- Chapter 107
I'm looking forward to Bill Petit's talk at Arrowhead this weekend (details in this post). He is the keeper of The Moby Dick Collection, an ever-growing stockpile of hard-copy editions of our cherished text.
Highlights of the collection are posted on his blog — old and new, hardcover and paperback, English and "non" (Estonian anyone?).
He muses over the various illustrations of Ahab (right-pegged or left?).
He is especially fond of copies that indicate the reader's relationship with the book. Why did Judith Spiegler cease her underlinings on page 240? How did tenth-grader Douglas Rogers feel about receiving M-D as a mathematics prize (circa 1949)? Did young Vermonter "Pete H." ever finish the novel, after repeated renewals from the Flynn School library? What's with the teeth marks on this 1942 Dodd, Mead & Co.?
I suspect that most of us Melvillians have our own, smaller, "Moby-Dick Collections" — editions we've adopted out of a sense of pity, or lust.
Of what use is such a "collection" of apparent duplicates? One benefit was driven home after the Scholar Chats at MDM16 [long-story alert]...
Professor Mary K. Bercaw Edwards (U. Conn.) had asked the group if we ever wondered why there were so many duplicates in M-D: two departure ports (New Bedford and Nantucket), two inns, two innkeepers, two would-be mentors (Bulkington and Queequeg) , two (or three) captains (Bildad, Peleg, Ahab) ...and why does Bulkington disappear after the first hundred-or-so pages?
Northwestern University professor Harrison Hayford, she said, had written a paper explaining why.
Norton Critical Edition, 2nd Edition. Hey, I have a copy of that! Picked it up for 50¢ at a library book sale, mostly for the rigging diagrams.
Those "duplicate" M-Ds are anything but unnecessary.
BTW, Hayford's Unnecessary Duplicates is fascinating. He deduces Melville's process of composition from the appearance of "duplicates" and details of word choice.