Herman Melville's tale of a whale was such a groundbreaking piece of American literature that we’re still finding fresh ways to interpret and appreciate it, nearly 170 years after its publication in 1851. To celebrate the 200th birthday of the man behind the not-so-mythical creature this month, Chronicle Books has released a pop-up book edition of Moby-Dick with select stylized quotes and intricate, eye-catching 3D illustrations.
The ten linocut artworks are printed in muted blue, black, pink, and yellow hues that capture the rich, abyssal atmosphere of the story. The images rise off the page in three or four layers, which befits a novel that is figuratively and literally very deep. In broadsheet style, each accompanying quote recounts an important part of the story, from Ishmael’s first description of the Pequod (the whaling ship that serves as the setting for much of the book) to Captain Ahab’s electrifying face-off with the white whale himself. A short annotation at the bottom of each page provides context and a little insight into the significance of each quote.
The pop-up book is a perceptive and aesthetically pleasing piece of art for everyone, whether you’ve read Moby-Dick a dozen times or zero. For re-readers, it offers an opportunity to pair your literary understanding of the novel with pictures—something we don’t always get to do as adults. For newcomers, it’s a simple, straightforward introduction to a work so multifaceted and metaphorical that you might’ve previously felt it to be just as daunting as trying to harpoon a whale.
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