“Moby-Dick is the great American novel. But it is also the great unread American novel. Sprawling, magnificent, deliriously digressive, it stands over and above all other works of fiction, since it is barely a work of fiction itself. Rather, it is an explosive exposition of one man’s investigation into the world of the whale, and the way humans have related to it. Yet it is so much more than that.”
That’s how Plymouth University introduces Herman Melville’s classic tale from 1851. And it’s what sets the stage for their web project launched earlier this week. It’s called The Moby Dick Big Read, and it features celebrities and lesser known figures reading all 135 chapters from Moby Dick — chapters that you can start downloading (as free audio files) on a rolling, daily basis. Find them on iTunes, Soundcloud, RSS Feed, or the Big Read web site itself.
The project started with the first chapters being read by Tilda Swinton (Chapter 1), Captain R.N. Hone (Chapter 2), Nigel Williams (Chapter 3), Caleb Crain (Chapter 4), Musa Okwonga (Chapter 5), and Mary Norris (Chapter 6). John Waters, Stephen Fry, Simon Callow and even Prime Minister David Cameron will read future chapters, which often find themselves accompanied by contemporary artwork inspired by the novel.
If you want to read the novel as you go along, find the text in our collection of Free eBooks. We also have versions read by one narrator in our Free Audio Books collection. Tilda Swinton’s narration of Chapter 1 appears right below: