By Herman Melville
As a man who witnessed the harpoon sink into the blubber of the leviathans of the deep himself, Herman Melville drew on his own experiences to pen what is often cited as the greatest sea story ever written. Vivid descriptions are interspersed with profound philosophical musings in the telling of a fictional tale of revenge as Captain Ahab, who lost a leg to a great white whale – an albino sperm whale – returns to wreak vengeance. The book is partly based on the true story of the sinking of the whaleship, Essex, rammed by a female sperm whale, leaving her crew miles offshore in longboats. Melville, writing in the mid-19th Century, was influenced by Shakespeare, and the Holy Bible.
The book, poorly received at first, has never been out of print since the beginning of the 2Oth Century when top writers such as William Faulkner and D. H. Lawrence hailed it as a masterpiece.