Moby-DickMoby-Dick is a novel by the American writer Herman Melville, concerning Captain Ahab's destructive and obsessive hunt for a great white whale, Moby-Dick.
Published in 1851, the novel employs an epic, encyclopedic form; it functions on many levels and has been variously interpreted in succeeding years. The white whale itself, for example, has been read as symbolically representative of good and evil, as has Ahab. Not just an allegory, Moby-Dick also contains a wealth of concrete detail on 19th century whaling and many other subjects. The novel was a commercial failure upon its initial publication, but has since cemented its author's reputation in the first rank of American writers.
The novel was published in an expurgated version entitled The Whale in London one month before appearing in the United States.
The plot was inspired in part by the sinking of the whaleship Essex by a sperm whale.