The Guardian

Hope, love and fear: why Moby-Dick is the perfect novel for our times | Paul Daley

I’d read it before but this time I found Captain Ahab more disturbed – and disturbing
‘Those who haven’t read the novel might have seen John Huston’s 1956 movie with Gregory Peck as Ahab. Regardless, most know it doesn’t end well as they sail into darkness, toward that spectacular moment of mutual destruction.’ Photograph: SNAP / Rex Features

Many readers have expanded their ambitions in these times of social isolation, disappearing into books that have previously beaten them.

Tolstoy’s War and Peace is mentioned often, along with Mantel’s Cromwell trilogy.

I decided on Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick or The Whale. I’d tried to read it in secondary school and never quite got there. But I went all the way in my 20s. And when the world started shutting down in the pandemic, elements of Moby-Dick surfaced in my mind like the leviathan breaching before the Pequod.

Something about my memories of Moby-Dick resonated with how

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