Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Text me, Ishmael: An all-emoji translation of Herman Melville's Moby Dick actually exists

There are multiple editions of Hamlet translated into Klingon, the language of a fictional alien race in Star Trek, which is an impressive feat of fandom that nonetheless serves very little purpose. But at the very least that’s a fully translated work of drama into another spoken language (however miniscule the number of speakers). Now someone has gone to the trouble of overseeing a translation of Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby Dick into emojis, the Japanese emoticons, reducing one of the masterworks of American literature to a game of Pictionary. From the book’s website:

Each of the book’s approximately 10,000 sentences has been translated three times by a Amazon Mechanical Turk worker. These results have been voted upon by another set of workers, and the most popular version of each sentence has been selected for inclusion in this book.


The project was crowdsourced and used Kickstarter a few years ago for support, but now the books are complete. There’s a paperback edition available for $40, but the hardcover, laser-printed full-color edition of the translation runs a cool $200. So if you’re in the market for an expensive novelty book that cuts Moby Dick up line by line to add the fleeting entertainment of emojis, here’s the first and last item on the holiday shopping list.


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