Written by Dan Malone on Monday, September 17th, 2012

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville may be a literary classic, but at around 600 pages, rarely is it actually read. Now UK PM David Cameron, Tilda Swinton, Stephen Fry and Simon Callow – all fans of the book – are teaming up to record the book in its entirety.

The project is the baby of author Philip Hoare and artist Angela Cockayne. The readings will be broadcast online. The 135 chapters will take 135 days to finish.

David Cameron will be reading chapter 30, The Pipe. “The problem for any politician is the coded messages in Moby-Dick,” Hoare said. “It’s an incredibly political book, and there are entire chapters about the whale’s foreskin. The difficulty for No 10 was finding a chapter which was not fraught with messages. I wouldn’t say it’s an anodyne chapter. No chapter is anodyne, every chapter is freighted with meaning. But it’s fairly innocent.”

The idea of the project is to get more readers to try the book. “Moby-Dick is perhaps the most famous yet least-read of all American novels. For anyone who ever wanted to read it but was daunted by its length, we have the perfect solution: we’re reading for you,” Hoare said. “Everyone’s scared of a book that long, they’re scared of the length, they’re scared of the content. But when you read it you realise it’s incredible.”

The readings will be available for free starting September 16th.


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