The New Bedford Whaling Museum's Moby-Dick Marathon is an annual non-stop reading of Herman Melville's literary masterpiece. The multi-day program of entertaining activities and events is presented every January. Admission to the Marathon is free.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Readers, reserve your podium time!

If you want to have a turn reading at MDM22, you need to make a reservation.

Reservations can be made online, starting at 12:01 AM, Tuesday, November 7. Go to the museum's MDM22 page for directions.

On that same page, at the same time, you'll be able to enter a drawing for a seat in the Seamen's Bethel for the reading of Father Mapple's sermon.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

MDM22 is ON (of course)

In case you had any doubt...

MDM22 is on the museum's official schedule, for January 5-7, 2018.

Mark your calendar!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

An afternoon to uplift the spirit...

Coming up Sunday, Feb. 12, the Frederick Douglass "mini-marathon." This is an annual reading of The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, mounted by the New Bedford Historical Society. (The Society's Facebook page is more current than its website.)

This is a great event. Only four hours long, yet it is moving in ways the MDM can never be.

See previous posts about this reading.


Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017
2 PM - 6 PM
First Unitarian Church in New Bedford
71 8th St., New Bedford, MA

Friday, January 13, 2017

MDM21 "post-mortemising"

A drawing for Bethel seats? Five-minute reading slots? A ticketed Friday-night lecture?

Was the MDM getting too big to be fun?

Going into MDM21 we worried that our beloved annual event might be losing its charm; its atmosphere of "controlled amateurism." In the end it proved to be a great one—in a unique way (as always).  Each MDM seems to have a distinct character. MDM21 felt "broad." There were lots of options for folks who wanted a break from the main event.


  • A-B scored another button (and cool chowder mug) at Saturday morning's Stump the Scholars. (It helps if your question is first of the morning, before the scholars' coffee kicks in.)
    Our question: What is the most modern technology mentioned in M-D?
  • A few of us took a laptop into the sperm whale skeleton gallery for the Cetology chapter, and watched the live stream there, reliving a cherished tradition of bygone marathons.
  • An exhibit of paintings by William Bradford.
  • An exhibit, in what used to be the MDM's "break room," of clothes and beautiful household objects from New Bedford's glory days.
  • Many of the museum areas remained open all night, offering out-of-the-way spots to kip.

Of note...

For the second year running, Bob Rocha awarded a small gift, not for staying on-site all 25 hours, but for staying awake for the entire marathon. Rules me out.

I might get around to posting photos, but the sights were much the same as previous years. The video stream of MDM21 is archived here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Get Ready!

MDM21 is just ten days away!

Ye Marathon Virgins, check out this post from 2011 for the what/where/how of the Moby-Dick Marathon.

For 2017, you'll want to be there to hear the opening reader, Peter Gansevoort Whittemore—Melville's great-great-grandson and friend to blogging amateurs.

If you want to sit in the Seamen's Bethel for the dramatic reading of chapters 7, 8, and 9, you'll have to "win" a drawing. Enter now!

At present, the New Bedford Marriott has vacancies for Marathon weekend. If you can't make it in person, watch the video stream, live from noon Saturday until about 1 P.M. Sunday.

...and watch Twitter hashtag #mdm21.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Today in History

[Originally posted 11/20/2011]
One hundred ninety-six years ago (November 20, 1820) was the event that started it all, for us Marathoners: The whaleship Essex, out of Nantucket and hunting in the south Pacific, was struck and sunk by a large sperm whale. The crew of twenty set out in three whaleboats. Eight survived.

Owen Chase
Owen Chase (1798-1869) was the first mate on the Essex. He wrote about the incident in Narrative of the Most Extraordinary and Distressing Shipwreck of the Whale-Ship Essex.

On July 23, 1841, the whaleship Acushnet gammed with the Lima about 2000 miles west of Ecuador. At this gam, Melville met Owen's son, William Henry Chase, and "first held a copy of Chase's Narrative."

Melville recalled years later, "The reading of this wondrous story upon the landless sea, & close to the very latitude of the shipwreck, had a surprising effect upon me." (Herman Melville, v.1; Hershel Parker, 1996)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Be a Reader for the 21st Moby-Dick Marathon

It's official—the New Bedford Whaling Museum's 21st Moby-Dick Marathon (MDM21) will be January 6-8, 2017.

Registration for reading time-slots opens at 12:00 AM [it appears they meant "PM," aka Noon], Tuesday, November 8, 2016. Details are on the museum's site. You can sign up via phone, e-mail, or online form. If you speak Portuguese, consider reading in the Portuguese Mini-Marathon.

New this year is a drawing for seats in the Seamen's Bethel for the reading of chapter 9, The Sermon. Readers will be given preference!

Also, readers get admittance to a malasada feast on Sunday morning.