Moby-Dick or The Whale, first published in 1851, 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 whale-ship Pequod, commanded by Captain Ahab. Ishmael soon learns that on this voyage Ahab has one purpose, to seek out a 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, which now drives Ahab to take revenge.
Herman Melville (1819-1891) 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, 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 American and world literature. He was the first writer to have his works published by the Library of America.