Wednesdays, 6:00 pm-7:30 pm November 6 to December 11, 2019
This reading group has reached its capacity.
This year marks the bicentennial of the birth of Herman Melville, celebrated above all for his novel — one of the finest works of imagination in the history of literature – Moby Dick. What’s that? You never read it? You started it but didn’t finish? Moby Dick is the greatest novel still waiting to be read.
In the company of supportive companions, a crew of fellow readers, the book’s tremendous expansiveness opens out to become not only a novel about a quest, a voyage of the soul, although it is that. It becomes not only a novel about the maniacal dictates of one man over a diverse crew of men from the world over, although it is that too. Not only a novel about race, democracy, faith and the loss of faith: about America’s past and her corrupted present or about the rapacious and willful destruction of nature by men. Not only about the invisible world hidden within the visible one — although the novel contains all these things.
As Andrew Delbanco puts it in his introduction to a recent edition, Moby Dick “furnishes one dazzling solution after another to the persistent literary problem of conveying to an innocent reader the palpable reality of an unfamiliar world.” In our fraught present moment, Moby Dick remains as current and pertinent as ever. Besides, Melville turns two hundred! His great accomplishment must be met with the determination to see his quest through to the end. It is the voyage we’re all on. Sign up here. “I think ye do look brave.”
The group meets at 6:00 PM every Wednesday for six weeks. First class meets November 6 through to final meeting on December 11. For the first session please skip the Extracts and begin at Chapter One, Loomings (page 3) and read up to Chapter 20, All Astir (Page 104). Any edition will do but page numbers correspond to the Penguin Classics edition, introduction by Andrew Delbanco.
Sheridan Hay holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. Her first novel, The Secret of Lost Things (Doubleday/Anchor), which features a lost novel by Herman Melville, was a Booksense Pick, a Barnes and Noble Discover selection, short listed for the Border’s Original Voices Fiction Prize, and nominated for the International Impac Award. A San Francisco Chronicle bestseller and a New York Times Editor’s Choice, foreign rights have been sold in fourteen countries. Sheridan has led the Center’s Moby Dick reading group many times, as well as leading a popular Henry James group which will meet again in the spring.
By Herman Melville
Herman Melville’s masterpiece, one of the greatest works of imagination in literary history. Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read.
Over a century and a half after its publication, Moby Dick still stands as an indisputable literary classic. It is the story of an eerily compelling madman pursuing an unholy war against a creature as vast and dangerous and unknowable as the sea itself. But more than just a novel of adventure, more than an encyclopedia of whaling lore and legend, Moby Dick is a haunting, mesmerizing, and important social commentary populated with several of the most unforgettable and enduring characters in literature. Written with wonderfully redemptive humor, Moby Dick is a profound and timeless inquiry into character, faith, and the nature of perception.
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