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Did you know Moby Dick--a treasure of world literature--has garnered many one star reviews on Amazon?
The following is from bibliokept: Selections From One-Star Amazon Reviews of Melville's Moby-Dick, thanks to Passive Guy for the link. (By the way, I found the original reviews on Amazon.com and expanded the quotations used for the article.)
One Star Reviews Of Herman Melville's Moby Dick
Title: Incredible story. What a lousy writer. Name: A Customer
4 of 22 people found the following review helpful
When I think of anyone being FORCED to read this novel (poor students, whereever you are) I want to fall on a harpoon. Ray Bradbury, who wrote the screenplay for this novel, (a la Gregory Peck) couldn't even finish the damn thing! He too just read bits of it ... He recognized it's inner greatness, its actual grandeur absolutely mired in prose that makes you want to gnaw your foot off...Title: Moby Dick: a tiresome book, Name: A Customer
1 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Moby Dick, was a horrible waiste of time. Along with its wordy paragraphs, it also talked about uninteresting issues. It is also to long, and you don't hear of them encountering the whale until the end of the book. Heres a good idea, after you read this book, go buy a vile of arsenic, drink it and you will be much happier. The only monster was the book itself. It leaves you with that, "I hate myself" feeling you get after accidentally destroying a major city with a hydrogen bomb or something, anyways, do not read it!Title: Have trouble getting to sleep at night? Get this!
Name: A Customer
9 of 38 people found the following review helpful
[I]f your looking for a good book, dont read this, you will only become agitated. Such was the case with me. I am quite the fan of stories which involve man eating sea creatures, such as Jaws. Moby Dick is nothing compared to such classics, I fear.Title:A tired old tale - Save the damn whales already!!!,
In fact, it is boring with a capital B. What is the whales motivation? You dont know. There is no suspense, and I find the idea of people hunting whales offensive.
Name: Gracie Lou Freebush
2 of 21 people found the following review helpful
This book is HORRIBLE! Classic, my eye! I would love to know what's so great about this book. I have seen better writing in a Hallmark card! Boring! Give me a good ole copy of Elvis and Me! A true story that really tugs at your heart strings! I sleep with that one under my pillow!
Ray Bradbury's Comments On Moby Dick
Since Moby Dick is undeniably a classic of world literature, these are deeply satisfying reviews for any author who has gotten a one star review on Amazon! Though, I should note, what the anonymous commenter says about Ray Bradbury seems to be true, though Mr. Bradbury's remark may have been due more to pique than honesty. The following is from the Wikipedia on the 1956 film Ray Bradbury collaborated on.
During a meeting to discuss the screenplay, Ray Bradbury informed John Huston that regarding Melville's novel, he had "never been able to read the damned thing". According to the biography The Bradbury Chronicles, there was much tension and anger between the two men during the making of the film, allegedly due to Huston's bullying attitude and attempts to tell Bradbury how to do his job, despite Bradbury being an accomplished writer. (Moby Dick (1956 film))
What Critics Initially Thought Of Moby Dick: Not Much
Initially Moby Dick had a rocky reception in America. It was not love at first sight. Although Melville considered Moby Dick his magnum opus the work received scathing reviews when it was first published.
He [Melville] considered Moby-Dick to be his magnum opus, but he was shocked and bewildered at the scathing reviews it received. Instead of bringing him the literary acclaim which he sought, this masterwork started a slide toward literary obscurity in his lifetime. This was partially because the book was first published in England, and the American literary establishment took note of what the English critics said, especially when these critics were attached to the more prestigious journals. Many critics praised it for its unique style, interesting characters, and poetic language, but others agreed with a critic with the highly regarded London Athenaeum, who described it as:I wanted, for the sake of balance, to include 5 Star reviews of a horrible book but it seems easier to agree on what constitutes great literature than what constitutes drivel.
One problem was that publisher Peter Bentley botched the English edition, most significantly in omitting the epilogue. For this reason, many of the critics faulted the book, what little they could grasp of it, on purely formal grounds, e.g., how the tale could have been told if no one survived to tell it. The generally bad reviews from across the ocean made American readers skittish about picking up the tome. (Moby-Dick)"[A]n ill-compounded mixture of romance and matter-of-fact. The idea of a connected and collected story has obviously visited and abandoned its writer again and again in the course of composition. The style of his tale is in places disfigured by mad (rather than bad) English; and its catastrophe is hastily, weakly, and obscurely managed."
Any author who has received a one star review on Amazon--and I would hazard to say that practically all published authors have--take heart! You're in excellent company.
Have you ever thrown a book across the room on frustration? What book was the worst book you've ever read? What was the thing you disliked most about it?
Other articles you might like:- The Writer's Journey: Writer As Hero
- Hugo Gernsback And The Future That Might Have Been
- Writing And The Monomyth, Part Two
Photo credit: "A Storm of Swords" by flossyflotsam under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.