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.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Crack fellows all #4

...crack fellows all, and capital from boot-heels to hat-band.
                                                                                       - Chapter 101

 Tjitske and Tonnie at MDM16

Tjitske and Tonnie first ventured to New Bedford in 2011 for MDM15. Tonnie had read a recent, improved Dutch translation of M-D, then somehow heard about the Marathon. They came from their home in The Netherlands to celebrate his 50th birthday. Tjitske took the podium to read from The Whiteness of the Whale in her native tongue. (Listen to a clip.)

2011 was the year of the great snows in Massachusetts. The couple was "vacationing" in Boston while the city was paralyzed by repeated blizzards, but they took it in stride. Tonnie, a literature fan, wanted to visit Kerouac's grave in Lawrence. We drove to the cemetery, but could not find the flat marker under two feet of fresh snow!

They returned for MDM16, where Tjitske read again in Dutch; and they will be back for MDM17! Tjitske is assigned a 10:10 A.M. time slot (Sunday, Jan. 6) to read (in  Dutch, of course). That will be 4:10 P.M. in the Netherlands, so their friends can watch her on the live webcast.

Tonnie finds parallels between Ahab and General Custer. (There's a topic for a beer-fueled discussion!) Tjitske notes that "speksynder" of Chapter XXXIII is a corruption of the Dutch "spek snijder" ("fat cutter" or "blubber cutter," as explained in M-D). Somehow the original snijder (pronounced "snyder") became "synder." Whale in Dutch is walvis; blubber is walvisspek.

Respect is due: the Dutch ruled the oceans for generations. They were hunting whales around Greenland as early as 1586, according to Ashley's The Yankee Whaler, and it wasn't until the late 1700s that their whale fishery was "on the wane" (Ashley, p.26).

Look for Tjitske and Tonnie at MDM17, and say hi.

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