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The young sailor Ishmael befriends a tattooed Polynesian harpooner named Queequeg, and finds himself aboard the Pequod, which is captained by the obsessive Captain Ahab. Not long after the voyage has begun, Ahab tells the crew about his secret plot to hunt down the whale that crippled him on a previous voyage, Moby Dick. The crew of the Pequod are also after as much sperm oil as their ship can carry, and the account of the crew’s years-long pursuit of the White Whale is interspersed with detailed and encyclopaedic descriptions of a whaler’s life. Melville unites narrative virtuosity with a lifetime of sailing experience in perhaps the single most important classic of American literature.