Herman Melville’s famous story, Moby Dick, also known as The Whale, is a novel that was published in America in 1851. The story follows the sailor Ishmael’s retelling of the quest of Captain Ahab, who was captaining the whaling ship Pequod whom Ishmael served with. Ahab was on a quest for revenge against the whale that had bitten off his leg during a previous voyage.
The novel was not as successful during its release as it is today, with the novel having gone out of print by the time of the author’s death. It wasn’t until roughly 100 years after the birth of Melville that the book gained the success that it deserved, with renowned author William Faulkner admitting that he wished that he himself had written the book.
Melville first began writing Moby Dick in February 1850, taking him over 18 months to write, which was roughly a year longer than he thought it would have taken. His writing was often interrupted when Melville made acquaintances with Nathaniel Hawthorne in August 1850. This friendship had a great impact on Melville, and while it did take a toll on his writing time, it is speculated that without the friendship the story would not have been what it became. Melville acknowledged this and dedicated the book to Hawthorne, stating that the book was a token of his appreciate for the genius that Hawthorne possessed.
Melville drew on his own experience from working on a whaling ship, the Acushnet, incorporating a number of things that he learned into the book, adding a note of authenticity to the story. The book has been reprinted a number of times and has been translated into multiple languages around the world.