"It is the horrible texture of a fabric that should be woven of ships' cables and hawsers. A Polar wind blows through it, and birds of prey hover over it."
So Melville wrote of his masterpiece, one of the greatest works of imagination in literary history. In part, Moby Dick is the story of an eerily compelling madman pursuing an unholy war against a creature as vast and dangerous and unknowable as the sea itself. But more than just a novel of adventure, more than an encyclopedia of whaling lore and legend, the book can be seen as part of its author's lifelong meditation on America. Moby Dick can be read as a 'disorderly elegy' to democracy, which Melville saw threatened on many sides: by the spirit of utilitarianism, by America's accelerating pace of expansionism, and by the drive toward industrial power. Written with wonderfully redemptive humour, this is also a profound enquiry into character, faith, and the nature of perception.