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.

Monday, December 30, 2013

"Loomings" Locations, part 1

Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath afternoon. Go from Corlears Hook to Coenties Slip, and from thence, by Whitehall, northward.      - Chapter I, Loomings
We hear them in the opening minutes of every Moby-Dick Marathon—Corlears Hook, Coenties Slip, Whitehall. In one sentence, Melville mentions three well-known locations along New York's working waterfront. He also slips in a shout-out to his mother's family back in Albany, and names a spot that is tied to her family in a way even he may not have known about.

Corlears Hook
What I learned in my researches was a revelation to me—sawmills on the Hudson; north of Coenties Slip bowsprits run in over street traffic so you could touch the figureheads; the ship-chandlery shops north of Market Street (halfway between the Battery and Corlears Hook).
      - Melville Biography, An Inside Narrative; Hershel Parker; p.13
Check Google Maps—Market Street is still there, leading right down to the East River. The dockyards long gone (mostly), replaced by the FDR Drive.

Corlears Hook, 1841
According to the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, "The Corlear family, 17th century Dutch landowners, controlled much of the property in this curving landmass." Jacobus von Corlaer (the original spelling) was the first Dutch owner of a "plantation" here (Wikipedia).

By Melville's time, the area had evolved into an isolated slum, frequented by seamen from the nearby waterfront, and prostitutes. Some sources claim that the term "hooker" derives from this neighborhood's name.

Today, Corlears Hook is memorialized by a small park.

View Larger Map
Corlears Hook Park, looking south toward the river

My next posts will look at the other locations mentioned in Loomings, Coenties Slip and Whitehall, and their (surprising) ties to Melville's family.

(Note: The full map of 1841 Manhattan can be found at this outstanding Boston Public Library site.)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Gift idea! (even if it's for yourself)

Released this year: Melville Biography,
An Inside Narrative
For the Melvillian on your list is this unclassifiable tome by Hershel Parker: Melville Biography, An Inside Narrative.

"Unclassifiable" because it is part autobiography, part rebuttal of his critics, part explication of his approach to biography, part continuation of his monumental Melville biography.

More than that I hesitate to say—because I've only just started reading it, and because my ignorance in these matters is vast. For a real review, see this one by Carl Rollyson, himself an accomplished biographer. (You may need a Wall St. Journal account to load the review. I was able to view it once; no longer. If you have access to back issues, it's in the 3/29/2013 WSJ.) A slightly condensed version of Rollyson's review is here, about halfway down the page.

I can tell you that it is interesting reading. (Be sure to read the Notes in the back, too.) 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Gift idea?

The Moby Dick Card Game is another Kickstarter project. It was fully funded, and the first run has shipped. The artwork looks terrific, but the game is unavailable to the general public at present.
Even without a knowledge of the novel, playing the game will clue you into the relationships between key sailors and the various perils and processes of hunting whales in the 19th century.
As important as the visuals are, the game could not exist without Melville's voice. Every card features a choice quotation from the book, tying the action at hand to the grand tale itself.
Keep an eye on their Facebook page and their website—they promise a webstore soon.

Hat tip: Kiwi.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gift idea?

Emoji Dick is a crowd sourced and crowd funded translation of Herman Melville's Moby Dick into Japanese emoticons called emoji.

It's a free country. I can't help but agree with one commenter, "That's astoundingly useless."

Hat-tip to techie Megan.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Blessed by "Berkshares"

A news segment on PBS this evening talked about the "local currency," Berkshares, an alternative coin-of-the-realm for western Massachusetts.

Who is the "face" of Berskshares? None other than our man, H.M., pictured on the twenty next to a profile of Mt. Greylock.

Damned by dollars, blessed by Berkshares...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

One month to MDM18

The Moby-Dick Marathon page on the Whaling Museum's website has the details of MDM18.

Check this post from 2011 for the what/where/how of the MDM.

Mark your calendars and make arrangements. January 3rd is only one month away!