"Moby Dick" will ride the waves of "Wescoe Beach" for 24 hours next week, when Kansas University students and faculty will stage a marathon reading of Herman Melville's classic American novel.
KU English professor Elizabeth Schultz organized the out-loud reading of "Moby Dick" as a way to mark the 100th anniversary of Melville's death.
Schultz figures the KU reading will take about 24 hours, although it can be done in less than a day. She got a 21-hour cassette of the unabridged version of the novel as a birthday gift.
Although she is well-versed in Melville's work, in which the central character, Captain Ahab, engages in an obsessive hunt for a great white whale named Moby Dick, Schultz said hearing someone else read the novel was like reading it for the first time.
SO SCHULTZ decided to bring "Moby Dick" to life on the concrete promenade outside of Wescoe Hall that is a popular gathering place for KU students, who refer to the area as "Wescoe Beach."
The marathon read will begin at 8 a.m. next Wednesday. Participants, including Lawrence residents, originally were scheduled to read in 30-minute intervals, but Schultz said Tuesday that she had signed up so many people that she might need to trim everyone's reading time.
Haskell Springer, a KU English professor on leave in Chicago, plans to return to campus to take part. A KU English department alumnus, Jim Bogan, now teaching at the University of Missouri-Rolla, hopes to return for the event and has asked to read at 3:30 a.m.
SCHULTZ HAS even invited the KU Sailing Club to park a fully rigged sailboat on the beach during the reading. She also plans to play tape recordings of humpbacked whale songs in the evening hours after classes have finished in Wescoe.
Schultz estimates the reading will take nearly 24 hours. She said the president of the Melville Society reported that it took 23 hours and 35 minutes to read the novel.
In addition, Richard Broadhead, Yale University visiting scholar, will speak on Melville at 7 p.m. April 25 in the Big 8 Room of the Kansas Union.