Sunday, January 08, 2012

Reading "Moby-Dick" in New Bedford.

Today's edition of the New Bedford Standard-Times has a report on the sixteenth annual installment of a local tradition, the Moby-Dick Marathon, which I previously discussed in a post from five years ago. Here's more on this year's marathon, courtesy of the Standard-Times:
Some read yellowed, dog-eared hardcovers while others followed along on digital screens.

The young and old, Melville devotees and newcomers, packed New Bedford's historic Seamen's Bethel Saturday as Rev. Dr. Edward R. Dufresne, dressed in 19th century clerical garb, ascended the bow-shaped pulpit to read Father Mapple's famous sermon from "Moby-Dick."

"Shipmates, I do not place Jonah before you to be copied for his sin but I do place him before you as a model for repentance."

For 16 years, Herman Melville's epic novel, the bane of many high school students' existence, has attracted healthy crowds for a marathon reading that has become a cultural phenomenon in New Bedford.

The 25-hour reading of the classic novel began at noon Saturday in the New Bedford Whaling Museum's Lagoda Room when Bristol County Superior Court Judge Ray Veary read the novel's iconic opening sentence.

"Call me Ishmael."

A succession of readers that included Mayor Jon Mitchell, his predecessor Scott W. Lang, local singer Candida Rose and others took turns reading chapters from "Moby-Dick," which critics panned after its publishing in 1851.

The novel — which gives modern readers a glimpse into New Bedford and its waterfront during the city's whaling heyday — did not catch on in literary circles until decades after Melville's death in 1891.

But Saturday, a crowd of at least 200 people gathered in the Lagoda Room while someone at the microphone, standing in front of a large black and white photograph of the city's waterfront in the 19th century, read from the novel.
To read the rest, click here. For more on the Moby-Dick Marathon, including streaming video of this year's event, consult this page on the website of the New Bedford Whaling Museum. AMDG.


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