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.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

...when Leviathan is the text - 9

A Moby-Dick for Everyperson... (9th in the search for the ideal edition for an MDM)

Just when I had given up on finding an affordable, hardcover, "Northwestern-Newberry compliant" edition of M-D, I get my hands on the Everyman's Library edition. If you are reasonably keen (young) of eye, and have about $20 in your MDM budget, this could be your "one."

It has all the requisites: table of contents, Etymology, Extracts, Melville's footnotes and inscription to Hawthorne. For ease of reading, every chapter starts on a new page. It even has those handy chapter-title headings on the recto pages.

At about 594 pages, there are no illustrations. The only extranea are a 14-page Introduction by Professor Larzer Ziff, a one-page Bibliography, a six-page Chronology, and six pages of Titles in Everyman's Library.

As stated on its copyright page, it presents the 1988 Northwestern-Newberry text (generally accepted as our best, "corrected" version).

It has a first-rate sewn binding. (Noted on the copyright page: "Printed and bound in Germany," like my abandoned sweeheart, K├Ânemann.) The nearly-20-year-old library copy I examined has held up fine, bindingwise-speaking. It even has a silk-ribbon bookmark.

Physically, it measures 5" x 8.25" x 1.25", and weighs in at an easily handled 23.1 ounces.  The boards have a slight flex, the text is "set in the classic typeface Bembo and printed on acid-free, cream-wove paper." The paper is on the thick side, with a nice, smooth feel; not polished or glossy. "Show-through" is moderate.

The layout feels rather "tall-and-narrow," not that there's anything wrong with that—it might make it a bit easier to avoid skipping lines. Margins and gutters are not generous, but certainly not problematic.

So what's the "but"? Well, for most, younger readers there really isn't one. AARP candidates like me might find the font a bit small and the line-spacing a bit tight. (See the Typeface Tally post.)

Get thee to a (real) bookstore and take this one for a test-read.

Or wait for the coming reviews of other editions. There's still plenty of time to prepare for January's festivities.

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