Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Moby Marathon

This year marks the bicentennial of the birth of author Herman Melville. Though he was actually born in August, November was the beginning of the narrator's journey in Moby-Dick, so it is this weekend that the Rosenbach Library and the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia will be sponsoring a marathon reading of the novel. And I'll be there.

Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off--then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.

Thus begins the unnamed narrator who asks us to call him Ishmael. I won't be reading those lines, but I am slated to read Chapter 10, "A Bosom Friend," about Ishmael and his shipmate Queequeg.

I wrote my own stage adaptation of Moby-Dick which premiered at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater on Cape Cod. This weekend, though, it will be a treat to experience the full text of the novel as part of a 25-hour marathon.

The reading will commence at 2:00 pm on Saturday, November 9th inside the Independence Seaport Museum. We'll be on the deck of the Schooner Diligence, which is a full-scale replica of a historic ship and is located inside the main exhibition hall. Organizers estimate the reading will end at approximately 3:15 pm on Sunday, November 10th.

I'll actually be sneaking out for part of the marathon on Sunday to catch my friend Herb Moskovitz give a talk at the Philadelphia Branch of the Wodehouse Society about the stage and screen adaptations of A Damsel in Distress, a novel that is admittedly lighter fare than Moby-Dick, but did inspire a musical with songs by George and Ira Gershwin.

Anyway, the Moby-Dick marathon is free and open to the public, so stop by the Independence Seaport Museum sometime this weekend if you happen to be in Philadelphia. It should be a voyage to remember.