Saturday, March 12, 2011

Some thoughts upon the display set up

Saturday, we spent the most part of the late morning making labels and getting the books ready for the installation of the exhibit at the Main University of Albany Library front lobby. (3/14 - 4/24/2011)

There will be one case with some examples of foreign language editions, and one case of the examples of the illustrations of Ahab.

What became clear to me, as I pulled these items all together, was that this exhibit is not so much about the novel, Moby-Dick, but more its about the printing and the presentation of the text. The exhibit shows different languages and various layouts of the text, and the wide variety of the styles of the illustrations. Each edition has a unique soul, and no electronic book will ever have the soul of even one of these books. As I felt the letterpress type of the Lituanian book and the subtle pages of the Japanese book, I felt the heart and soul of the press operator, bindery person, layout artist, and illustrator; I imagined the thousands and thousands of individuals involved in printing these books over the decades. All of their combined work, the hundreds of thousands of man hours, was the result of Melville's two years of dedicated writing, and we can't lose sight of the fact that he wrote the novel in long hand in ink. As I stepped back to look at the sight of the books, I was awed by the entire human effort that has gone into presenting to the world, the story that is the novel Moby-Dick.


  1. Thanks for mounting this exhibit. I was especially taken with Professor MacHugh's "work copy" with his notes in the margins. Together with the First Day Cover of the Melville envelope, you could see that he loved this book.

  2. Thanks for going to the exhibit, Gansevoort! Prof. Mchugh's book is one of my real favorites.. .. The First Day Cover was in the book, like a bookmark when I obtained it. What is nice for me to contemplate is that this copy will remain in the collection and not be trashed... Someday I will have found a permenant place for these books and future generations can appreciate them as a collection....