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.