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Moby Dick – A Tribute to Jack Aranson

May 14, 2009

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Book cover of Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Book cover of Moby Dick by Herman Melville

I really hadn’t thought about Jack Aranson before, and didn’t really know he had done an abridged audio dramatization of Herman Melville‘s Moby Dick. I was looking at entries for Moby Dick on Amazon and found this wonderful gem for $.99 in Amazon’s MP3 Downloads and the actual CD for $14.99. You can find the link at MyPassionIsBooks Store under Some of my Favorites.

Jack Aranson was born on Christmas Eve 1924 and he passed away on January 2, 2008. I am saddened that I hadn’t known about this before he passed away.

Born in Los Angeles, California, he began his professional career in England by serving a two-year apprenticeship at the Old Vic theatre. He has since toured Ireland in many Shakespearean roles in a different play every night. Mr Aranson went to New York to play in King Lear with Orson Welles. He was director of Shakespeare at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He died in Sleepy Hollow, New York five days after his 83rd birthday.

I have always loved the book Moby Dick which I already own in paperback, and I have the Project Gutenberg text and ePub file of it as well – which are all wonderful of course – but this is an awesome dramatization by Jack Aranson and well worth a look.

If you enjoy Star Trek, you will likely remember Gene Roddenberry‘s Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan where the genetically-engineered tyrant Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalbán) – a character who first appeared in the 1967 Star Trek television series episode “Space Seed” – quoted Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, “To the last, I will grapple with thee… from Hell’s heart, I stab at thee! For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee!” It was not the first classic literature quote that Khan referred to and totally in keeping with his character. In “Space Seed” Khan referenced Milton‘s Paradise Lost when he asked Captain Kirk if he was familiar with Paradise Lost. Later, Scotty asked (on our behalf 😉 ), Captain, as a good Scotsman; I’m ashamed to admit that my knowledge of Milton is somewhat sketchy. What was Khan referring to?” To which, Captain Kirk responded, “Given a choice to return to Heaven under the rule of God, Lucifer replied ‘Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven‘.”

Below are a couple quotes about Jack Aranson’s dramatization of Moby Dick.

To devise a version of Moby-Dick as a one-man theatre piece comes under the heading of ‘They said it couldn’t be done.’ Jack Aranson has done it superbly.TIME magazine

As Ahab, Mr Aranson takes on stature. He reaches up to confront the stars. His chest expands. His voice is a trumpet, roaring over the sound of the sea. His eyes glitter with frenzy. It is a brilliant performance. – Elloit Norton, Boston Herald American

The MP3 Download of it as I say is currently $.99 (as of this date), and an 108MB download. I am not generally all that excited about abridged versions of the classics, but this was well worth checking out!


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