The New Bedford Whaling Museum's Moby-Dick Marathon is an annual non-stop reading of Herman Melville's literary masterpiece. The multi-day program of entertaining activities and events is presented every January. Admission to the Marathon is free.

Friday, April 8, 2011

...when Leviathan is the text - 8

(8th in the search for the ideal edition for an MDM)

After a trip to a local library today, I have to warn fellow marathoners about two M-D editions that should be better than they are:
  • Barnes and Noble, copyright 1993; hardcover; "acid-free paper" declared on the copyright page.
  • Oxford University Press, copyright 1999; hardcover; in the "Oxford World's Classics" series.
Both of these were printed well after the 1988 Northwestern-Newberry edition, which corrected numerous errors, yet they present flawed, pre-NN versions. You might as well download a public-domain e-book version and take it to the copy shop. Are NN's licensing fees so onerous that publishers would rather proffer a flawed product? The Oxford edition even omitted the Epilogue (!)—it was listed in the Table of Contents, but the page was blank. How did that get out the door?

If you are considering either of these as your MDM tome, be aware that there are better editions out there. Heck, you could just order the Northwestern-Newberry from Amazon and be sure of having the "authorized" text (also available in paperback). You might also consider the Everyman's Library edition reviewed in tomorrow's post.

Here are some quick tests to check if you're looking at an edition that's sub-standard:
  • In Chapter 18, His Mark, flip to the little illustration "Quohog. his ✠ mark."
    Now look four paragraphs back. The text should read: "Quick, Bildad," said Peleg, to his partner..." (It should include the "to.")
  • In Chapter 125, The Log and Line, about a page from the end of the chapter, it should read: "Pip! Pip! Pip! One hundred pounds of clay! Reward for Pip..." (The punctuation after "clay" shows that "clay" refers to Pip; not, nonsensically, to the reward.)
Or you can just look for a mention of Northwestern-Newberry on the copyright page or in an On the Text section.

Of course, just as you wouldn't run a marathon in any shoe that fits, there are considerations beyond merely having the correct text. The search continues...

1 comment:

  1. I have long deplored the seeming lack of copy editing in publishing over at least the past 10 years. I can only surmise that poorly edited texts do not have enough of an impact on the publisher's bottom line. Is doing one's work well motivated solely by profit?