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Reading Groups

Reading Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick with Sheridan Hay (Online Only) — Sold Out

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Once a week Wednesdays, 6:00 pm EDT - 7:30 pm EDT November 3 to December 22, 2021

Online via Zoom

This reading group has reached its capacity. To join the waitlist, please email Allison Escoto at

For the tenth year, Sheridan Hay leads readers through the epic adventure of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. By dividing the narrative into manageable sections of fewer than a hundred pages each week, in close reading the book’s vastness expands in all directions. Moby-Dick is not only a novel about a quest, a voyage of the soul. It is not only a novel about the maniacal dictates of one man over a diverse crew of men from the world over. It is not only a novel about race, democracy, faith and the loss of faith. It is not only about America’s past, her corrupted present, or simply about the rapacious and willful destruction of nature by men. It is all these things and more.

Full of conflicting philosophies, Melville describes the invisible world hidden within the visible one. 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.” As current and pertinent as ever, Moby-Dick is a key to making sense of the past and even this particular present. Melville’s magnificent accomplishment must be met with the determination to see his quest through to the end. It is the voyage we’re all on. Join us. “I think ye do look brave.”

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, introduced by Andrew Delbanco.

Moby Dick

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    Sheridan Hay

    Sheridan Hay

    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, shortlisted for the Borders 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.