If you headed to the Google homepage today, you probably saw a familiar image from one of the most celebrated pieces of American literature. The “Google Doogle” celebrates the work of Herman Melville and Moby Dick, which was published 161 years ago today in a three-volume set on October 18, 1851, by Richard Bentley in London, and later by Harper and Brothers who would bring it across the pond as a single volume titled Moby-Dick; or, The Whale in a single volume.
Now considered one of the Great American Novels, Moby Dick has been analyzed for decades because of its impact on Western literature and its allegorical nature– including a friendly argument by authors E.L. Doctorow and Margaret Atwood on an TimesTalks event earlier this year.
Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Blind Assassin, discusses Moby Dick as an anti-capitalist metaphor for environmentalism. Doctorow, author of Billy Bathgate and The March, counters by saying the whale shouldn’t be labeled as a victim.