Whaling Museum to Host 19th Annual Moby-Dick Marathon

Moby Dick Marathon, photo/New Bedford Whaling Museum.
Moby Dick Marathon, photo/New Bedford Whaling Museum.

The 19th annual Moby-Dick Marathon at the New Bedford Whaling Museum will take place January 2-4, 2015. The weekend will feature programs for young and old surrounding the nonstop reading of Herman Melville’s literary masterpiece, including a lecture by author Philip Hoare.

Admission is free.

New this year is a Children’s Mini-Marathon, in which children ages 8 and older are invited to read excerpts from an abridged version of Moby-Dick. Running concurrently with the annual Marathon, the Children’s Mini-Marathon is scheduled for Saturday, January 3, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, January 4, from 10 a.m. to noon. To reserve a child’s reading spot, call Sarah Rose, Curator of Education at 508-717-6818 or email srose@whalingmuseum.org.

Weekend activities begin on Friday, January 2, at 5:30 p.m. with a ticketed buffet dinner and cash bar in the Jacobs Family Gallery. Dinner tickets are $25. To purchase tickets, call 508- 997-0046 x100.

Following dinner, a free public pre-Marathon lecture will feature celebrated British author,  Philip Hoare. In his books and films, Philip Hoare has explored the world of the whale from two aspects: that of human and natural history. Using a blend of art, literature, science, and personal experience, he will explore the background that lies behind the remarkable work of art, prophecy and imagination that is Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. The presentation will be interview style, led by Melville Scholar Robert Wallace, PhD.

On Saturday at 10:00 a.m., Stump the Scholars, a popular quiz game with prizes invites the audience to bring their most challenging Melville related questions to try to Stump the Scholars. At 11:30 a.m. members of Melville Society will assemble in the Bourne Building to read from selected Extracts, which appear ahead of Chapter 1 in Moby-Dick. At noon, the marathon begins with Philip Hoare reading the part of Ishmael.

In keeping with tradition, chapters 1 through 6 will be read in the Bourne Building. Participants are then invited to walk over to the Seamen’s Bethel for the reading of chapters 7 through 9, which includes Father Mapple’s famous sermon to be delivered this year by Reverend David Lima, Executive Minister of the Inter-Church Council of Greater New Bedford. The congregation will be led in the singing of the hymn “The Ribs and Terrors in the Whale” in chapter 9 by members of the New Bedford Choral Society, music director Gerald P. Dyck, and organist Dwight Thomas. Thereafter, the reading continues in the Jacobs Family Gallery.

On Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Culture*Park, a regional performing arts collaborative, will stage Chapter 40 – “Midnight, Forecastle” in the Cook Memorial Theater.

Attendees can also join a “Chat with a Melville Scholar” session on Saturday from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., and on Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. in the Centre Street Gallery where this year’s Marathon-related installation “The Art of Seeing Whales” is on view.

The entire marathon will be broadcasted via livestream audio on the Whaling Museum website, allowing Moby-Dick enthusiasts around the globe to follow along. It can also be heard in the Whaling Museum’s Cook Memorial Theater. Periodic updates via Twitter, using #mdm19, are sent out by Whaling Museum staff, and by attendees with their own Twitter accounts.

A midwinter tradition, attracting hundreds of Moby-Dick fans from around the world, the marathon marks the anniversary of Herman Melville’s January 1841 departure from the port of New Bedford and Fairhaven aboard the whale ship, Acushnet.