The New Bedford Whaling Museum's Moby-Dick Marathon is an annual non-stop reading of Herman Melville's literary masterpiece. The multi-day program of entertaining activities and events is presented every January. Admission to the Marathon is free.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

MDM23 "post-mortemising"

Gone but not (completely) forgotten...

Let's stow away January's MDM before the 2020 event is upon us.

MDM23 was one for the books — the bicentennial of Melville's birth was coming in August, the weather was mild (for January), and the roads were clear and dry. The result: "a record crowd." The museum reported "over 1500 through the doors" during the three days. (Ahem, "over 2900" were reported for MDM16.)

Things proceeded along the lines of past MDMs, established with the introduction of Stump the Scholars in 2011. That's MDMs number 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, and 22!

10:00 AM
It's "Stump," with MC Michael Dyer of the museum, and scholars Wyn Kelley (M.I.T), Timothy Marr (UNC), Christopher Sten (George Washington U.), Jennifer Baker (NYU), Robert Wallace (U. of Kentucky), and Mary K. Bercaw Edwards (Univ. of Conn & Mystic Seaport).
Michael was feeling generous. At least nine "I Stumped..." buttons were awarded.
Over the years, we in the audience have learned that you can't stump this group with quotidian queries. Our questions have become ever more abstruse, often causing deliberations to devolve into an open, and informative, discussion. That's entertainment!

On the subject of scholars, I hesitate to mention the "Chat with a Melville scholar" sessions — they are in danger of outgrowing the room. Still, if you want to expand your appreciation of Melville, and fill some gaps in your erudition, make a point of dropping in. This is a very patient and generous group of scholars/educators with a wide range of backgrounds and specialties!

11:23 AM - after "Stump"
Familiar faces, and a welcome sighting of Peter Whittemore, HM's g-g-grandson.
Jim Braude and Margery Eagan, of Boston radio & TV, were introduced and presented with mementos (see below). Jim got to read "Call me..."
The live stream was moved to YouTube this year — better results for viewers, fewer headaches for Michael Lapides & staff.
1:18 PM
New Bedford Mayor, John Mitchell, reading Chapter 6 as is customary.
1:21 PM
To the Seamen's Bethel for chapters 7-9.
9:53 PM - still a decent crowd.
The MDM is always evolving! This year the usual readers' lecterns were replaced by comfy chairs. The atmosphere was less like religious service and more like a cozy neighborhood book club (or Russell Baker's intros to Masterpiece Theatre).
Sightlines were not great for those in the back. Maybe the museum could raise the readers' area a bit for MDM24?

1:43 AM
The sweet, still heart of the MDM.
6:19 AM
Tjitske, from the Netherlands, reads Chapter 94 in Dutch at her ninth(?) MDM.
Tjitske's audience.
It's just after noon for her friends at home watching the live stream.
(Impossible to discern at this resolution, but that's Ira in the other reader's chair.)
6:41 AM
The museum's Harbor View Gallery is aptly named.
11:02 AM
Who doesn't love a good shipwreck? The audience swells for the dramatic finale.

...Then it's off to the pub to celebrate another fine MDM.
Monday morning...
For safety's sake, get a good night's sleep, then drive home.
Jim Braude sporting his NBWM tie on Monday evening's Greater Boston.

MDM24 is Coming! Reserve your Bethel spot & Reader slot!

Registration opens at 12:01 AM, Nov. 8, for readers at the 24th Moby-Dick Marathon, the Portuguese Marathon, and the Children's Marathon. (MDM24 is Jan. 3-5, 2020.)

You can also enter the drawing for a seat at the historic Seamen’s Bethel, where chapters 7-9 are read/performed.

Don't dally. Registration usually closes within a few weeks.

(Yes, the twin podia are gone, replaced for MDM23 by two comfy chairs.)

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Let a hundred flowers blossom - 2019

Other MDMs in 2019

Edited 6/26/19 - Dates for Rosenbach MDM added.
For those who may be hesitant to venture to New Bedford in January, here are a few alternatives to note.

April 26-28: The fourth annual Moby-Dick Marathon Reading at the Provincetown public library. This reading is spread over three days, so you can enjoy a bit of springtime in P'town. (Apologies for the late notice.)

June 7-9: Canio's Books in Sag Harbor returns with a multi-day MDM. A raft of events leads up to the marathon, including a talk by Mary K. Bercaw-Edwards on May 4.

July 31-August 1: The 34th(!) annual Moby-Dick Marathon at the Mystic Seaport Museum. This reading takes place aboard the whaleship Charles W. Morgan. Attendance is limited; call to reserve space if staying overnight. August 1 is Melville's 200th birthday—expect a special MDM at Mystic.

August 1-4 ?: The third annual Moby-Dick reading at Arrowhead Farm. This reading is spread over several days, and includes a hike up Monument Mountain. Details haven't been posted yet.

October ?: At the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, promises a "uniquely San Franciscan" MDM. Last done here in 2018. Details not yet posted; see Commemorates Melville's brief visit to San Fran in 1860.

November 9-10: The Rosenbach Museum repeats its annual (since 2017) MDM at the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia. Watch the Rosenbach calendar for details. [Hat-tip to Prof.]

The November New York City MDM was bi-annual for a while, but appears to be in hibernation.

Missed the MDM at the Newberry Library, Jan. 19-20. This does not appear to be an annual event.

Missed the M-D Marathon Read of Virginia, March 21-22. Their Facebook page has links to an archived video stream. This does not appear to be an annual event.

The Nantucket Historical Association had an MDM in 2014. This past February they offered a two-hour Multi-lingual Moby-Dick Reading Event. A full MDM might return some year.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

If you can't make it to New Bedford...

MDM23 is now days away. The weather forecast is for chilly, but dry, conditions, so don't miss this opportunity to join the (quiet) celebration.

If this is your first time, check out the Marathon Overview page to get an idea of what you can expect. Links in the "Essentials" section (at right) can help you pack; and find parking, food, and lodgings.

If you can't make it to New Bedford, follow Twitter hashtag #mdm23, and check the Whaling Museum's website for a link to the live video stream. The reading proper will start Saturday at Noon, January 5.

If it's easier for you to get to Chicago, consider attending the Moby-Dick Read-a-Thon, January 19-20, at the Newberry Library.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Japan to Resume Commercial Whaling

photo: New Bedford Whaling Museum Blog
Bob Rocha, Director of Education and Science Programs, sums this up nicely on the Whaling Museum Blog.

Also noted in the New York Times, here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Norton Critical Editions of Moby-Dick x3

Originally published February 10, 2018;
Edited to append Gansevoort's "Physical Notes."
Norton Critical 1st, 2nd, and 3rd -- Collect 'em all.

I just got the "Third Norton Critical Edition" of Moby-Dick (NCE3).  I had to order it through a third-party seller on Amazon, and it shipped from Europe.  At the moment, it doesn't appear to be available at all on Amazon, whether from Mr. Bezos himself or a third-party seller.  Oddly, even the publisher's website shows only the second edition right now.  A number of sellers at ABE Books (which has become an affiliate of Amazon) are offering it, however.

First, let me say how surprised, pleased, and honored I am to see Gansevoort's (mainly) and my humble efforts mentioned on page 687, in Mary K. Bercaw Edwards and Wyn Kelley's essay (written specially for NCE3), "Melville and the Spoken Word."  The essay digs deep below the surface of the Moby-Dick Marathon phenomenon, which is more extensive than even I had realized.  Of all the books that could have inspired so mighty a sound, why Moby-Dick?

Second, I am surprised and pleased to see that, while NCE3 does not have an apparatus as extensive as that of NCE1, the editor, Hershel "Mr. Melville" Parker, has provided a convenient list of emendations, something that was entirely absent from NCE2.  (This is the first Norton Critical Moby-Dick not to be co-edited by Harrison Hayford, who died in 2001, shortly before NCE2 came out.)

Between NCE1 and NCE2, the explanatory footnotes to the text itself were greatly and usefully expanded.  As far as I could tell from a quick spot-check, the footnotes in NCE3 have not changed from those in NCE2 (although a few have been split into multiple notes).  That's all to the good, as far as I'm concerned -- the quantity of footnotes in NCE2 was just right.

This is a new edition because the assortment of goodies at the end of the volume has been switched up, just as with NCE2.   Among the newcomers are Prof. Parker's "Glimpses of Melville as Performer" and six essays under the heading "Moby-Dick in the Twenty-First Century" (where Mary K. Bercaw Edwards and Wyn Kelley's entry appears).

But this is only a glimpse of how NCE3's critical caboose differs from that of NCE2.  Though my opinion is not entirely disinterested, all three editions are well worth having.

Norton Critical Editions Moby Dick [NCE2 vs NCE1]

Added by Gansevoort, 12/12/2018.

Physical Notes

NCE3 is a "tighter" publication than NCE2. The pages are the same height, but are slightly narrower (by about 3/32"). The font, font size, and leading are identical. (See the Typeface Tally.) The width of the text block on the page is the same; however, top and bottom margins are reduced in NCE3, displaying 51 lines of text per page where NCE2 displayed 50. (The line breaks have changed, too; usually, but not always, rendering the same text in fewer lines.)

The net result is that NCE3 presents Etymology through FINIS in 405 pages vs. NCE2's 421—3.8% fewer pages. Less wood is good, right?

Measuring the thickness of 100 pages in each edition with calipers, the paper stock in NCE3 is about 14% thinner than that of NCE2. (The stock feels almost like bible leaves.) The show-through is about the same in each.


Hershel Parker, now in his eighties, has blogged that NCE3 marks "the end of a long career." The three Norton Critical editions represent over fifty years of rigorous work. Thank you, Mr. Parker.

Not for the squeamish

photo: Wikimedia
The brilliant BBC podcast, Witness, recently posted an interview with a seaman who worked on an industrial whaler in the 1950's/60's—"A personal account of the huge Antarctic industry which left whales on the brink of extinction."

(9 minutes long) Listen or download.