Call me Ishmael. Or Tilda, or Benedict, or any number of other names, really, as Plymouth University has completed its “Moby-Dick Big Read,” an audiobook version of Herman Melville’s whale of a novel. All 135 chapters are read by a different voice, including Tilda Swinton, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Waters, Stephen Fry, Sir David Attenborough and David Cameron.
Launched in 2011, the project is based on the idea that “Moby-Dick” is not only “the great American novel” — it’s also “the great unread American novel.” Angela Cockayne and Philip Hoare describe the Big Read as “an online version of Melville’s magisterial tome: each of its 135 chapters read out aloud, by a mixture of the celebrated and the unknown, to be broadcast online in a sequence of 135 downloads, publicly and freely accessible.”
The book, which more than lives up to its prodigious reputation, has been adapted for film several times; most recently (and forgettably), it served as the inspiration for Ron Howard’s “In the Heart of the Sea.”