Non-stop Moby Dick a whale of a reading

An annual reading marathon of Herman Melville's classic tale Moby Dick went into its second day Thursday in New Bedford, Mass.

A reading marathon of Herman Melville's classic tale Moby Dick was into its second day Thursday in New Bedford, Mass.

The famous opening line, "Call me Ishmael," was uttered by Peter Whittemore, Melville's great-great-grandson, at noon on Wednesday.

About 150 readers were scheduled to take turns reading aloud from the tale of one man's obsession with a great white whale, in the annualevent at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

"It's always on the Jan. 3 and 4. It starts on the third to commemorating the anniversary of Herman Melville heading out from Fairhaven on the whaling ship, Acushnet," Eric Wagner, spokesman for the event, said in an interview with CBC Radio.

Melville, described on the Acushnet's manifest as "age 21, height 5 feet, 9½ inches, complexion dark, hair brown," cleared the port of New Bedford to cruise for whales in the Pacific in 1841.

His novel was published 10 years later, but was all but ignored until the 1930s.

It is now considered one of American literature's greatest adventure tales.

"Then along with those readers, there are also people that just come and sit in the audience and read along," Wagner said.

Listeners from across the U.S. and repeat visitors who can't resist another round of the adventure tale are in New Bedford for the reading.

One reader, Jenny Brower of Barrow, Alaska, translated two pages of the book into Inupiaq for the reading, as no version exists in the Inuit language of Alaska.

It's the 11th year for the marathon reading begun by a volunteer at the museum who thought the Eastern Seaboard's greatest literary legacy should be celebrated.

The Melville Society provided the fan base for the initial reading, but the event has built from there, Wagner said.

"It's an interesting way to immerse yourself in the story to hear it read aloud rather than have to read it in high school," he said.

The reading should end Thursday afternoon after lasting for about 25 hours.