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Moby Dick

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Moby-Dick (1851) by Herman Melville, the story of Ahab and the white whale, the most popular of around 1,000 ideas that listeners submitted.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Herman Melville's (1819-1891) epic novel, published in London in 1851, the story of Captain Ahab's pursuit of a great white sperm whale that had bitten off his leg. He risks his own life and that of his crew on the Pequod, single-mindedly seeking his revenge, his story narrated by Ishmael who was taking part in a whaling expedition for the first time. This is one of the c1000 ideas which listeners sent in this autumn for our fourth Listener Week, following Kafka's The Trial in 2014, Captain Cook in 2015 and Garibaldi and the Risorgimento in 2016.


Bridget Bennett
Professor of American Literature and Culture at the University of Leeds

Katie McGettigan
Lecturer in American Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London


Graham Thompson
Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Nottingham

Producer: Simon Tillotson.

Available now

51 minutes

Last on

Thu 7 Dec 2017 21:30


Katie McGettigan at Royal Holloway, University of London

Bridget Bennett at the University of Leeds

Graham Thompson at the University of Nottingham

The Melville Society

Herman Melville at the Society Library – The New York Society Library

Melville Society Cultural Project – New Bedford Whaling Museum

White whale in the big smoke: How the geography of London inspired Moby-Dick – New Statesman

Jay Parini on Herman Melville – The Telegraph

Moby-Dick – Wikipedia



Lawrence Buell, The Dream of the Great American Novel (Harvard University Press, 2016)

George Cotkin, Dive Deeper: Journeys with Moby-Dick (Oxford University Press, 2012)

Andrew Delbanco, Melville: His World and Work (Picador, 2006)

Philip Hoare, Leviathan, or the Whale (Fourth Estate, 2009)

C. L. R. James, Mariners, Renegades and Castaways: The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live in (first published 1953; Dartmouth College Press, 2001)

Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker, The Many-Headed Hydra: The Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic (Verso, 2002)

Katie McGettigan, Herman Melville: Modernity and the Material Text (University of New Hampshire Press, 2017)

Jay Parini, The Passages of Herman Melville (Canongate Books, 2012)

Hershel Parker, Herman Melville: A Biography 2 Volumes (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002, 2005)

Eyal Peretz, Literature, Disaster and the Enigma of Power: A Reading of Moby-Dick (Stanford University Press, 2003)

Nathaniel Philbrick, In the Heart of the Sea: The Incredible True Story that Inspired Moby-Dick (William Collins, 2015)

Nathaniel Philbrick, Why Read Moby-Dick? (Penguin Books, 2011)


Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Bridget Bennett
Interviewed Guest Katie McGettigan
Interviewed Guest Graham Thompson
Producer Simon Tillotson


  • Thu 7 Dec 2017 09:00
  • Thu 7 Dec 2017 21:30

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