My rating: 5 of 5 stars
An incredible if interminable reading experience made nauseating by deplorable racist interjections (sometimes an excruciating chapter long) and gory slaughter. This was not a pleasant read; I had to take frequent breaks from what was so upsetting about the novel and Melville’s comments about other races, especially black people, and other cultures. Melville may be a product of his time and his novel a reflection of those times, but that doesn’t mean the book’s not entirely odious and offensive in my time.
Yet I still want to give the book 5 stars. 5 stars for the writing (I highlighted so many images, phrases, and sentences), the various forms the 136 chapters took, the humor, the philosophical musings, the encyclopedic overview of whales and whaling (yes, I actually enjoyed learning more than I really ever care to learn about topics I have no reason for knowing anything about.) 5 stars because of the variegated terrain of emotions I experienced while reading this book. 5 stars for those incredible final chapters. 5 stars because Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is entirely new to me again. 5 stars because references and allusions elsewhere are going to make a lot more sense to me now.
And 5 stars to me for finishing the damn thing.