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Berkshire County commemorating Moby Dick and author Herman Melville, one word at a time

Fans of the author Herman Melville gathered Friday and for the next few days to read every word of his 1851 novel "Moby-Dick; or, The Whale."

"Call me Ishmael."

Those first words of Melville's novel were read aloud Thursday inside a barn at Arrowhead, Herman Melville's home in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, now a museum, where he wrote most of the book.

Every word of the novel about Captain Ahab's revengeful hunt for a whale that had torn off his leg, with a diverse crew of sailors and harpooners, will be read aloud between now and Sunday.

But it might take until Monday, said Arrowhead education coordinator Jana Laiz.

"Everybody gets to read for fifteen minutes. After your fifteen minutes we ring a bell and the next person reads and we continue daily until we are done," she said

Some people read in-person. Others read via Zoom.

There are still slots open to sign upto read.

The readers take a break Saturday for a hike up Monument Mountain in Great Barrington. They'll commemorate a walk Melville took with author Nathaniel Hawthorne and others to celebrate Melville's 32nd birthday.

The New Bedford Whaling Museum also holds a read-a-thon of Moby Dick in early January.

Nancy Eve Cohen is a senior reporter focusing on Berkshire County. Earlier in her career she was NPR’s Midwest editor in Washington, D.C., managing editor of the Northeast Environmental Hub and recorded sound for TV networks on global assignments, including the war in Sarajevo and an interview with Fidel Castro.
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