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Avec Moby Dick, Melville a donné naissance à un livre-culte et inscrit dans la mémoire des hommes un nouveau mythe : celui de la baleine blanche. Fort de son expérience de marin, qui a nourri ses romans précédents et lui a assuré le succès, l'écrivain américain, alors en pleine maturité, raconte la folle quête du capitaine Achab et sa dernière rencontre avec le grand cachalot. Véritable encyclopédie de la mer, nouvelle Bible aux accents prophétiques, parabole chargée de thèmes universels, Moby Dick n'en reste pas moins construit avec une savante maîtrise, maintenant un suspense lent, qui s'accélère peu à peu jusqu'à l'apocalypse finale. L'écriture de Melville, infiniment libre et audacieuse, tour à tour balancée, puis hachée au rythme des houles, des vents et des passions humaines, est d'une richesse exceptionnelle. Il faut remonter à Shakespeare pour trouver l'exemple d'une langue aussi inventive, d'une poésie aussi grandiose. --Scarbo --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.

Extrait

Call me Ishmael. This resonant opening of Moby-Dick, the greatest novel in American literature, announces the narrator, Herman Melville, as he with a measure of slyness thought of himself. In the Scriptures Ishmael, a wild man sired by the overwhelming patriarch Abraham, was nevertheless the bastard son of a serving girl Hagar. The author himself was the offspring of two distinguished American families, the Melvilles of Boston and the Gansevoorts of Albany.

Melville's father cast something of a blight on the family escutcheon by his tendency to bankruptcy which passed down to his son. Dollars damn me, the son was to say over and over. When he sat down in the green landscape of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, to compose Moby-Dick he was in debt, the father of one son, and another to be born a few days after the publication of the novel in England.

Melville had published five novels previous to Moby-Dick; the first two did well, and then with the capriciousness of the public the subsequent novels failed to please. He was a known literary figure with a fading reputation. How he came upon the courage to undertake the challenging creation of the epical battle between a sea creature, a white whale called Moby Dick, and an old captain from Nantucket by the name of Ahab is one of literature's triumphant mysteries. Add to that, as one reads, that he was only thirty-two years old.

Ten years before, in 1841, he had signed up as a common seaman on the whaling vessel Acushnet bound for the South Seas. Young Ishmael was drawn by the lure of the sea and by the wonder of the whale itself, the Leviathan, the monarch of the deep, "one grand hooded phantom, like a snow hill in the air." Until the discovery of petroleum oil in 1859 and Thomas Edison's invention of the incandescent lamp in 1879, whaling was a major commercial occupation in New England. Fortunes were made, grand houses were built, often with a "widow's walk" on the roof that testified to the great dangers of the enterprise. For the crew, service on a whaler was a drastic life of unremitting labor; foul, crowded quarters; bad food in scanty servings; contractual terms for years at miserable wages; brutalized companions picked up from all the ports of the world; tyrannical captains practicing a "sultanism" which Melville abhorred. A ship afloat is after all a prison. Melville was on three whalers in his four years at sea and from each, as we read in Typee and Omoo, the struggle is to escape, as he did when the boats anchored near exotic islands. He wrote about the misery of the whaling life, but not about whaling itself until he came to Moby-Dick. His imaginary whaler, the Pequod, death bound as it is, would be called, for an ordinary seaman, an agreeable berth. Ahab has no interest left beyond his internal struggle with one whale.

Still, there is whaling, the presumption of it. When a whale is sighted small boats are detached from the main vessel and the men engage in a deadly battle to try to match, with flying harpoons, the whale's immense strength and desperation. If the great thing is captured, the deck of the main ship becomes an abattoir of blood and guts. The thick blubber is to be stripped, the huge head to be drained of its oils for soothing ambergris, for candles; the bones of the carcass make their way into corsets and umbrellas and scrimshaw trinkets. Moby-Dick is a history of cetology, an encylopedic telling of the qualities of the fin-back, the right whale, the hyena whale, the sperm whale, the killer whale, classified by size in mock academic form as folio, octavo, and so on.

Information about a vanished world is one thing, but, above all else, this astonishing book is a human tragedy of almost supernatural suspensiveness, written in a rushing flow of imaginative language, poetical intensity, metaphor and adjective of consuming beauty. It begins on the cobbled streets of New Bedford, where Ishmael is to spend a few days before boarding the Pequod in Nantucket. The opening pages have a boyish charm as he is brought to share a bed with a fellow sailor, the harpooner Queequeg, an outrageously tattoed "primitive" who will be his companion throughout the narrative. Great ships under sail gave the old ports a rich heritage of myth, gossip, exaggeration, and rhetorical flights. Ishmael, on a Sunday, visits a whaleman's chapel to hear the incomparable sermon by Father Mapple on Jonah and the whale, a majestic interlude, one of many in this torrential outburst of fictional genius.

As Ishmael and Queequeg proceed to Nantucket, the shadows of the plot begin to fall upon the pages. The recruits are interviewed by two retired sailors who will struggle to express the complicated nature of Captain Ahab. We learn that he has lost a leg, chewed off by a whale, and thus the fated voyage of the Pequod begins. Ahab has lost his leg to a white whale Moby Dick and is consumed with a passion for retribution. He will hunt the singular whale as a private destiny in the manner of ancient kings in a legendary world. However, Ahab is real and in command. The chief mate, Starbuck, understands the folly of the quest, the danger of it, and, as a thoughtful man longing to return to his wife and children, he will speak again and again the language of reason. "Vengeance on a dumb beast that simply smote thee from the blindest instinct! Madness! To be enraged with a dumb thing, Captain Ahab, seems blasphemous."

The necessity of Starbuck's human distance from the implacable imperative of Ahab's quest illustrates the brilliant formation of this harrowing tale. But it is Ahab's story, his destiny, and, if on the one hand, he is a shabby, sea-worn sailor long mesmerized by mercurial oceans, he too has a wife at home and a child of his old age. We learn, as the story proceeds, that on a time ashore after his terrible wounding, he had fallen and by way of his whalebone leg been unmanned. He has suffered an incapacity not to be peacefully borne by one who in forty years had spent only three on land. Ahab knows the wild unsuitability of his nature, his remove from the common life. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Relié .


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Détails sur le produit

  • Relié: 720 pages
  • Editeur : Penguin Classics (4 février 2013)
  • Collection : Clothbound Classics
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0141199601
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141199603
  • Dimensions du produit: 13,8 x 4,6 x 20,4 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (3 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 116.142 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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1 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par lilanreader TOP 1000 COMMENTATEURS sur 24 septembre 2012
Format: Broché
I've read the complete Pinguin version, with mixed feelings. That it is a great piece of writing, is certain. Melville seemed to know all about "whaling" in his times. I guess this must have changed a lot today. In those days, it was a team of men against a huge and beautiful animal. This reminded me of The Old Man and the Sea (Ernest Hemingway) It was then a risky business, death was always nearby: and for the man, and for the whale. The story is about a whaleship captain who lost one half leg in the hunting of the White Whale, and is obsessed since with revenge. Moby Dick gets a name and becomes a legendary whale, feared by all whalers. But there is much more to it than a story. We have Melville's philosophy about mankind : the portraits drawn of each crew member are fascinating. The author's humour is much linked to his philosophical thoughts. It causes us to think about man's destiny, or lot? And what then bothered me, even though this book will always be on my bookshelf? I met whales myself, in the Pacific Ocean, a marking point in my life experience. Thus, I cannot even imagine the killing of one. Melville knew how to describe the incredible beauty of them, particularly the "sperm whale", chased for its oil. The first one is killed only on page 200 (sigh), and how about the legendary White Whale? You'll read the book, and you will know. The magnificient descriptions of Nature are also omnipresent, often coloured with signs of bad omen which hold us in suspense. A huis clos drama in the wide open oceans...But there is so much more to say about this writing, as is in all great works, difficult to give a general commentary on it. I turned my pages until, eventually, the author praises the whale's intelligence.Lire la suite ›
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0 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Vaganay sur 24 octobre 2011
Format: Poche Achat vérifié
Après "Billy Budd Sailor and other stories", je découvre enfin l'ultime chef-d'oeuvre d'Herman Melville. Des themes choisis un suspens inoubliable. Le livre dont les sources le livre de Jonas entre autre se retrouve dans "Pinocchio" de Walt Disney avec: "Est-ce que vous fréquentez Monstro la Baleine?" Le livre qui a inspiré "Jaws" le livre et ensuite le film dirigé par Steven Spielberg et autres.
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1 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Demoulins Stephane sur 9 août 2011
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Livre assez facile à lire mais des descriptions parfois ennuyeuses.

Bien pour assimiler du vocabulaire maritime ou le réviser.

A part ça, Melville a un style très agréable avec une pointe d'humour qui m'a fait bien rire.
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514 internautes sur 539 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
This book is gonna make it! 19 janvier 2001
Par Adam Roberts - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
Finishing "Moby Dick" goes up there with my greatest (and few) academic achievements. It was a gruelling read, but---in the end---completely worthwhile.
I've been reading it for 6 months. I started over the summer, during an abroad program in Oxford, and I remember sitting outside reading when one of the professors came over, saw what I was reading, and said: "It's a very strange book, isn't it?"
Looking back, that might be the best way to describe it. The blurb from D.H. Lawrence on the back cover agrees: Moby Dick "commands a stillness in the soul, an awe...[it is] one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world."
Now there are those who will say that the book's middle is unbearable---with its maddeningly detailed accounts of whaling. Part of me agrees. That was the hardest to get through. But, still, even the most dull subject offers Melville an opportunity to show off his writing chops. He's a fantastic writer---his text most resembles that of Shakespeare.
And, like one Shakespeare's characters, Melville sees all the world as a stage. Consider this beautiful passage from the first chapter:
"Though I cannot tell why it was exactly that those stage managers, the Fates, put me down for this shabby part of a whaling voyage, when others were set down for magnifient parts in high tragedies, and short and easy parts in genteel comedies, and jolly parts in farces--though I cannot tell why this was exactly; yet, now that I recall all the circumstances, I think I can see a little into the springs and motives which being cunningly presented to me under various disguises, induced me to set about performing the part I did, besides cajoling me into the delusion that it was a choice resulting from my own unbiased freewill and discriminating judgment."
The end of "Moby Dick" informs the rest of the book, and in doing so makes rereading it inevitable. It is telling that Moby Dick doesn't appear until page 494. It is telling, because, the majority of the book is spent in anticipation---in fact, the whole book is anticipation. It's not unlike sex, actually---delaying gratification to a point of almost sublime anguish. What comes at the book's end, then, is mental, physical, and spiritual release (as well as fufillment).
The book leaves you with questions both large and small. I was actually most troubled with this question---What happened to Ishmael? No, we learn his fate at the book's end, but where was he throughout it? We all know how it starts---"Call me Ishmael"---and the book's first few chapters show him interacting with Queequeg and an innkeeper. But then we lose him onboard the Pequod---we never see him interact with anyone. No one ever addresses him. He seems to witness extremely private events---conferences in the Captain's quarters, conversations aboard multiple boats, and--what can only be his conjecture--the other characters' internal dialogue. Is he a phantom? What is he that he isn't? Somehow I think this question masks a much larger and more important one.
Try "Moby Dick." Actually, don't try it---read it. Work at it. Like lifting weights a bit heavier than you're used to, "Moby Dick" will strengthen your brain muscle. Don't believe those who hate it, they didn't read it. They didn't work at it. Be like Ishmael, who says: "I try all things; I achieve what I can." Or, more daringly, be like Ahab, whose ambition is his curse, but whose curse propels and writes the book itself.
192 internautes sur 201 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Open your mind 26 mars 1999
Par TJ - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Last year I decided to expand my intellectual horizons by reading a series of American literary classics. Moby Dick was the first book on my list. It took me three months to finish this legendary story and, looking back on it now, I must say that it was worth every minute. To others who are considering this effort I say this: buttress your stamina and open your mind. This is not John Grisham or Tom Clancy. You will be reading high literature and you will be required to think. If you do so, Ishmael, Ahab and crew will open a window to some of mankind's most profound questions: Is it better to fight evil or promote virtue? Where is the line between honorable justice and blind vengeance? Do bad things happen because the universe is evil or just indifferent? The true pleasure to be derived from reading this book can be found by closing its pages every so often and reflecting on the questions that it will raise in your mind. A completely different experience than breezing through the latest best-seller, but much more rewarding.
Be aware that Moby Dick is many types of books in one. It is part adventure story, part sermon, part history of whaling, part encyclopedia of whale anatomy, part metaphysical allegory. Expect it to change periodically as you move through it, be receptive to each part, and don't try to compartmentalize it as any one particular type of work.
194 internautes sur 205 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
your understanding might boil down to the quality of the gloss 13 juillet 2005
Par Caraculiambro - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
Unless you are a naval historian or a Melville scholar, you probably won't have a rewarding (or even comprehensible) time with Moby-Dick at this remove unless the edition you're using comes with a good set of footnotes. Here's the skinny on the various editions currently on shelves:

THESE HAVE FOOTNOTES ON THE PAGE ITSELF:

* Charles Feidelson, Jr.'s annotated edition. Unquestionably the most all-around useful edition of Moby-Dick ever printed. Generous and highly useful footnotes right on the page, covering lexical, allusional, and cross-referential items. Two disadvantages: you may at times feel put upon by Feidelson's interlarded interpretations, and the thing is totally out of print. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1964. ISBN: 067260311X

* The "Norton critical" edition, edited by Parker and Hayford. The edition most widely employed by scholars. Stingier with the footnotes than Feidelson, but still a good second choice. Many useful essays at the end. The layout of the text is a bit hard on the eye, though. Make sure you get the SECOND edition, from 2001. ISBN: 0393972836

* The "Barnes and Noble Classics" edition. The footnotes for the most part are skimpy and confined to obscure vocabulary, not cultural and literary allusions. ISBN: 1-59308-018-2

THESE HAVE A FOOTNOTES SECTION IN THE BACK OF THE BOOK:

* The "Oxford World Classics" edition. About 11 pp. at the end. ISBN: 0-19-283385-5

* The "Modern Library" edition. About 13 pp. at the end. ISBN: 0-679-78327-X

* The "Penguin Classics" edition. About 15 pp. of notes at the end by Tom Quirk. ISBN: 0-14-24.3724-7 (This is their fancy hardbound version: see next item.)

* The "Penguin Classics" edition. About 15 pp. of notes at the end by Tom Quirk. ISBN: 0-14-03.9084-7 (This is their paperback edition, which looks totally different but is exactly the same as the previous entry. This claims to be the "definitive text," but any such claim is spurious -- cf. Hayford and Parker [v.s.] for a good discussion of why. Penguin previously came out with an identical-looking but much thicker version annotated by Harold Beaver: the notes for that edition were copious, but on the whole too fanciful and self-indulgent to be of much use.)

* The "Library of America" edition. (This is the one included in the same volume with "Redburn" and "White Jacket.") About 9 pp. of notes at the end. Unfortunately, they're a bit skimpy. You see, they're of the "go get it yourself" kind. For example, when Melville writes, "send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger," the footnotes -- the incidence of which is not marked in the running text -- merely says "Luke 16:24". In other words, you've got to look it up yourself. So I would characterize the footnotes as sparse and taciturn: they'll clue you in to the source, but as for the exact wording of something and its accumulated historical connotations, you've got to come up with those yourself. ISBN: 0-940450-09-7

THESE HAVE NO FOOTNOTES WHATSOEVER:

Why do publishers still print editions of Moby Dick without any footnotes or glossary whatsoever? Who can read it? What a waste of paper. I get so irritated! In any event, the following publishers have decided you'd prefer your white whale raw:

* The "Bantam Classic" edition. ISBN: 0-553-21311-3 Ain't got jack.

* The "Everyman's Library" edition. ISBN: 0-679-40559-3. Zilch.

* The "Penguin 150th Anniversary" edition. ISBN: 0-14-20.0008-6 Bupkiss! Handsome, though.

* The "Arion Press" edition. ISBN: 0-520-04354-5. Also annoyingly oversized.

And that's my bit of altruism for the week.
142 internautes sur 149 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Not complete 29 décembre 2010
Par TonyJF - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
I haven't finished reading the entire book, so I can't comment on the whole thing. But, there is at least one whole section omitted from this version: In the chapter "The Sermon", the hymn sung by the sailors is missing. While this omission does not necessarily detract from the story in a significant way, I like a "classic" such as this one to be complete.
147 internautes sur 161 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
What other American work compares to Virgil and Shakespeare? 4 octobre 2004
Par mulcahey - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Forget everything you have heard or think you know about this book. What it decidedly is not is the story of a one-legged madman pursuing a whale for revenge.

Do not give this book to high-school students. Have them read THE AENEID, the prophet Isaiah, a few scenes of HAMLET, so that when they are forty and MOBY-DICK falls into their hands, they will recognize at least some of its underpinnings.

MOBY-DICK is as weird and far-ranging as Scripture, and stakes out the same terrority, namely heaven, hell, earth, mortality, joy, flesh, eternity, the soul. Ahab is no more mad than Edmund in KING LEAR: the real madman of MOBY-DICK is Melville himself. But he can only have been unhinged by an angel, so sweeping is the power of his imagination.

It's perverse to look on the shape and construction of MOBY-DICK as radical, innovative, foreshadowing such moderns as Joyce; it's like calling Revelations "innovative." Melville has no such aim and has no interest in technique. Indeed, he has few "literary" virtues. His language is dense, syntactically clumsy, exhausting, over-precise to the point there's no telling what precisely is being said. No human being could speak the dialogue that erupts from the mouths of its personages: it's like opera, or the dialogue in PARADISE LOST. It has a more urgent, essential motive than speech. It's the soul speaking.

MOBY-DICK is nothing so trivial as a literary experiment. It aims for wholeness, concreteness; it wants to be about everything, inside and out, and its eye is everywhere. Melville senses the sun and stars are part of his story, and equally so the bones and guts of a whale, so he makes them characters. When the convention of the first-person narrator becomes too restrictive, he lets Ishmael lapse, absorbing him and all of the Pequod into a single, unlocatable consciousness that seems to have existed before time.

The greatness of this book has nothing to do with its "qualities," but with its passion, its madness -- its genius. If ever a secular work was inspired, surely it was this one. It is beautiful not in the way books are, but as a created thing is, a horse or a river or a redwood. It makes little sense to me to call MOBY-DICK The Great American Novel, since it's hardly a novel at all; it is sui generis, acknowledging no standards but its own. If it must be a novel, then has the same standing in the canon of world literature as TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: the supremest expression of the mind of a culture, disavowed by the culture itself.

As for this edition, it is at least handsomely printed and well bound. The foreward is profoundly irrelevant, and there are no notes, though I can't imagine any torrent of notes would be of much use in penetrating the mystery of this vision, prophecy, epic, call it what you will.

If you find yourself these days looking for reasons to be proud to be American, MOBY-DICK will give you one.
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