Past Meetup

Fifteenth Annual Moby Dick Marathon at the New Bedford Whaling Museum

This Meetup is past

5 people went


### As of January 4, 2011, my plan is to arrive at the New Bedford Whaling Museum at 11:30 a.m. I want to be there for Ishmael's opening line. I'll have a Meetup sign, and I'll have at least one multicolored striped pillow. I hope to stay long enough to hear Father Mapple's sermon at the Seamen's Bethel. My back is protesting all sorts of sitting activities these last few days so it's highly unlikely that I'll last more than the afternoon and maybe (maybe) the evening. ###

### I hear rumors about winter weather starting on Friday, but forecasters don't seem to know just yet what we should expect. Stay tuned! I will let you know if I need to cancel. ###

### Per my phone call to the New Bedford Whaling Museum on January 4, 2011: The Fifteenth Moby Dick Marathon will go on no matter what the weather! ###

***Per my phone call to the New Bedford Whaling Museum on December 16, 2010:***

***The Moby Dick Marathon moves around the museum. Readers move to various exhibits and audience members move with them. Part of the marathon includes a visit to Seamen’s Bethel on 15 Johnny Cake Hill. If you have read Moby Dick, you know why this location is included! John Huston filmed scenes here in his 1956 adaptation of the novel. You can see these scenes, which feature Orson Welles as Father Mapple, at the Seamen’s Bethel website: Seamens' Bethel (***

***“Don’t be shy” -- direct quote from the museum representative about bringing blankets, pillows, and cushions. (Heck, I might bring my yoga mat and make myself at home!)***

***If you stay for the entire marathon (approximately 25 hours), and you do not leave the museum or the Seamen’s Bethel, you will be honored at an awards ceremony at the end of the marathon. I think the museum hands out signed copies of Moby Dick as part of the awards. (My question: Original copies signed by Melville?) But this means you must eat what the museum serves and you can’t leave for a meal outside the museum.***

***Melville descendant Mr. Whittemore is scheduled to read. You can join him and other readers, if you wish, by signing up as a stand-by reader once you arrive at the museum. The New Bedford Whaling Museum is arranging the schedule for readers.***

***All-day (24 hours) parking is $10.00 at the Elm Street Garage in New Bedford.***

Anyone with suggestions about where to eat in New Bedford, in the vicinity of the museum, can e-mail me through Meetup. One option I know of is the Celtic Coffee House (I got this from the museum's website and ate there in December -- very charming). I also know of a pizzeria near the museum. 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 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.

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. 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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