lilac_jive: Yes I think the lack of popularity at the time it came out, especially from an author that had enjoyed earlier success, does say something - about the book and about its reasons for becoming ... acclaimed, later.
Ralph Sir Edward: I've felt that way about more "literature" before, but for this one I had built up hopes or expectations that were quite disappointed.
foreverjuly: I did try with this book, I came to it with positive expectations, but felt almost as if Melville was working against me. It was the issue of Ahab's obsession that I found most disappointing. Ahab is brought on stage, as it were, with his obsession already extant and, it seemed to me, with little tangible exploration. There is that wonderful quote: "He piled upon the whale's white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart's shell upon it." But other than saying the same thing in several different ways I never felt as though he really added any depth beyond that one wonderful phrase. Starbuck, I felt, had more substance than Ahab.
pwalker8: There were times when I felt has though Melville gave me a reasonable "window into a different sort of world" but then another digression would follow and I would lose my place again. Authors like Dickens, Austen and H.G.Wells (to name some I like) I find will take me some pages or chapters to adapt to their style, so I do know what you mean, but with Melville I felt as though he never gave me much chance because his style kept moving around. (Well, that's they way I felt about it. As you say, different strokes etc.)
jgray: I agree. I felt as though I could go back though and simply drop half the chapters and suddenly get a much better book. Then go through again and drop half the paragraphs from what remained and I think I might get a book I could sit down and possibly even enjoy. I've never seen Moby Dick on film, having read the book now I cannot imagine any film being much like it. (I doubt if I could watch Patrick Stewart without expecting the whole scene to transform into the holodeck