Wednesday, December 12, 2012

1942 Dodd, Mead and Co, Ex Lib

This is a beat book. Ex Lib from the Philip Livingston Junior High School, Albany, New York. Some joker, penciled a "'s" after the title word Moby on the title page. It was last taken out of the library in April 1986 by a student named Jennifer. The first date due was October 3 1962. Sixteen different students names are on the card. All of those kids had a chance to hold this copy in their hand, look at the illustrations, and ponder at least for a moment the story. For sure few of them read the book in its entirety. But at least they gave it a try.

This is the #3 copy. The book has had a long useful life, with just some spilled ink on the outer pages. Now it is safe in the collection, a gift to the collection from JM, long time friend of the editor. JM bought it in a random yard sale this summer in Albany. 

Gifts take many forms, and have many uses but for the most part are given in gratitude, or affection, or guilt. 

Chapter LXXII - the Monkey Rope

When Stubb reappeared, he came with a dark flask in one hand, and a sort of tea-caddy in the other. The first contained strong spirits, and was handed to Queequeg; the second was Aunt Charity's gift, and that was freely given to the waves.

Aunt Charity's gift to the Pequod was given freely to the crew and freely it was given to the seas. Some gifts have no real value and serve no real purpose, only to be regifted at a later date or thrown out. 

JM's gift, regardless of the reason, will be preserved and cherished. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Undated Carlton House Moby-Dick

Recent purchase, this undated volume comes with a dandy slip cover, but its best feature is the leather cover. The case has saved the leather from the ravages of time.

On the inside cover is a book plate: John Henderson Talley   There are several John Henderson Talleys in the google search, but we choose this one. Its just a nature of the human race that we are all related eventually and so it is with this John Henderson Talley, as the editor traces his descent from Wolphert Gerretse Van Kouwenhoven as did JHT.

Chapter 35 The Mast-Head

Let me make a clean breast of it here, and frankly admit that I kept but sorry guard. With the problem of the universe revolving in me, how could I—being left completely to myself at such a thought-engendering altitude,—how could I but lightly hold my obligations to observe all whale-ships' standing orders, "Keep your weather eye open, and sing out every time.". 

Sometimes when we are confronted with the challenges of daily life, we lose sight of the bigger picture, and sometimes when we are focused on the bigger picture we lose sight of the daily challenges. Ishmel, to his credit admits that standing on the mast head contemplating the big cosmos, Karl Sagen style, he lost interest in scanning the horizon. We too, while contemplating the bigger picture of our interpersonal life  have seemingly lost sight of that life which is right in front of us. Time to put down the spy glass and to stop looking at the far off stars.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

1997 Konemann Classics Moby-Dick

Moby DickThe 1997 Konemann Classics Moby Dick features J M W Turner's The Whale Ship on the cover, and is ubiquitous in bookstores and on line. The paper, type, printing is just so classic and beautiful, with a subtle feel which all combine to make this a "proper book".

 Konemann is a publisher based in Cologne Germany. The book is printed in Hungary. An example of The European Union at its finest (how is that Euro doing guys?). We are unaware, at this time, of any other book in the collection printed abroad yet in the english language. This is something for further study.

Chapter XLV

Owen Chase: The dark ocean and swelling waters were nothing, the fears of being swallowed up by some dreadful tempest, or dashed upon hidden rocks, ... seemed scarcely entitled to a moment's though; the dismal looking wreck, and the horrid aspect and revenge of the whale, wholly engrossed my reflections....

Owen Chase recalls the wreck of the whale ship Essex, his ship, sunk by a whale, (a true story) and in doing so, he points out that it is not the phantoms of the mind, the possible out comes of future events that haunt him, it is the actions of the whale that stove his ship and left him adrift that horrifies and frightens him. 

Melville sets the stage for the ultimate destruction of Ahab and his ship by referencing in this chapter a well known event. Thus he adds strength to the notion that it is not words but actions, it is not the ghosts and goblins of our minds that frame life but actual happenings, real things. 

Real things like a live whale stoving in the side of a wooden ship causing complete wreckage.

We are all warned.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Ahab Beckons meets THDC

As mentioned in the  previous post, we meet Ahab Beckons during our stay at Arrowhead.  Kindly there is a nice recounting of the time spent on their blog. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012


June and July proved to be months of major events for the editor. My daughter married a wonderful man, Tom. Walking a daughter down the isle is a singular event in a man's life.

We moved our parents into assisted living, and began to care for them in a new way.

Hence the lack of posts.

Saturday, was an amazing day, first I traveled to Arrowhead and sat at Herman Melville's desk and created a small landscape. It is the view he had when he wrote Moby-Dick. I donated it to the Berkshire Historical Society. Then I spent an engaging hour with the dozen or so folks who came to see selections of the Collection.  I brought 20 of the foreign language editions and talked about the collection.

After that I whizzed off to Worcester to participate in my mother's 90th birthday party. Ironically and completely un expected for me, was that Arrowhead was almost right next to the Miss Halls School, where my mother spent her high school years. Having never seen it, I was glad at the happy coincidence.

The staff at Arrowhead is fantastic, and I got a chance to meet Ahab Beckons, our favorite MD blogger.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Day at Arrowhead - August 25, 2012

On August 25th The Moby Dick Collection will be going to Arrowhead for a day of display, discussion and art. I am deeply excited to have been asked to share the collection at Herman Melville's Arrowhead. Additionally, I am going to arrive early and create art! I will paint two small paintings that I will donate to the Museum. One would be a view of the landscape and if all goes well one interior painting.  This is a great honor for me and I am thrilled.

Mark your calendars and join me!


Sunday, June 3, 2012

1996 Quality Paperback Book Club MOBY-DICK

1996 Quality Paperback Book Club, Book of the Month Club, Inc. Printed in the United States of America.  This book is pristine, brand new, never read. Perhaps this book was printed at the beginning of the end of the Printing Age. 1996 marks the beginning of the internet boom.

William Ewart Gladstone, Prime Minister of Great Britain during the last half of the nineteenth century, was a Homer scholar. It was he that first noted that the color blue never appears in Homer's works. He speculated that Homer was color blind.

Using Gladstone's logic we wanted to note if Melville was color blind.  We searched the text and found the following: Yellow is mentioned 21 times, Red is mentioned 38 times, Blue is mentioned 46 times, Black is mentioned 82 times and White is mentioned 208 times. But none of the uses of blue are anything but references to the color and not the meaning: melancholy.

Chapter 135 The Chase 3rd Day

...all the past is somehow grown dim. Mary, girl! thou fadest in pale glories behind me; boy! I seem to see but thy eyes grown wondrous blue. 

Melville, it can be assumed was not color blind by his accurate uses of the words. Homer, however, it is agreed uses color in an odd way. The explanation is not that Homer was color blind but that man has become gradually aware of the colors around over time. And why not? In our own short lives we too become aware of the things in front of us as time goes by. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

1966 The World's Classics #225 Moby Dick

This book was a gift to the collection, and will remain one of the treasures of the library. 
Thoughtfully tucked in the back is the bill of sale. The book is diminutive, dust jacketed yet damaged. 

At some point in the years it was subjected to a bit of mold. There is remnants of disease on the boards.  We will never know how or when the injury occurred, and to the casual observer the book looks whole and proper. But there is always going to be a bit of hesitation when others come in contact with this book. Questions will always be raised. This edition may never be able to take a solid spot in the row of other Moby-Dicks, its neighbors will try to scoot away, gain some distance, perhaps looking for the antibacterial hand soap if they accidentally touch.
Sadly, because of this underlying damage, this book will always be a bit out of place. It will have a difficult time of fitting in, but since it is aware, it will grow old with a grace few "normal" books have. 

Chapter LX Queequeg in His Coffin

... if a man made up his mind to live, mere sickness could not kill him: nothing but a whale, or a gale, or some violent, ungovernable, unintelligent destroyer of that sort.

Imagine the destroyer of sort that tried to take this book out... perhaps it was a backed up sewer drain that over flowed its vent, or a flat roof that rain made its way threw, or some other damp invader of the home.  In fact this book had made up its mind to live long before that happened, live so that someone could give it as a gift to someone else. That damp invader was not destroyer enough to kill this book. 

Now imagine that same destroyer aiming at our IPAD... We are fairly of the opinion that the IPAD will just roll over, whimper, and exhale some foul smelling vapors... and be done with it.  Never to be aware of its own "humanity" never to grow old with grace, never to be such a thoughtfully provoking, and wonderfully cherished gift as this edition. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

1991 Everyman's Library Alfred A. Knopf MOBY DICK

The nicest things can come in plain packages. Things with little embellishments, little fan fare, modest statements. This edition is such a thing. The red cloth binding, with a small hint of gold and elegant typeset on the cover, is understated. The overall impression is one of quiet reserve, grace and charm.

Individual people, too, can be unassuming and full of quiet reserve, grace and charm. The best ones become friends and most often are those who don't even know their true nature and strength. 
  • Chapter 86 The Tail  ....Real strength never impairs beauty or harmony, but it often bestows it; and in everything imposingly beautiful, strength has much to do with the magic.

Alas, we own an Ipad, it has proven very useful, for watching movies, for writing and reading emails, for surfing the web. We downloaded on to the Ipad both Beethoven's 1st symphony and the Missa Solemnis, which are imposingly beautiful but sound less so on the tiny speakers. This ipad will never be beautiful and no doubt it will be recycled soon. Reading a novel on it may prove rewarding, but never long lasting.

This volume is imposingly beautiful and hence is endowed with real strength and thus the magic of Melville's words radiate from the page. And this volume is long lasting. As long lasting as ours and Beethoven's Unsterbliche Geliebte.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

2007 Longman Critical Edition MOBY DICK

The MDC has received over the last few months a bevy of new editions, and hence we are a bit behind.

This is the fascinating Longman Critical Edition. Fascinating in that the editors have pieced together a treasure trove.  We hate to use trite sayings like treasure trove, but really this is a fun book.  The text as Melville saw in print in 1851 and on page displays of the revisions made over the years. And Explanatory Notes in the aft add beef to an already beefy product.

The cover art by Geoge Klauba is nothing short of wicked awesome. No, it is wicked awesome, in a Norman Rockwellien style Ahab's boat is screaming heavenly, a jumble of arms and legs with peg leg himself (right legged) leading the way. 

Chapter 53 The Gam

A social meeting of two (or more) Whale-ships, generally on a cruising ground, when, after exchanging hails, they exchange visits by boat's crews

Last week was a big week here at TMDC, it was BP's birthday and as such he held a GAM. Everyone was there: Starbuck, Subb, Flask, Pip, yes the harpooners, and all the rest of the crew.

Is BP Ahab? We are not too sure, we suspect so, but we know who all the other players are, and they may or may not know the roles that have been assigned to them...

MOBY DICK is too much fun!

Monday, April 9, 2012

This Summer at Arrowhead

The Moby Dick Collection has been invited to participate in this summer's special event at Arrowhead, H. Melville's Pittsfield home. The Title of Arrowhead's program is "The Power of Genius: Landscape and Inspiration" The theme is to highlight Melville's inspiration for writing from the landscape around him and is part of the City of Pittsfield's Office of Cultural Development outdoor art extravaganza "Call Me Melville".

I will be bringing part of the collection for display and giving a talk on it, but excitingly as well, I have been asked to execute a painting on the grounds.  Landscape painting is my passion. How cool is this? Awesome right? and since its Massachusetts: "Wicked awesome".

I take inspiration from the landscape around my home in Albany New York, and from the Hudson River School. The above painting is an example of my work. So I could not think of any better way to spend a weekend this summer, except perhaps at daughter Sarah's wedding in June. Yep, look for another wedding speech coming up.....

The dates and times and logistics are still being worked out, but I am thrilled and humbled at the invitation and have accepted gladly.

Friday, March 23, 2012

1928 Pickwick Publishers Romances of Herman Melville

The Moby Dick Collection was conceived to contain only editions of the novel, not abridged, not children's, and not compliations of Melville's works. That said here is just such a compilation. TMDC is meant to be a conundrum. A collection of contradictions.

It struck us as odd: The Romances of Herman Melville.  At first one might suspect that this volumn is the story of the daliances of Mr. Melville's amorous side but actually this book are his adventure stories, sagas of journeys, sea stories, not the fluff of love: flowers and chocolates, hearts and arrows. Yet as we thought more about that title we asked ourselves: what is love but if not an adventure, what is romance then but the love of life and its journey, long or short, often altruistic and in the company of someone we would be honored to spend time with. So we bought the book.

Seven Melville works from Typee to Redburn, each in its entirety. And of course Moby-Dick. Each a memory of an adventure, a journey worth living thru the reading.

And what a treasure this book is: seriously heavy, thick, soft leather covers, golden edged paper, and luscious illustrations. The book itself is a metaphor for romance: serious, heavy, thick, soft, golden and luscious. How many romances have we had? Seven? Eight? Each one an adventure, each one worth the memories.

Chapter 125

... man, though idiotic, and knowing not what he does, yet full of the sweet things of love and gratitude.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

1969 Dell Publishing Moby Dick

We get very excited when we come upon a used book that is inscribed with the owners name and is underlined. Here is proof of someone's journey with Melville hand in hand. Alas we only see a last name on the inside cover: Highomirk. Perhaps.. a bit illegible. There are pencil underlinings and pen underlining from the first page on, as our intrepid reader moves thru the story. Even there are random notes in the margin, ie "white - all color, no color". And then there it is on page 360 of the 608 pages, a line noting a conversation between Stubb and Flask, it being the last marginality. Here is the point our reader stopped. 

On the Epilogue page is a small blue pen circle about 1/8 of an inch filled in. A doodle not doubt created as he read the page just to get the gist of what he missed in between, a short cut for sure. Could he have been satisfied with that effort?

Chapter CXXXV The Chase Third Day

Oh! my God! what is this that shoots through me, and leaves me so deadly calm, yet expectant, - fixed at the top of a shudder! Future things swim before me, as in empty outlines and skeletons; all the past is somehow grown dim.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

1931 Bonibooks Paper Back Moby-Dick

The earliest paper back in the collection, the 1931Albert and Charles Boni printing, is hard to find in any condition and commands a premium. It is lavishly illustrated with woodcuts by Howard Simon.  This copy is inscribed by Marianne Morrill.
Chapter LXXXI

Stubb speaks:

 "We all know what an astonishing atmospheric weight we ourselves stand up under; even here, above-ground, in the air; how vast, then, the burden of a whale, bearing on his back a column of two hundred fathoms of ocean! It must at least equal the weight of fifty atmospheres. "

The weight of the column of water on a whale's back is huge, but for the whale it is nothing. It is a trick, however, since the pressures are offset by natural mechanics. Something we humans all do naturally as well. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

2011 Harper Perennial Classics MOBY-DICK

The 2011 Harper Perennial, worn and read, good for the first owner, name lost, purchased by the Collection from the GOODWILL of Middle Tennessee, landlocked for sure, yet whomever had use of the book, travelled the world thru Melville's pages.

Chapter 99

Stubb soliloquized the signs of the zodiac from Bowditch, the well known and well used almanac we all carried on board our Pequods, small and large:

Virgo, the Virgin! that's our first love; we marry and think to be happy for aye, when pop comes Libra, or the Scales - happiness weighed and found wanting; and while we are very sad about that, Lord! how we suddenly jump, as Scorpio, or the Scorpion, stings us in the rear...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

1937 Garden City Publishing Co. Moby-Dick

Rockwell Kent is by far the best known of the Moby-Dick illustrators, and there are multiple editions that feature his remarkable work.  The Garden City deluxe edition has eluded us for many years. So happy we are to have recently scored this copy. 

Chapter 49

Ishmael, and the rest of the crew have topped off their last wills and testaments, and are preparing for the future:

Now then, thought I, unconsciously rolling up the sleeves of my frock, here goes for a cool, collected dive at death and destruction, and the devil fetch the hindmost.

The future can no longer wait, its time to move on to things put off too long.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

1962 Romanian Language Moby-Dick

Numiti-ma Ishmael

Recently added to the Collection is this 1961 Romanian edition. Translated by Serban Andronescu, with piece of doubtful cover art. Moby-Dick was never a baleen whale. 

There is a copyright on the inside title J. M. Dent, 1939, London which indicates the source.

A small piece of the title page has been carefully cut out. Since Romania was, during the 60's and thru the revolution of 1989, somewhat of a police state, one can imagine all sorts of reasons why someone who put their name in a book, would suddenly not want their name in any book.

Chapter 51 

Close to our bows, strange forms in the water darted hither and thither before us, while thick in our rear flew the inscrutable sea-ravens. 

In 1965, when the pages of this book were still white not the decaying brown the cheap paper is now, the Editor sailed from Charleston SC to the Bahamas, on board TABOR BOY ( , the 110 foot schooner of the school of the same name. Along with 30 other preps, we each had to take our turn at the watch, and the midnight dog watch was our favorite. How clear we remember the night a solitary form swam deliberately past our bows, outlined only by the phosperesance trail, huge, strange, unknown, perhaps a whale, perhaps a shark of enormous size.  The Spirit Sprout 

Friday, January 6, 2012

1981 University of California Press - Arion Press Moby Dick


Much sought after, the Arion Press Moby Dick, illustrated by Barry Mosher, is a treat. The type face is big and juicy and easy to read, the size of the book is solid, befitting a novel of such weight, and the illustrations are delicate and accessible. 

There are four copies in the collection, a 1981 hardcover, and three soft cover, one unread (6th printing, courtesy of Tim, a fan of this blog), one read (2nd reprinting), and the small sized one, (1st 1983 printing), which we use as a reading copy.

Chapter 87

... under the influence of that strange perplexity of inert irresolution...

Melville has a way of seeing a precise moment of time.

Sitting in amongst the giant pod of whales, which had ceased its commotion, all waited for the next move.  Here is a silent stillness as whales and men pause.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Book Club January 2, 2012 | by Jason Diamond (via)

"Walter Benjamin wrote that in an era when everything was reproduced, nothing had the aura of originality. Now, most men’s clothing is made en masse—and we find ourselves missing the hand stitched. Likewise, many of our libraries consist only of e-books—and our old paperbacks seem to posses a one-of-a kind personality." 

The Book Club January 2, 2012 | by Jason Diamond  suggested by LG