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.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The MDC at Arrowhead

I was fortunate to catch William Petit at Arrowhead, talking about his renowned Moby Dick Collection. It was great to finally meet the man behind one of my "must read" blogs.

Mr. Petit spent the morning in Melville's study creating a watercolor of the view out toward Mt. Greylock. (His painting is visible in the left corner of the photo above.) Later he talked about the genesis of his collection, the surprises encountered, and the insights gleaned in the process of accumulating over 200 copies of Moby-Dick.

His current white whale is a braille edition. As John Hartford sang, "Next time you go to the attic, look and see what you got."

Friday, August 24, 2012

Happy Duplicates

...they seem a mob of unnecessary duplicates...
                           - Chapter 107

I'm looking forward to Bill Petit's talk at Arrowhead this weekend (details in this post). He is the keeper of The Moby Dick Collection, an ever-growing stockpile of hard-copy editions of our cherished text.

Highlights of the collection are posted on his blog — old and new, hardcover and paperback, English and "non" (Estonian anyone?).

He muses over the various illustrations of Ahab (right-pegged or left?).

He is especially fond of copies that indicate the reader's relationship with the book. Why did Judith Spiegler cease her underlinings on page 240? How did tenth-grader Douglas Rogers feel about receiving M-D as a mathematics prize (circa 1949)? Did young Vermonter "Pete H." ever finish the novel, after repeated renewals from the Flynn School library? What's with the teeth marks on this 1942 Dodd, Mead & Co.?

I suspect that most of us Melvillians have our own, smaller, "Moby-Dick Collections" — editions we've adopted out of a sense of pity, or lust.

Of what use is such a "collection" of apparent duplicates? One benefit was driven home after the Scholar Chats at MDM16 [long-story alert]...

Professor Mary K. Bercaw Edwards (U. Conn.) had asked the group if we ever wondered why there were so many duplicates in M-D: two departure ports (New Bedford and Nantucket), two inns, two innkeepers, two would-be mentors (Bulkington and Queequeg) , two (or three) captains (Bildad, Peleg, Ahab) ...and why does Bulkington disappear after the first hundred-or-so pages?

Northwestern University professor Harrison Hayford, she said, had written a paper explaining why.

Back home, the question became, where to find Hayford's paper? A bit of Web searching revealed that it is included in the Norton Critical Edition, 2nd Edition. Hey, I have a copy of that! Picked it up for 50¢ at a library book sale, mostly for the rigging diagrams.

Those "duplicate" M-Ds are anything but unnecessary.

BTW, Hayford's Unnecessary Duplicates is fascinating. He deduces Melville's process of composition from the appearance of "duplicates" and details of word choice.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Herman's 193rd

courtesy of jasonlam
Remembering our man, born 11:30 P.M. on Sunday, August 1, 1819, at 6 Pearl Street, NYC.
Here's Google's view of that location today:

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