Tag Archives: Moby Dick

Should Moby-Dick Be Hyphenated?

Ahab reloaded
“When this interlude was over, Captain Mayhew began a dark story concerning Moby Dick; not, however, without frequent interruptions from Gabriel, whenever his name was mentioned, and the crazy sea that seemed leagued with him.”

Why do we occasionally see Moby Dick with a hyphen? Because that’s how the original title ran. Erin Blakemore of the Smithsonian calls it a Victorian convention, but that doesn’t satisfy many readers.

“Moby-Dick; Or, The Whale” was published in the United States on this day in 1851, having been previously released in the United Kingdom. It didn’t sell well compared to his other books, and critics took a dim view:

The idea of a connected and collected story has obviously visited and abandoned its writer again and again in the course of composition. The style of his tale is in places disfigured by mad (rather than bad) English; and its catastrophe is hastily, weakly, and obscurely managed.

Reading Moby Dick Aloud

More than hundred writers and artists read ten minutes each of Moby Dick last weekend at the Whitney Museum of American Art In New York. The marathon reading event started in 2012 as a biennial celebration, but the Whitney wanted to do again this year. Many participants had not read the novel completely beforehand, which one person said may be part of the appeal.

It sounds like fun and perhaps exhausting, but I doubt they have an edge on the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Moby-Dick Marathon, which “celebrated its fifteenth annual non-stop reading of Herman Melville’s literary masterpiece [in January 2011] with an expanded 3-day program.” Take a look at these photos.

Some read in Portuguese, Japanese, Italian, Danish, Spanish, Hebrew, Russian and/or French, followed by that same passage in English. One passage is read from Braille.  The Seamen’s Bethel hosts the singing of “The Ribs and Terrors in the Whale” and the reading of Father Mapple’s sermon. At the end, a few hardy souls will have stayed for the whole adventure.