The first quarter of the book sets out the characters, scenes, foreshadows some key symbols; the next half of the book is almost entirely about whales and whaling, some of it quite detailed, there is some plot development, and the symbolism and poetic qualities of the writing increase; the last quarter is intensely symbolic, and plot and characters and poetic prose build in a crescendo to a tragic and religious consummation. The narrator is excellent: gives different voices to the characters, and the tone and speed is perfectly modified to the exact place in the development of the narrative.

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