Why Read Moby-Dick?

Despite reading Nathaniel Philbrick’s brief little treatise, Why Read Moby-Dick, I’m still asking myself this question.  Really.

Ok, I read Moby-Dick while doing a master’s degree in American Studies.  I get it–it’s a classic and I was doing a degree where reading the tome makes sense.  But seriously, what did I get out of it?  Not a lot.  I don’t think that I “got” the book at all.

But Philbrick’s explanation of the book and its importance makes total sense.  Why didn’t the professor I had THEN make these points about the book?  Maybe he didn’t “get” it either, but just required the text because, well, it’s a classic.

So–do I think you should read Moby-Dick.  Let me recommend to you that you read Philbrick’s Why Read Moby-Dick instead.  Or, if you feel like that’s dishonest, read Philbrick’s little book first.  Or read it afterward.  Or read it WHILE you are reading Moby-Dick.

The whole Moby-Dick thing will make so much more SENSE if Philbrick’s holding your hand through it.

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