Hands up if you knew Herman Melville visited Liverpool? The man who gave the world the greatest American novel visited our city in 1837 to sketch out much of the flesh of his novel Redburn (especially the bits about the ‘coarse and brutal sailors in the seedier parts of Liverpool’ according to his biographer). It is, by all accounts, a rather self-pitying, semi-autobiographic tale of financial ruin, death and debauchery. Not a patch on his psychogeographic metaphysical masterpiece concerning a certain, elusive, white whale.

This May, Moby Dick on the Mersey is promising Liverpool’s first Moby Dick marathon: where the entire book will be read, cover to cover, by us (those of us who volunteer). Organiser Chris Routledge wants to celebrate the occasion by producing a limited Liverpool edition of the book, painstakingly annotated, and beautifully designed. Something for us all to dive into, and to cherish.

Here’s his story.

“Last summer I started planning the Moby Dick on the Mersey event at the Maritime Museum, and it was clear that there was very little money available either from the university (the event is being put on by the department of Continuing Education) or the museum. We decided to make sure the reading itself went ahead out of existing funds, but to add to it with side projects that would be self-funding, or simply not happen. The Moby-Dick book is one of these.

I first came across Margaret Guroff’s Power Moby-Dick site about four years ago and was immediately struck by how clear and well researched it was. I thought then that it would work well as a book, so when the opportunity came up, and Kickstarter was just setting up in the UK, I went for it.

The combination of the annotations by the side of the text, so as not to interrupt the flow, and a really well made, tactile book should make it a pleasure to read from.

We plan to launch the book on the marathon weekend, which gives a fairly tight schedule from a book production point of view.

I’m not sure what it is about the novel that makes people do these things, but I can say that of all the books I’ve read this is the only one that has inspired me to try anything like this. I suppose I should add “so far” since I plan to keep reading.”

We really want this to happen. And we commend it to you. There are only seven days left for Chris to reach his target, and it’s going to be a close run thing.

Make your donation right here.


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