Moby Dick

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.

Play on BBC Sounds website


  • Bridget Bennett 3 episodes
    Professor of American Literature and Culture at the University of Leeds
  • Katie McGettigan No other episodes
    Lecturer in American Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Graham Thompson No other episodes
    Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Nottingham

Reading list

  • The Dream of the Great American Novel
    Lawrence Buell (Harvard University Press, 2016) Google Books →
  • Dive Deeper: Journeys with Moby-Dick
    George Cotkin (Oxford University Press, 2012) Google Books →
  • Melville: His World and Work
    Andrew Delbanco (Picador, 2006) Google Books →
  • Leviathan, or the Whale
    Philip Hoare (Fourth Estate, 2009) Google Books →
  • Mariners, Renegades and Castaways: The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live in
    C. L. R. James (Dartmouth College Press, 2001) Google Books →
  • The Many-Headed Hydra: The Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic
    Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker (Verso, 2002) Google Books →
  • Herman Melville: Modernity and the Material Text
    Katie McGettigan (University of New Hampshire Press, 2017) Google Books →
  • The Passages of Herman Melville
    Jay Parini (Canongate Books, 2012) Google Books →
  • Herman Melville: A Biography
    Hershel Parker (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002, 2005) Google Books →
  • Literature, Disaster and the Enigma of Power: A Reading of Moby-Dick
    Eyal Peretz (Stanford University Press, 2003) Google Books →
  • In the Heart of the Sea: The Incredible True Story that Inspired Moby-Dick
    Nathaniel Philbrick (William Collins, 2015) Google Books →
  • Why Read Moby-Dick?
    Nathaniel Philbrick (Penguin Books, 2011) Google Books →

Related episodes

Programme ID: b09gzjm5

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Auto-category: 813.3 (American fiction)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, Moby Dick by Herman Melville tells the story of Captain Ahab whose leg was bitten off by a great white whale and Ahab wants to hunt it down and kill it in revenge.