A Note to the First Time Reader

        MOBY-DICK is a long, long story -- written in an exciting, but often obscure style. There are many levels to it, but the most accessible are two: one -- the adventure story of Captain Ahab and the Great White Whale; and two -- an in-depth discussion of Sperm Whales: their characteristics, and how they were hunted, captured, and turned into oil in the early 19th century.

        To get a once-over-lightly perspective, it may be profitable to skim or skip over the chapters dealing exclusively with the details of whale anatomy and the methods of procuring oil from the whale. It must be emphasized that even these, mostly technical chapters, are replete with Melville s genius for drawing profound insights from the most mundane activities and routine situations. All of Moby-Dick should be read as Melville wrote it.

        With this disclaimer I suggest 57 chapters out of the total one hundred thirty five that might be skimmed or skipped over the first time through.

On to Moby-Dick: A Quick Overview