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New Meetup: Fifteenth Annual Moby Dick Marathon at the New Bedford Whaling Museum

From: Marianne
Sent on: Monday, November 22, 2010 9:37 PM
Announcing a new Meetup for Nerd Fun - Boston!

What: Fifteenth Annual Moby Dick Marathon at the New Bedford Whaling Museum

When: Saturday, January 8,[masked]:00 PM

Where: New Bedford Whaling Museum
18 Johnny Cake Hill
New Bedford, MA 02740

I finished reading Moby Dick by Herman Melville in mid-October, and I can hardly believe it's the same novel I read in college. You probably know that Melville based the story on his own experiences as a sailor aboard the Acushnet. But did you know that he was inspired by the true story of the Essex? The Essex was a whaling ship that was sunk by a sperm whale in the South Pacific, leaving the crew members in a fight for their survival in their much smaller whaleboats. Even a small bit of research makes it easy for me to see why Melville was fascinated with their story. He turned it into a work of literature: a fictionalized account that was based in lurid and sensational news. No wonder it's a timeless classic. Come hear it for yourself!

For word nerds like me: The spelling of Moby Dick appears both with and without the hyphen. I'm going to follow the style used in my own copy, originally published in 1930, which doesn't use a hyphen.

*** Just in case any Nerd Fun members want to read Moby Dick and attend the marathon: I think you still have time! ***

*** It's hard to tell this far in advance, but I know I will want to arrive early at the New Bedford Whaling Museum; I want to hear Ishmael say his opening line. I don't know if I will stay for the entire marathon, and I don't know if I will even make a decision about that until I get there. ***

*** Anyone with suggestions about where to eat in New Bedford, in the vicinity of the museum, can e-mail me through Meetup. Please make sure your suggestions come with vegetarian options (I am a vegetarian). We should have a backup plan in case the "light whaleship fare, including grog and cider" just won't do. From what I read, the whaling crews of yore did not eat very well! ***

I posted this event in October 2010 in case anyone wants to read Moby Dick before hearing some (or all?) of it read aloud on January 8, 2011. I will continue to post updates as we get closer to January. In the meantime, you can get lots of information about the New Bedford Whaling Museum at

Here's what the museum's website says about the Fifteenth Annual Moby Dick Marathon:

Noon, Saturday, January 8, 2011

A young bearded sailor will appear at noon, Saturday, January 8, 2011, in the 19th-century garb of a whaleman on the deck of the New Bedford Whaling Museum's half-scale whaling bark Lagoda and say, "Call me Ishmael."

Thus begins the Museum's 15th annual Moby Dick Marathon, a nonstop reading of the great American classic commemorating the anniversary of the departure from the whaling port of New Bedford of the Fairhaven ship Acushnet with 21-year-old Herman Melville aboard.

From the moment those words are uttered to approximately 25 hours later when Ishmael is rescued from the Pacific by the Rachel, about 150 readers each will have read a short passage from this novel. Some will have read in Portuguese, Japanese, Italian, Danish, Spanish, or French, followed by that same passage in English. Traditional whaleship fare will have been consumed, washed down by coffee and cider. And a few hardy souls will have stayed for the whole adventure.

Readers will include descendants of Herman Melville and their families, professors, fishermen, schoolteachers, selectmen, students, journalists, legislators, physicians, clergy, and other lovers of Melville and Moby Dick. Spectators are welcome at any time. Admission for the entire event is free.

Saturday Jan. 8, 2011?Sunday Jan. 9, 2011

Starting at 8 bells in the forenoon watch (noon for lubbers) in front of the giant Moby Dick mural in the Lagoda Room.

Starting at 4 bells in the 1st dog watch (6 p.m.), light whaleship fare, including grog and cider will be served.

Coffee and snacks will be available throughout the night, with breakfast to follow at 8 bells (8 a.m.) in the morning watch. Join with us in this celebration of our heritage. Come at any time. Leave at any time. The Marathon lasts approximately 25 hours.

Interested in reading?

Requests for an 8- to 10- minute reading slot will be taken beginning at 12:01 a.m., November 15, 2010. Please be sure to give us several alternative times when you could read by calling[masked]-0046. Please follow voice prompts and we will get back to you during the second week of December to confirm your reading time.

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