Moby-Dick Marathon celebrates 15 years with three days of activities, Jan. 7-9

The Moby-Dick Marathon celebrates its fifteenth annual non-stop reading of Herman Melville’s literary masterpiece with an expanded 3-day program of entertaining activities and events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, January 7-9, 2011. Admission to the Marathon is free.

Since 1995, the Museum has marked the anniversary of Herman Melville’s 1841 departure from the Port of New Bedford and Fairhaven aboard the whale ship Acushnet, with a 25-hour nonstop reading of Moby-Dick. The Marathon has grown to become a midwinter tradition, which attracts hundreds of Melville enthusiasts. Readers come from all walks of life, including students, scholars, fishermen, schoolteachers, community leaders, journalists, legislators, physicians, clergy, and descendants of Melville.

Weekend activities kick off on Friday, January 7th – the eve of the Marathon – with a ticketed buffet dinner and cash bar at 5:30 p.m. in the Jacobs Family Gallery. The dinner will be followed by a free public lecture at 7:15 p.m. in the Cook Memorial Theater. Dr. Elizabeth A. Schultz will present, Is Moby-Dick Still the Great American Novel? A Melville Society scholar and professor emerita of the University of Kansas, Dr. Schultz is the author of Unpainted to the Last: Moby-Dick and Twentieth Century American Art.

For tickets to the dinner ($18), call (508) 997-0046 ext. 100.

On Saturday, January 8th at 10:00 a.m., a new program titled Stump the Scholars, will allow the audience to quiz Melville Society members on all matters Moby-Dick in the Cook Memorial Theater. The free public program is patterned after National Public Radio’s popular show, “Wait, wait, don’t tell me.” No questions will be deemed too tough and prizes will be awarded.

At 11:30 a.m. a special exhibit titled Visualizing Melville opens in the changing gallery, located on the second level of the Museum adjacent to the Whaleship Fo’c’sle. The words of Herman Melville conjure up a wealth of images and the Museum’s collections are full of materials that perfectly resonate with his vivid text. Come see “Quakers with a vengeance” juxtaposed with “a heathenish array of monstrous clubs and spears.” Also, a relic from Melville’s ship, Acushnet, will be exhibited in honor of the Marathon’s fifteenth anniversary.

At 12:00 o’ clock noon on Saturday, the Moby-Dick Marathon begins its non-stop reading with the most famous opening line in American literature, “Call me Ishmael.” The public is cordially invited to this free 25-hour event, which runs through the night and concludes at approximately 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 9th with the reading of the Epilogue.

Come at any time; leave at any time, or stay the entire 25 hours and win a prize.

Throughout the reading, images related to all 135 chapters of the book will be projected in the Cook Memorial Theater, assembled and presented by the Museum’s teen apprentices of the Education Department.

Finally, via live streaming on the Museum’s website, the Marathon will circumnavigate the globe, with international readers scheduled to participate, and everyone is invited to tweet the reading at #mdm15.

Refreshments will be served throughout the Marathon. Starting at 4-bells in the 1st dog watch (Saturday at 6:00 p.m.), light whaleship fare will be offered. Coffee, cider and snacks will be available throughout the night, with breakfast to follow at 8-bells in the morning watch (Sunday at 8:00 a.m.).

The expanded weekend of activities will offer something for everyone, but reading aloud and celebrating Melville remain at the heart of the event. Reservations to read are limited. Call (508) 997-0046, ext. 151.

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