Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Moby Dick Big-Read

Marcus Harvey: Albus, 2009
accompanying Ch. 1: "Loomings"
Moby Dick has been on my list of must-reads for such a long time, but with all the reading I do for my research, it has been relegated time and time again to the "maybe next summer..." stack. (Other unfortunate denizens of this stack include Anna Karenina and The Brothers Karimazov -- I'm such a terrible Russian student.)

But there is hope for Moby Dick yet-- Plymouth University has undertaken a project to record a reading of each of Moby Dick's 135 chapters. Arising out of the 2011 Peninsula Arts Whale Festival, the Moby Dick Big-Read Project has been created as a part of the Plymouth International Book Festival. Peter Donaldson introduces each chapter, which is read by one of an assortment of esteemed readers such as Tilda Swinton and accompanied by a beautiful piece of art. (And you can download the recording of each chapter for free each day!)

Listening to excellent readings of such a marvelous book has been a new experience for me. I love to read and consume books quite voraciously, but the spoken word has a quality quite unmatched by that of the written. I must confess I am generally a speed-reader and can fly through a good book in a matter of hours. Listening requires me to stop, be still, and savor the prose at hand. It's not a task suited to multi-tasking, and so far, it's been quite therapeutic. 

Thus I am greatly enjoying this creative reading collective. And if you so desire, you are welcome to partake in this listening experience with me. It seems suited to close with the description of the novel given by the creators of this project:
"Moby-Dick is the great American novel. But it is also the great unread American novel. Sprawling, magnificent, deliriously digressive, it stands over and above all other works of fiction, since it is barely a work of fiction itself. Rather, it is an explosive exposition of one man’s investigation into the world of the whale, and the way humans have related to it. Yet it is so much more than that. It is a representation of evil incarnate in an animal – and the utter perfidy of that notion. Of a nature transgressed and transgressive – and of one man’s demonic pursuit, a metaphorical crusade that even now is a shorthand for overweening ambition and delusion." 
Clara Drummond: Cape-Horner in a great hurricane, 2012
accompanying Ch. 2: "The Carpet-Bag"

And in case you would like a sneak peek, here's the first chapter "Loomings" read by Tilda Swinton:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thoughts are welcome!