Modern Library Classics


or, The Whale

Publisher: Modern Library

Introduction by Elizabeth Hardwick
Illustrations by Rockwell Kent

First published in 1851, Herman Melville’s masterpiece is, in Elizabeth Hardwick’s words, “the greatest novel in American literature.” The saga of Captain Ahab and his monomaniacal pursuit of the white whale remains a peerless adventure story but one full of mythic grandeur, poetic majesty, and symbolic power. Filtered through the consciousness of the novel’s narrator, Ishmael, Moby-Dick draws us into a universe full of fascinating characters and stories, from the noble cannibal Queequeg to the natural history of whales, while reaching existential depths that excite debate and contemplation to this day.


Call me Ishmael. This resonant opening of Moby-Dick, the greatest novel in American literature, announces the narrator, Herman Melville, as he with a measure of slyness thought of himself. In the Scriptures Ishmael, a wild man sired by the overwhelming patriarch Abraham, was nevertheless the bastard son of a serving...
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1. What is the significance of the whale? What do you think Melville intends in developing such a vicious antagonism between Ahab and the whale?

2. How does the presence of Queequeg, particularly his status as a "savage," inform the novel? How does Melville depict this cultural clash?

3. How does...

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In this slender graphic adaptation of Melville’s magnum opus, Ishmael, Queequeg and the rest of the uniformly burly, steely-eyed whalers are strong presences in Singh’s art — at least until their pale, gargantuan nemesis shows up to scatter them and their ship as flotsam across the waves. . . . The biographical introduction and closing pages on whaling ships and sperm whales provide a nice veneer of historical context. — Kirkus Reviews

"I highly recommend Campfire’s comics. They do what they are intended to do and do it in  a way that excites kids about classic literature." — Chris Wilson, The Graphic Classroom (a resource for teachers and librarians) 

"Stahlberg and Singh understand that the kids of today don't want to be talked down to. . . . The comic reads as a full story; there isn't really much that seems as if it's missing.  Lalit Kumar Singh can stand up to any artist working in the Big Two today. He has a style reminiscent of Andy Kubert, or even, dare I say, early Marc Silvestri. The angular, realistic style expertly captures the dark nature of the story without going so dark as to possibly turn off younger readers. . . . If you have a kid whom you'd like to get into reading comics, and if you have a kid whom you'd like to get into classic literature, Moby Dick comes highly recommended." — The Comics Cube!

"Campfire Graphics has condensed [Melville's original work] to a mere 88 richly illustrated pages. And done quite a decent job too.... [Condensing] helps the action packed story move along at a brisk pace." — Emma, No Flying No Tights