Moby-Dick is a novel that never lets you forget that you’re reading a novel or that the story you’re hearing has been filtered through the perspective of a first-person narrator. Full of tangents, interruptions, and meditations on its own characters and their dramatic potential. It’s also a novel that surveys and reviews other literature (broadly defined) in its quest to be comprehensive in its treatment of the subject matter.
Moby-Dick is a novel about novels, because the White Whale itself is an allegorical representation of a book.
By creating a slippery association between himself as a former sailor-author and Ishmael as a fictional sailor-author-narrator, Melville makes the reader conscious of the relation between the real-life author’s perspective and his narrator’s motivations.