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Moby-Dick; or, The Whale (1851) is the sixth book by American writer Herman Melville and an epic sea story of Captain Ahab's voyage in vengeful pursuit of Moby Dick, a sperm whale who bit off Ahab's leg at a previous encounter. The book received mixed reviews and became a contemporary commercial failure. Out of print at the time of the author's death in 1891, its reputation rose during the twentieth century.