You Can Never Have too Many Books - posted yesterday about the online reading of Moby-Dick being sponsored by The Guardian newspaper. Over the course of the next few months, 135 different celebrity readers from the U.K. will read the entire book, one chapter per night, until it is all done. I've already made it through the first two chapters and can report that I am very impressed with the experience.
I call this a serendipitous event because just a few days ago I received in the mail the Library of America Melville volume that includes Moby-Dick - plus, I was already planning to read the novel before the end of the year because of a Moby-Dick-related book I received a while back from Oxford Press called Dive Deeper. That book, by George Cotkin, centers around a chapter-by-chapter look at Melville's most famous novel, offering insights into the author's thinking, the historical period, and the book's key plot points. In other words, it is an excellent companion piece to the novel, but as part of a three-way reading of the novel, it is already proving to be a step beyond "excellent."
I find reading along with the online-narrators and immediately reading the corresponding sections of Dive Deeper to be an effective way to enjoy the novel and, rather painlessly, ensure a deeper understanding of the work than I would have otherwise ever attained. Serendipity, indeed.
I encourage you to follow the link back to Susan's place and, from there, to the Guardian article to get all the detail about the project, how it came about, and who some of the readers will be. Those of you wanting to get a quick sample of what it all sounds like can jump from here to the Moby Dick Big Read site directly.
Two insights I gained from Dive Deeper: 1) Going to sea is Ishmael's antidote to the kind of depression that makes people suicidal, and 2) The preacher in the black church Ishmael accidentally enters in the heavy fog of the evening is perhaps patterned on Frederick Douglas who was in New Bedford at the same time Melville was there.