Volunteers gear up for a whale of a reading The likeness of a whale adorns a door at the New Bedford Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Mass. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File)
Volunteers gear up for a whale of a reading
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"Moby-Dick" fans from around the world celebrated their own grueling quest, a marathon reading of Herman Melville's classic.
 
The New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts held its 20th annual nonstop reading of the seminal man vs. whale novel on Jan. 9-10, with a few new twists to mark the anniversary.
 
What started with just "a couple of die-hards and some grog," according to museum president and CEO James Russell, has grown into an event that culminates in a cover-to-cover, 25-hour reading of the book aloud by about 150 volunteers. Hundreds attend the live event and thousands more watch a live stream.
 
The event has become so popular that this year's reading spots were snapped up within an hour.
 
"This is my favorite museum event of the year," Russell said. "It touches on so many dimensions: the literary experience, the physical works of art, the theatrical performance, the workshops and focus groups."
 
The readers were young and old. They included Melville scholars and Melville descendants. They come from across the country and overseas. This year's celebrity reader, who traditionally kicks things off by reading what has been called the most famous opening line in literature, "Call me Ishmael," was award-winning author Nathaniel Philbrick.
 
Portions were read in foreign languages including Spanish, French and Dutch.
 
The reading moves through different galleries of the museum, even at one pointing sailing up the cobblestone street to the Seamen's Bethel - the Whaleman's Chapel in the novel.
 
New for this year was a four-hour reading of a Portuguese adaptation of "Moby-Dick," and a two-hour children's version, read by kids ages 8 to 12.
 
Philbrick, who wrote "In the Heart of the Sea," which won the National Book Award for nonfiction and was made into a movie of the same name, called it an honor to get things started.
 
"It's written with such force and complexity and beautiful language," he said.
 
Philbrick confesses he didn't read "Moby-Dick" until he was "forced to" as a senior in high school, even though his father was a university English professor who specialized in American maritime literature. Now, he estimates he's read the book a dozen times.
 
"Ishmael was the best friend I had not met and I was completely harpooned," he said. "It's become like my personal bible."
 
Every year about 25 to 30 caffeine-fueled Melville aficionados manage to stay awake for the entire reading, Russell said.
 
"It's an immersive experience," he said.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why are some people “forced” to read "Moby Dick"?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (31)
  • yinyinmoeoo-eri
    1/15/2016 - 11:11 a.m.

    Some people are forced to read Moby Dick because it is one of the best books all over the world.And the content in it is pretty interesting and the use of words are beautiful.People can know much about the whales by reading this book.

  • eindrakhinemin-eri
    1/16/2016 - 10:18 a.m.

    Some people are forced to read "Moby Dick"because it is an interesting and wonderful book and worth for everybody to read. The chapters are short ones and it will make you less boring. It describes about the nature of the whales in an interesting way and we can get much knowledge.

  • ayechanthu-eri
    1/16/2016 - 09:18 p.m.

    Some people are "forced" to read "Moby Dick" because they should have knowledge about the aquatic animals. Also, some people commented it as "one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world" and "the greatest book of the sea ever written". In this book, knowledge about whale hunting and extracting whale oil are mentioned and therefore, the readers can easily know about those knowledge without going into the sea and doing themselves. In that book, those knowledge are mixed with explorations of social status and class, good and evil and the existence of God. So, just by reading this poem, the reader can know more about society and even the religion. That book is also written with beautiful language so that the readers will be more interested and for children, they can learn more about language use. As the book "Moby Dick" is a notable and precious book featured with some knowledgeable facts and use of words, almost all people, not just some people, are forced to read it at least once in lifetime.

  • htarsandi-eri
    1/30/2016 - 03:24 a.m.

    Some people are "FORCED" to read "Moby Dick" because they can learn about aquatic animals. It is also one of the best books in the world. Once they read it, they are going to love it. Therefore, they are going to read a dozen times like Philbrick. They can not only learn more the use of words but also the facts of the whales. By reading this book, they don't need to research about whales physically. They can just read the book to know about whales. Since they can get a lot of knowledge from this book, they are "Forced" to read "Moby Dick."

  • coled-fel
    2/12/2016 - 02:19 p.m.

    CTQ: Some people may be forced to read Moby Dick because of a project of some sorts going on in middle school, high school, or college.

  • garretta-fel
    2/12/2016 - 02:20 p.m.

    Some people are forced to read Moby Dick because it could be due for an assignment.

  • ethany-fel
    2/12/2016 - 02:22 p.m.

    some people are "forced to read "Moby Dick" because some parents tell them to

  • travond-fel
    2/12/2016 - 02:23 p.m.

    he was forced to read as a seinor

  • lucasp-fel
    2/12/2016 - 02:23 p.m.

    they are forced to reed it because it is a sport

  • calaabj-fel
    2/12/2016 - 02:24 p.m.

    Some people are "forced" to read "moby dick" for a grade in high school.

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