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, June 10, 2011

...when Leviathan is the text - 12

Pretty good, not bad, I can't complain... (12th in the search for the ideal edition for an MDM)

Here's a decent edition that's easily found from online booksellers for ten or twelve bucks—the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition, with a Foreword by National Book Award winner, Nathaniel Philbrick.

[Spoiler: If I didn't have something better waiting to be reviewed, I might end my search here.]

It's fairly stripped for marathoning, with the Northwestern-Newberry text, the aforementioned eight-page Foreword, and eight pages of maps and instructive diagrams; 673 pages in total. Fans of cartoonist, and native New Englander, Tony Millionaire will recognize his hand in the front and back cover illustrations.

It measures 5.5" x 8.375" x 1.75", and weighs 24.8 ounces. The cover is soft card stock (which, on the copy I borrowed, was in pretty sad shape after 18 months in the public library). The binding is glued, but seems flexible enough not to crack. The paper is light cream-colored; smooth, thick-ish, and flexible, with a cotton-like feel and very little show-through.  The pages are "trimmed," that is, not cut to have a clean outside edge. (See the bottom photo here.) Trimmed pages give the volume a sort of ridged outside edge. This has the annoying effect of making the book impossible to flip through smoothly.

There is no colophon or mention of acid-free paper. A note on the copyright page says simply, "Set in Janson." The type is slightly condensed with short-ish ascenders and descenders. The trimmed pages, paper stock, and type gave me a whiff of Grandfather's 50s-vintage budget edition. (See a sample in the Typeface Tally.)

Margins and gutters are acceptable. Chapters begin on a new page. There are chapter-title headings on the recto pages and chaper-number headings on the verso pages.

You can't go far wrong with this one, but for me, a reader who likes to riffle through a tome to search out a favorite passage, the trimmed edges are a deal-breaker.

Especially since I know what's coming...


  1. In the business, that's what's called a deckle edge. It's supposed to make books seem more olde fashioned and capital-L Literary.

  2. I find I like the deckle edge look but considering it's more important to me to Read my Literature (and as I get older I sometimes need to flip back to refresh my memory) I'm not a Fan.