It’s that time of year again — when Herman Melville left from New Bedford on a whaling trip that would inform his iconic novel, “Moby-Dick.”
And with the anniversary comes the Moby-Dick Marathon, a round-the-clock reading of the entire book, hosted by the New Bedford Whaling Museum.
Museum CEO Amanda McMullen said going all-online this year sparked some fresh ideas.
“People are doing their reading from home, so they have brought their own theatrical flair to their studios and sets that they created in their living rooms and around their kitchen tables, which is kind of neat,” she said.
In addition to the reading, the 25th annual marathon includes an opening lecture Friday night, trivia, and a chat with Melville scholars. Reading of the novel starts Saturday at noon.
McMullen said the virtual event has attracted a big audience — far larger than the 3,000 people who normally attend in person.
“We've exploded online,” she said, “and we are picking up audiences, frankly, from all over the world.”
She expects the audience to exceed 8,000, she said.
For the opening passage, the marathon often features a notable reader, such as a Melville descendant. This year, the Whaling Museum decided to offer the honor to the community in a raffle; the winner was Deborah Jackson Weiss.
Others among the more than 100 readers include U.S. Sen. Ed Markey; Jennifer Smith, superintendent of the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park; Thomas Anderson, superintendent of the New Bedford Public Schools; New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell; leaders of numerous community organizations; and dozens of Melville aficionados.
Details are at whalingmuseum.org.
The Nantucket Atheneum held Moby-Dick marathons for several years and now holds them on occasion, but not annually.