacal pursuit of the white whale remains a peerless adventure story but one full of mythic grandeur, poetic majesty, and symbolic power. Filtered through the consciousness of the novel's narrator, Ishmael, "Moby-Dick" draws us into a universe full of fascinating characters and stories, from the noble cannibal Queequeg to the natural history of whales, while reaching existential depths that excite debate and contemplation to this day.
About the Author
Herman Melville was an American novelist, poet, and lecturer best known for his classic novel Moby-Dick, as well as for his short fiction "Bartleby, the Scrivener," and the unfinished "Billy Budd, Sailor." Educated as a teacher and later as an engineer, Melville's writing was heavily influenced by his time aboard the whaling ship Acushnet, and his month-long captivity by Typee natives on Nuka Hiva island. Although Melville experienced success early in his writing career, public indifference to his masterpiece, Moby-Dick, resulted in waning attention, and his work was almost entirely disregarded by the time of this death in 1891. Melville's work experienced a revival in the early twentieth century, and he is now considered one of the pre-eminent American writers of his time. He is also one of the most-studied novelists, and was the first writer to be collected and published by the Library of America.
Elizabeth Hardwick is the author of many books and essays, including "Herman Melville" (Penguin Lives), "Sleepless Nights," and "American Fictions," available as a Modern Library paperback. She lives in New York City.
ROCKWELL KENT (1872 - 1971) is perhaps best known for his illustrations for The Complete Works of William Shakespeare and Moby Dick. Kent also created the "random house" that, despite revision throughout the years, has been the colophon of that company since its inception in 1928. Kent's other travel books include N by E, Wilderness, and Voyaging, all reissued by Wesleyan/UPNE.
DOUG CAPRA teaches English in Seward, Alaska, where he has lived since 1971. He has written two books on Seward history and spent many years researching and writing about Kent in Alaska. His articles on Kent have appeared in such publications as Alaska Magazine and The Kent Collector.