爱思英语编者按:赫尔曼·梅尔维尔(Herman Melville, 1819年8月1日—1891年9月28日),美国小说家、散文家和诗人。由于家境不好,做过农夫、职员、教师、水手、海军等职务,后来成为小说家,他以其海上经历为事实依据写成其寓言杰作《白鲸记》(1851年),这部小说被认为是美国最伟大的小说之一。

Herman Melville (August 1, 1819 – September 28, 1891) was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. He is best known for his novel Moby-Dick and the posthumous novella Billy Budd. His first three books gained much contemporary attention (the first, Typee, becoming a bestseller), but after a fast-blooming literary success in the late 1840s, his popularity declined precipitously in the mid-1850s and never recovered during his lifetime. When he died in 1891, he was almost completely forgotten. It was not until the "Melville Revival" in the early 20th century that his work won recognition, especially Moby-Dick which was hailed as one of the literary masterpieces of both American and world literature. He was the first writer to have his works collected and published by the Library of America.He spoke ahead of his time.He was a dedicated artist.He was unwilling to sacrifice his insights and artistic standards to cater to popular feelings and demands.

Moby Dick

Melville's masterwork,one of the world's greatest masterpieces.To get to know the nineteenth century American mind,one has to read this book.It is an encyclopedia of everything,history,philosophy,religion,etc.Moby Dick is widely considered to be a Great American Novel and a treasure of world literature. The story tells the adventures of the wandering sailor Ishmael, and his voyage on the whaleship Pequod, commanded by Captain Ahab. Ishmael soon learns that Ahab seeks one specific whale, Moby Dick, a ferocious, enigmatic white sperm whale. In a previous encounter, the whale destroyed Ahab's boat and bit off his leg. Ahab intends to take revenge.In the end,he finds and attacks Moby Dick,but the whale takes his ship and nearly all the crews on board down to the watery grave with him.

Captain Ahab has been Melville's portrait of an "Emersonian self-reliant individual."Ahab is too much of a self-reliant individual to be a good human being.For him the only law is his own will.To him the world exists for his sake.Ahab is a victim of solipsism,his tragedy stemming from extreme individualism,selfish will. Ahab is the best illustration of alienation,a major theme in Melville.

Symbolism:The white whale is capable of many interpretations.To some,it is a symbol of evil,to others it is a symbol of goodness.Its whiteness is a paradoxical color,signifying death,corruption as well as purity and innocence.It is an embodiment of nature.

Other symbolism:Voyage is a metaphor for search and discovery.The search for the ultimate truth of experience.The "Pequod" is the Ship of American soul.

Ishmael:Feeling depressed,he seeks to escape by going out to sea on a whaling ship.As the narrator,Ishmael gradually comes to see the folly of Ahab seeking to conquer nature,and begins to feel the significance of love and companionship.Voyaging has become a journey in quest of knowledge and value for Ishmael.

Moby Dick is portrayed from different angles by using the technique "multiple view"

Moby Dick reveals the basic pattern of the nineteenth century life:loneliness and suicidal individualism in a self-styled democracy.

Melville criticizes New England Transcendentalism.Constantly under his attack is its emphasis on individualism and oversoul.