Best of the Web
Movie or TV Productions
This relatively recent big-budget TV production, starring Patrick Stewart as Captain Ahab, received a whole slew of awards and award nominations, including a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor (for Gregory Peck, who plays Father Mapple in this version, after playing Ahab in the 1956 film version).
Adapted by Ray Bradbury (author of Fahrenheit 451) and starring Gregory Peck (he was Brad Pitt for your grandparents) as Captain Ahab, this has become the classic film adaptation of Moby Dick. Caution: the special effects, like the rest of the film, are from 1956.
In this filmed stage version of Moby Dick, a single actor, Jack Aranson, plays all the major characters and brings Melville’s text to life. Useful if you really want to focus on hearing the language of the novel, or if you’re an acting buff.
We only mention this one to warn you to stay away from it. There’s no Ishmael, Father Mapple has a daughter, Captain Ahab has a brother, and Ahab is lovesick for Miss Mapple. In fact, it’s not even based on Melville’s novel, but on a 1926 silent film titled The Sea Beast. (Check out the link if you don’t believe us.) Leave this one in the vault.
This one’s exactly what it sounds like – a recent documentary about the actual whaling adventure that inspired the core plot of Melville’s novel.
Stewart Wills reads the complete text of Moby-Dick, including the two prefaces "Etymology" and "Extracts." A terrific study aid or a way to kick-start your reading of the novel if you’re having trouble getting into it. You can stream it or download it onto your MP3 player.
In this review for NPR’s All Things Considered on June 13, 2007, Prof. Rebecca Stott describes why she fell in love with Moby-Dick – and the lessons modern readers can take from the novel. (You can read or listen to her commentary.)
Vintage poster from the classic film version of the novel, starring Gregory Peck.
This photograph-like painting, titled "Scarred Giant," by artist Chris Harman shows a detailed underwater view of a sperm whale.
Remember how, in Chapter 56 ("Of the Less Erroneous Pictures of Whales, and the True Pictures of Whaling Scenes"), Melville/Ishmael says that the only really good pictures of whales are French engravings based on paintings by "Garnery" (he means Ambroise Louis Garneray)? Well, here are a few of those paintings on a website devoted to images relevant to studying Melville’s work.
Identified as "Usual Whaling Scene: Colored – modern."
Includes the "Etymology" and "Extracts" prefaces as well as other dedicatory information; well-formatted and user-friendly. Definitely the best free online e-text of Moby-Dick we’ve seen.
Free, searchable online access to the text of the novel on the webpage of Dr. Peter Batke. Caution: this particular e-text is missing the "Etymology" and "Extracts" sections that preface the novel in most editions.
Full text of the Biblical Book of Jonah in the King James Version, from the Internet Sacred Text Archive. Jonah is a very short book and important background for Moby-Dick, especially the sermon in Chapter 9.
This site rocks; it provides full Moby-Dick text and has lots of awesome tools and resources.
The American Cetacean Society gives information about sperm whale biology and whale hunt history. This site is particularly useful if you’re interested in knowing how accurate (or inaccurate) Melville can be about cetology.