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January 3rd-5th, 2014
The Moby-Dick Marathon at the New Bedford Whaling Museum is the world’s best known readathon of Herman Melville's literary masterpiece. It is a nonstop reading commemorating the anniversary of the departure of the ship Acushnet from the whaling port of New Bedford with 21-year-old Herman Melville aboard.
Our 18th Moby-Dick Marathon is the longest continually running readathon of Herman Melville’s literary masterpiece.
Sponsored by Empire Loan and Rockland Trust
Reader sign-up began Tuesday, November 12, at 12:01 a.m. Request a 7-10 minute reading slot. Provide preferred time and two alternates. Potential readers who were shut out in 2013 will receive priority for 2014. Reading slots are filling quickly.
2011 Moby-Dick Marathon in progress
Every year, early in January, a local celebrity figure traditionally kicks-off the reading, beginning with the most famous opening line in American literature, "Call me Ishmael." From the moment those words are uttered to approximately 25 hours later when Ishmael is rescued from the Pacific by the Rachel, more than 150 readers each will have read a short passage from this novel. Some will have read in Portuguese, Japanese, Italian, Danish, Spanish, Hebrew, Russian and/or French, followed by that same passage in English. One passage will have been read from Braille. The Seamen’s Bethel will have hosted the singing of “The Ribs and Terrors in the Whale” and the reading of Father Mapple’s sermon. At the end, a few hardy souls will have stayed for the whole adventure.
Readers will include professors, fishermen, schoolteachers, students, congressmen, mayors, city councillors, journalists, physicians, clergy, and other lovers of Melville and Moby-Dick.
Livestreaming of the event is provided throughout the weekend for those who cannot make it to New Bedford.
A capacity crowd gathers in the Jacobs Family
Friday, January 3
- 4:00 - 6:30 p.m. Martin & Moby exhibit opens, Centre Street Gallery
- 5:30 p.m. Ticketed dinner and cash bar in the Jacobs Family Gallery followed by a free public lecture in the Cook Memorial Theater. Tickets are $29.00 each and can be purchased online or by calling (508) 997-0046 x100.
- 7:15 p.m. A free, pre-Marathon lecture will feature Gene Scheer, librettist for the Moby-Dick Opera. The presentation will be interview style, led by Melville Scholar, Dr. Robert Wallace. Cook Memorial Theater
Saturday, January 4
- 10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Stump the Scholars – The audience is invited to pose questions to Melville Society scholars on all matters Moby-Dick, patterned after a popular public radio quiz show. Prizes are awarded to those able to stump the scholars. Cook Memorial Theater
- 11:30 a.m. Moby-Dick “Extracts”– Melville Society members will read many of the 80 brief Extracts related to whales and whaling, which Melville included before Chapter 1. Bourne Building
- 11:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Welcome by James Russell
- 11:45 a.m. Live-streaming begins with opening ceremony
- 12:00 p.m. Moby-Dick Marathon begins, Bourne Building
- Approx 1:15 p.m. Marathon moves to Seamen’s Bethel for Father Mapple’s sermon
- 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Chat with Melville Scholars, Wattles Gallery
- 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Chat with artist Peter Michael Martin, Centre Street Gallery
- 6:00 p.m. – Conversation between Vanessa Hodgkinson, Artist and Christina Connett, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions, Wattles Gallery
- Approx 7:30 p.m. Culture*Park performs Chapter 40 ‘Forecastle – Midnight’. Cook Memorial Theater
- Approx 8:30 p.m. Marathon continues, Jacobs Family Gallery
Sunday, January 5
- 9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Chat with Melville Scholars, Wattles Gallery
- 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Chat with artist Peter Michael Martin, Centre Street Gallery
- 1:00 pm Moby-Dick Marathon ends
Marathon Reading Timetable: Approximate Time, Page and Chapter in the book for each Watch (based on notes from 2008). Click here for the Reading Timetable.
In addition to the nonstop reading – additional activities that weekend include:
- Related Museum exhibition: Martin & Moby by local Moby-Dick-inspired artist Peter Michael Martin.
- Ongoing related exhibitions in the Museum and Research Library
- Teen Apprentice Slideshow – Images related to the book are projected in the Cook Memorial Theater throughout the Marathon
The public is cordially invited to come and go at any time during the marathon, or stay awake for the entire 25 hours and win a prize.
Admission for the entire event is free.
Please help us preserve this important community event by making your donation today.
Clicking here will take you to our secure store for online donations.
Slideshow of the Moby-Dick Marathon in 2011 at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.
Tweet this event using #MDM18
Link to the Moby-Dick Marathon 2013 page.
Thank you to Empire Loan Charitable Foundation and Rockland Trust for sponsoring this year's event.