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May 15, 2019 12:21 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

'Moby-Dick' Marathon Reading In Sag Harbor Celebrates Mellville's 200th Birthday

May 15, 2019 12:21 PM

Calling all Ishmaels! August 1 marks the 200th birthday of Herman Melville, the author who, in 1851, penned America’s greatest whaling novel, the classic “Moby-Dick.”

Sag Harbor, of course, was once a whaling town and is even mentioned in the pages of “Moby-Dick” with these words: “Arrived at last in old Sag Harbor; and seeing what the sailors did there; and then going on to Nantucket and seeing how they spent their wages in that place also, poor Queequeg gave it up for lost. Thought he, it’s a wicked world in all meridians; I’ll die a pagan.”

Like whaling, which was a tradition for generations in the village, Canio’s Books has also traditionally offered an annual “Moby-Dick” Marathon in which the full book is read aloud by volunteer readers at various locations over the course of several days. Pagan or not, all are invited to celebrate the bicentennial of Melville’s birth with the most ambitious “Moby-Dick” Marathon that Canio’s has ever hosted.

This year’s marathon runs from Friday, June 7, to Monday, June 9. Acclaimed actor Harris Yulin will bring Father Mapple’s sermon to life at the Old Whalers’ Church, along with a local choir to help sing the hymn, starting Friday at 3 p.m. Right afterward, Alec Baldwin will read from the book and later on Friday night, an acting troupe will perform the play in Chapter 40, “Midnight Forecastle.”

Let’s be honest, “Moby-Dick” is not an easy book to read, but the marathon creates a community to share its story and allows Melville’s words to come to life through different voices.

Prior to the reading, on Thursday, May 30, at 6:30 p.m., the John Jermain Memorial Library screens the 1956 film “Moby Dick” starring Gregory Peck. On Thursday, June 6, from 5 to 6:30 p.m., Canio’s Books hosts a pre-marathon reception for artist Robert Carioiscia, whose whaling prints are on view at the bookshop in homage to Sag Harbor and “Moby-Dick.”

“Moby-Dick” Marathon Reading Schedule

Friday, June 7

12:30 – 2:30 p.m. Canio’s Books, 290 Main Street

3 – 6:45 p.m. Old Whalers’ Church, 44 East Union Street

7 – 10 p.m. Canio’s Books

Saturday, June 8

10 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. Sag Harbor Whaling Museum, 200 Main Street

1 – 4:45 p.m. John Jermain Memorial Library, 201 Main Street

5 – 11 p.m. Canio’s Books

Sunday, June 9

10:30 – 12:45 p.m. Eastville Community & Historical Society, 139 Hampton Street

1 – 5 p.m. Canio’s Books with post-reading celebration

If you would like to read during the marathon, email caniosculturalcafe@gmail with MDM in the subject line and include the day and a 3-hour window of availability.

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