Sea-Fever blog


Google Doodle Celebrates Moby-Dick’s 161st Berthday Plus Listen to the Big Read! by Peter A. Mello

 

 

We love Moby-Dick at Sea-Fever so it was fun to stumble upon Google’s Doodle celebrating the 161st birthday of it’s publication in England. We can celebrate again next month because it was published in the US on November 14, 1851!

As a present to Sea-Fever readers, here’s the 1st chapter of the Moby-Dick Big Read. Here’s what’s that’s all about:

…an online version of Melville’s magisterial tome: each of its 135 chapters read out aloud, by a mixture of the celebrated and the unknown, to be broadcast online in a sequence of 135 downloads, publicly and freely accessible.

They started posting a chapter a day on Sept. 16, 2012. Tilda Swinton spins an awesome yarn in Chapter 1 – Loomings. There are many other interesting readers and the artwork on the website is definitely worth a visit.

Of course, if you need any help deciphering Melville’s lexicon, there’s no better place to go than Meg Guroff’s awesome PowerMobyDick website.

 



New Bedford Whaling Museum’s 15th Moby-Dick Marathon by Peter A. Mello

Some might think that reading Moby-Dick is like running a marathon. Well, this weekend reading Moby-Dick actually is a marathon event at the New Bedford Whaling Museum which is hosting it’s 15th year celebrating Melville’s American classic.

Moby-Dick Marathon poster

Beth Perdue wrote a great article in today’s Coastin’ section of the New Bedford Standard Times about what you can expect which includes the below highlights so that you can chart your experience. Standing Watch – A marathon timeline (times are approximate)

Chapter 1-6, Noon, Saturday

These first few chapters are entertaining for several reasons, including the comical treatment Melville gives to the relationship of Ishmael and Queequeg and the rare and intriguing look at the city of New Bedford as seen through Melville’s 19th-century eyes. And, this year, the Whaling Museum returns the reading’s kickoff to the Lagoda, its 89-foot, half-scale whaleship replica, adding a new layer of atmosphere to the reading.

Chapter 7-9: Seamen’s Bethel and Father Mapple sermon, 1:20 p.m.

Being in the Bethel, the inspiration for this scene, is reason enough to make the trip up Johnny Cake Hill to hear the famous sermon by Father Mapple. The sermon, full of fire and brimstone and delivered with passion for the past few years by Rev. Dr. Edward R. Dufresne, is another great reason. If that’s not enough, the hymn (from the 1956 film) that kicks off the sermon will be sung by Joanna McQuillan Weeks, local choir singer and secretary of the Ladies’ Branch of the New Bedford Port Society.

Chapter 32: “Cetology,” 6:20 p.m.

This look at the scientific classification of whales is a “love it or hate it” kind of chapter with many votes landing in the latter category. In reality, Melville scholar Dr. Laurie Robertson-Lorant said, for those willing to dive in, the chapter can be very funny. “It’s hilarious because what’s he doing is deconstructing scientific classification,” said Robertson-Lorant. “He’s poking fun at this idea that now we have everything nailed down because we can make a chart.”

Chapter 40: “Midnight Forecastle” 7:45 p.m.

Written in theatrical style, this is an annual favorite among marathoners and this year promises to be extra special with the debut of Culture*Park, the New Bedford theater ensemble, to the mix. About 10 actors will perform the section which shows the ship’s watch, made up of representatives from many countries and cultures, eyeing a coming storm.

Chapter 69: “The Funeral,” 1:30 a.m. Sunday

Melville isn’t pulling punches with this powerful look at the 19th-century industry’s brutal treatment of whales. A key image here is the floating white mass of the whale’s corpse, according to “Moby-Dick” scholar and literature professor Robert Wallace, who called it one of the strongest ecological images in 19th-century literature.

Chapter 78: “Cistern and Buckets,” 3 a.m.

A short comic chapter showing Tashtego falling into a gutted whale carcass and then into the sea, only to be rescued by Queequeg. “It has what Melville calls ‘unspeakable horror’ as well as redemption and wry humor,” said Melville expert Mary K. Bercaw Edwards.

Chapter 81: “The Pequod Meets the Virgin,” 3:30 a.m.

A good example of the fun Melville managed to work into his tragedy, this chapter combines high nationalistic comedy — spoofing the futility of the German whalers — with deep Shakespearean tragedy — in the Pequod’s unnecessary cruelty to the old, blind, wounded bull whale, according to Wallace.

Chapter 87: “The Grand Armada,” 5 a.m.

In this chapter, the whaleboat enters a circle of mother whales and calves. Scholars say for all the novel’s focus on Ahab’s obsession, the whale is the book’s central figure and this chapter is its spiritual center. “Ishmael’s vision of the baby whale in the heart of the carnage “» is the spiritual touchstone for the entire book,” said Wallace.

Chapter 93: “The Castaway,” 6:10 a.m.

The beauty of Melville’s language, noted again and again in conversations about “Moby-Dick” is especially evident in this chapter about Pip going overboard and being dragged down into the depths of the sea, according to Robertson-Lorant.

Chapter 99: “The Doubloon,” 7 a.m.

A dramatic reading where Ahab nails a doubloon to the mast and each of the whaler’s crew members interprets its meaning, each according to their subjective view point, said Robertson-Lorant.

Chapter 110: “Queequeg in His Coffin,” 9 a.m.

“The fact that Queequeg cannot interpret the tattooing on his own chest even though his own heart beats against it is a lesson for us all,” said Wallace. “The dialogue between him and Pip in this chapter is unbearably poignant.”

Chapters 133-135: “The Chase,” 11:45 a.m.

The novel ends with an action-packed bang in these final chapters when Moby-Dick appears and the whalers begin their chase in earnest. “They’re chasing Moby-Dick, knowing that they’re doomed,” said Robertson-Lorant. “The language is so dramatic. The description of fear is the best there is.”

Want to experience things like Melville did as he prepared for his journey on the whaleship Acushnet, cross the street and step into the Seamen’s Bethel (aka Whalemen’s Chapel) where Father Mapple’s sermon will be delivered. Here’s a taste:

I’m proud to be a member of the Board of Managers of the New Bedford Port Society which is the organization that owns and manages the Bethel and the historic Mariner’s Home next door.  We are currently underway on a major restoration and preservation project and if you are interested in learning more and/or supporting this effort, please email me.  If you need or know someone who needs a new website or some digital marketing help, Sea-Fever Consulting’s digitsimple program will donate 25% of all revenues generated from new projects from now until the end of February 2011 that use the code SEAMENSBETHEL. More about our Good Neighbor Program can be found at digitsimple.

Back to the marathon.

  • The majority of the event will take place in the beautiful, newly renovated Bourne Building, the homeport of the Lagoda, the largest ship model in the world.
  • Can’t sail over to New Bedford for this happening? You can still experience it via the web. The Whaling Museum say they will be live-streaming the event via their website.
  • It’s doubtful that this event will conjure up the appearance of another white whale, but you can follow the event on Twitter via the hashtag #mdm15.
  • Think you know a lot about Moby-Dick? There’s a fun sounding Stump the Scholar’s quiz game with Melville Society experts matching wits. 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. (10:00 am Saturday, January 8, 2011 in the Whaling Museum’s Cook Memorial Theater.

It sound’s like a whale of a weekend! Sea you there!



Moby-Monday: Alec Baldwin on Moby-Dick by MegDC
July 26, 2010, 9:30 am
Filed under: Book review, Moby-Monday | Tags: , ,


Last week, Tom Beer of Newsday quizzed actor Alec Baldwin on his love for Moby-Dick…and then the paper stowed the interview behind a paywall, more’s the pity. Here’s a (hopefully) fair-use excerpt:

Q: What does Moby-Dick have to say to us today?
A: We still live in a world where men are led by other men. And those men, the followers, have trouble distinguishing the membrane between the leader’s passion and his neurosis. You’re onboard that ship and you know that Ahab’s your man and you want to go get this whale, and then you find out the hard way that maybe it wasn’t the best idea. Well, isn’t that [Enron's] Jeffrey Skilling? Wasn’t it a white whale he was after?

Margaret Guroff is editor and publisher of Power Moby-Dick.



Moby Monday — A few minor adjustments by MegDC
May 31, 2010, 9:30 am
Filed under: Book review, maritime, Moby-Monday | Tags: , ,

My friend, I give you perhaps the world’s first movie tie-in: a 1925 edition of Moby-Dick illustrated with stills from the John Barrymore silent-movie version, The Sea Beast. Slight problem—the film takes dazzling liberties with Herman Melville’s novel, giving young Ahab an evil half-brother, Derek, who pushes him into the jaws of the white whale that shears off his leg. Ahab also gets a love interest, Esther, but after said shearing, Derek convinces Ahab that she could never truly love a one-legged man. (One photo bears the caption, “Sensitive of his crippled condition, Ahab interprets her love as pity and self-sacrifice.”) Ahab ends things with Esther, sets off in search of the whale he blames for ruining his life … and kills it.

“In story, the screen version of Moby-Dick exceeds the book,” writes S.R. Buchman in an “Appreciation” that precedes Melville’s Derek- and Esther-free text. “The discrepancy between the two must not be considered as a profanely wanton alteration. The episode of the book has not been misused; it has been enlarged and clarified.” And Melville’s ending provides an “unreasonably cruel fate” for Ahab, Buchman complains. “In all justice, Ahab had suffered enough to be granted expiation and its rewards, but Melville killed him.” What a blunder! “It is a relief and satisfaction that the picture version allows Ahab to live,” Buchman concludes. I can think of at least one whale who might take issue with that.

Margaret Guroff is editor and publisher of Power Moby-Dick.



Moby Monday — Monster mashups by MegDC
April 12, 2010, 9:30 am
Filed under: Book review, Moby-Monday | Tags: , , , , ,


The website Woot is holding a design competition for best “classic literature mashup” to print on a T-shirt. Moby-Dick is well-represented among the entrants. In one design, The Owl and the Pussycat float inside the contented whale’s belly; in another, Tom Sawyer’s whitewashed fence bears Moby Dick’s silhouette. There’s also a whale-besotted Little Mermaid and a bridled Moby Dick with Odysseus (?) on his back.

For my money though, the best Moby-Dick mashup isn’t a T-shirt but a comic book—Huckleberry Dick, a collage of two Classics Illustrated comics by Paris photographer Ricardo Bloch. Interweaving the first-person tales of watery voyages, Bloch discovers new humor and absurdity. (He also brings Moby-Dick’s thinly veiled homoeroticism to the fore.) The collage, created with scissors and glue in 1995, was recently published in a limited facsimile edition of 250, available for about $30 via PayPal.

Margaret Guroff is the editor and publisher of Power Moby-Dick.



Moby Monday — A Farewell Fit for a Cannibal by MegDC
March 29, 2010, 8:47 am
Filed under: Book review, Moby-Monday, new media | Tags: , , ,


It’s SkyMall’s moment. On the heels of Nina Katchadourian’s infectious "Sky Mall Kitties," a tribute in song, comes new attention to the 2006 parody book SkyMaul: Happy Crap You Can Buy From a Plane. Among the book’s pages of “Reality-Cancelling Headphones” and “Adultery Detectors” you’ll find the "Moby-Dick Hamster Coffin, a “hand-carved mini-coffin” designed to give your fluffy friend the burial-at-sea he deserves—or the life-buoy he so desperately needs.

Margaret Guroff is the editor and publisher of Power Moby-Dick.



Moby Monday — Philip Hoare’s Melville Odyssey by MegDC
January 25, 2010, 9:30 am
Filed under: Book review, Moby-Monday | Tags: ,


A year after its publication in the UK as Leviathan, author Philip Hoare’s 464-page tome—“part cultural study, part travelogue,” per the Boston Globe—will be published next week in the States as The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea. Retracing Herman Melville’s travels during the writing of Moby-Dick, Hoare discovered not only the grandeur of whales but their intelligence—so great that one scientist he quotes believes whales might have a religion.

Margaret Guroff is the editor and publisher of Power Moby-Dick.




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