These are (as near as I can tell) all the versions (translations, if you will) of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick at our house.


This is my beloved copy, a hardback Signet Classic edition that’s the size of a mass market paperback.

I love this copy because it was the one that I read when I really read Moby-Dick (I also kinda sorta ‘klept it).


These abridged versions for young readers are the same, despite the cooler updated cover on the right, which I guess fooled my wife into buying another copy for me to read with my daughter. (She liked it the first time though, so….). Even the illustrations are the same:



More of a resource than a reading copy—although as Norton Critical Editions go, this one’s footnotes aren’t too obtrusive. Handy dictionary of nautical terms.


I am a huge fan of Bill Sienkiewicz. And Moby-Dick. I wish his Moby-Dick adaptation had no words though.



My dad’s childhood adaption, a Grosset & Dunlap from the early ’60s.



Sam Ita’s fantastic pop-up adaptation fails to mention Herman Melville’s name at all.

Despite the gross oversight, it’s given me hours of joy with my kids.



Moby-Dick was published on October 18th, 1851 in England.

The English printer Peter Bentley’s text contained numerous errors, including leaving out the epilogue, where we learn that Ishmael survives to bear witness to disaster.

Although the American printing in November of 1851 emended many of these errors, the early reviews of Moby-Dick were scathing, and Melville’s career and reputation deteriorated.

It wasn’t until the advent of literary modernism in the first decades of the twentieth century that the world caught up to Moby-Dick.


18 thoughts on “Moby-Dick(s)”

  1. Very interesting! I took a class last semester, where my professor showed us an online archive that he and the Melville Society were working on… Something I’ll have to start looking into again. Great post.


  2. This is one of my top five of all time. I love this book for so many reasons, not the least of which is its brilliant and hypnotizing style of writing. In my Great Works course in college, we celebrated the end of our journey through over 25 books with a party where our cake was the white whale with a dark red center. Your post just became one of my absolute favorites. Well done, bravo, etc!


    1. There is a free audio in Librivox and also one in Big Read, which has numerous recognizable readers. Amazon has a hardback Norton for eight bucks. Again, thank you Biblioklept for your great site. Reading it every day has informed me of much good art and works with morning coffee better than the newspaper. It also keeps me from desperately searching the remaindered bins of yesterday’s best sellers for something engrossing and enlightening to read. A break from plodding through Tantric instructions on how to build a spaceshiptimemachine. I had forgotten about Hawthorne and Cervantes, amongst other authors you have commented on [about?]. Your visual still art has helped fill my screen saver library, so that instead of having a print copy of a painting to no longer notice, there is a changing art display in the blank space where the monitor sits.


  3. My Moby Dick is a hardbound Easton Press copy that my dad got for me along with other classics. I admired the beautiful gold engraving of the cover. I tried reading it but alas, I was too young to understand big words. The illustrations were fantastic though. I still enjoyed the book just by looking at it. Of course, it still needs to be read. I’ve resolved to read it as a bedtime story because it’s too heavy to carry around. Thank you for this post. It reminded me to stop neglecting my Moby Dick. :)


  4. speaking of moby dicks, hannah stephenson wrote the following

    Ships Set Out

    Ships set out to cross oceans
    with maps that ended. This was the edge
    of the world with saltwater draped atop it,
    unbounded as sky. Months of this,
    years of this, the heading-toward-ness,
    and still, the crew worked and ate
    and slept and conversed. If nowhere else,
    here was land, an island, a shore.

    after seeing matt kish’s art for a passage from page 115 of moby dick – kish did a drawing for every page of the 552 page signet classic edition – he blogged the pages and they have been published as a book


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