Wednesday, July 24, 2013

2009 Japanese Language Edition, Moby-Dick

Moby-DickPurchased in 2009, During a visit to NYC.

In 1987, working for a multi-national corporation, the editor was due to make a swing thru the far east on a business trip. The trip was aimed at finding suppliers of the product we were selling here in the US. That trip was to start in Taipai and continue to Hong Kong and end in Toyko.

In his mid 30's, he was in the the midst of prolonged funk, asking existential questions and coming up with little to show.  It made sense to turn back and to reexamine things from the past and he choose to reexamine the books from boarding school that he was supposed to read and never did.

As the cab for the airport pulled up to the house he just grabbed his high school copy of Moby-Dick.

he read it on the flight over...

Thus started this obsession.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

1982 Hebrew Language Moby-Dick

For many years we have had our eye on this volume or desired one like it. Finally we were able to purchase this exact edition. Excited, it arrived having been sent to us all the way from Tel Aviv.

Translating Moby-Dick into Hebrew seems a bit conflicted, in a way it is like an Italian baseball team, on the surface kind of reasonable but there is a bit of doubt.

It is a doubt of vocabulary. Hebrew is an ancient, beautiful language but indecipherable to us. The question is: does the Hebrew language have the words to flesh out the whaling flavor or the New England flavor or the flavor of the 1850's jargon? Can any foriegn translation convey the Melvilleness of the original English text? Just as we question a Chinese translation as to how well it stands up, we would question a Hebrew translation. But actually, we do not care. The proper printing of the book is admirable, back to front, right to left, and we place it right next to the prized Japanese volume on the shelf. Perhaps the translation inside is solid and well developed by the translator, but since we can not read a word of Hebrew, in fact it is a complete mystery, we do not care one wit if the translation is whacked, it is awesomely dope to finally have experienced this book and the unique aspects of a Hebrew book insure that this volume too will be a prized addition to the collection. 

Chapter IX The Sermon
Father Mapple quoting Jonah:  ""I am a Hebrew," he cries - and then - "I fear the Lord the God of Heaven who hath made the sea and the dry land!""

We admit that we are judging a book by its cover; we will take it on faith that what lays deep inside is as solid as the externals. Many of the English volumes in the collection are totally beat either in design or condition, but still the internals remain the same: Melville's genius. In the vast ocean of printed material the rarest are the volumes that the internals and externals are harmonious, balanced, grounded, such as the ones that are both beat outside and beat inside by loving use (ex lib or the vastly underlined ones used in American Lit classes), or the ones that are beautiful on the inside and beautiful outside, the work of master craftsmen and craftswomen in the art room and on the press (Lakeside, Arion). The pursuit of a balanced volume is our quest.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

2012 Penguin English Library Moby-Dick

We ordered this book directly from the UK, from West Sussex to be exact, because, well, to be honest, we love love love the cover.  Its become increasing apparent by comments and traffic to this blog, that, for those who don't care so much for the text, the covers are their jam. 

We have no real desire to touch this book, the cover being so crisp and the binding fresh. But to read a few facts about the publication we had to peek inside. Gingerly, we opened it to ascertain the publication date, peeking in between the pages we were not too surprised to see printed on the bottom of the reverse of the title page that Penguin is committed to a sustainable future for their business, their readers and "our" planet. Phew, that means that no polar bears were harmed in the production of the series. Good for them. And we certainly hope they mean that, but not too strongly, because if you take that position to the extreme, it may make sense, to save the planet, to stop printing books and only provide e books, and that makes us uneasy, queasy really, a bit of spit up just came to our mouths.

Chapter LXXIX  The Praire

Has the Sperm Whale ever written a book, spoken a speech? No, his great genius is declared in his doing nothing particular to prove it. 

So Melville ascertains that the genius of the Sperm Whale is that he needs to do nothing to prove it. "do nothing to prove it."  Just because something can be done, accomplished, manufactured, engineered, or coded; just because some genes can be spliced, some car made with ridiculous amounts of batteries, or books can be published on tablets, that does not in and of itself mean it is genius. Penguin is right to worry about the planet, but we should worry about each other as well.  We don't need to prove to each other how genius we are.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

1987 MOBY DICK Russian Language

One cold day in the fall, the editor came home from teaching at the local college at which he has a minor teaching gig, to discover in the mail box a package, wrapped and stamped and traveled from RUSSIA.

He was perplexed but assumed that it was just another EBAY purchase that he had lost track of.
Upon, opening however, there was such an intriguing card. "Dear Mr. Pettit, Im a big fan of Moby Dick.... I would like to share this book with you"  - Katya

We were intrigued and after some time searching and emailing we met, on line, Katya and thanked her for this lovely gift to the collection.

In the course of corresponding to Katya, we learned that she is a graphic designer, loves the illustrations, and is fascinated by the story. She came into possession of this book, and as its a duplicate of one she already had, her friend suggested that she send it to us. We are so thrilled and honored of that jesture.

Visit her blog post here.

Chapter XLV The Affidavit
The ship, however, was by no means a large one: a Russian craft built on the Siberian coast, and purchased by my uncle after bartering away the vessel in which he sailed from home.

This is a rare and wonderful gift.

Monday, February 4, 2013

1977 Easton Press Moby-Dick

 One of the most common editions available is the Easton Press. A search of Ebay found no less than 100 active listings ranging from $10 to $50 or so. This copy is near perfect having never been opened. This craftsmanship is wonderful. Illustrations by Robinson Boardman. The paper fine, gold edged, type large and easy to read. 
This is a fine book to have on the side table.

Our love of this work stems not just from the many finely made editions, but also from the text itself. Every page has something worth mulling over.  

Chapter III   The Spouter Inn

On one side hung a very large oil-painting so thoroughly besmoked, and every way defaced, that in the unequal cross-lights by which you viewed it, it was only by diligent study and a series of systematic visits to it, and careful inquiry of the neighbors, that you could any way arrive at an understanding of its purpose. such unaccountable masses of shades and shadows, that at first you almost thought some ambitious young artist, in the time of the New England hags, had endeavored to delineate chaos bewitched. ...[but] The picture represents a Cape-Horner in a great hurricane; the half-foundered ship weltering there with its three dismantled masts alone visible; and an exasperated whale, purposing to spring clean over the craft, is in the enormous act of impaling himself upon the three mast-heads.

Here in the first pages of the book, Melville foreshadows the action to come in the subject of a old dark painting on the wall of the Inn. Whale versus ship, with the ship on the losing end. 

NB: "in the time of the New England hags"  LOL - ed. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Cozy Classics - Moby Dick

Many people have sent us gifts of Moby-Dick. All of them are treasured, and will be treasured for ever. The editor is so happy to announce that  his daughter is expecting her first and the editor's first grand child. As so, this gift from a wonderful neighbor here in the center of the Capital City of the Empire State, comes so timely into our possession. Its the perfect gift, and we can not wait to read Melvilles classic to our grandson once we get to hold him in our arms!
The Cozy Classic is PERFECT, here we quote the entire text of this ultra abridged edition:

Boat - captain - leg - mad - sail  - find - whale - chase - smash - sink - float 

Each page is a word and the next is an image in felt.  What could be more perfect?  A MOBY DICK marathon would take just minutes....

Chapter XIV Nantucket

Look now at the wondrous traditional story of how this island was settled by the red-men. Thus goes the legend. In olden times an eagle swooped down upon the New England coast, and carried off an infant Indian in his talons. With loud lament the parents saw their child borne out of sight over the wide waters. They resolved to follow in the same direction. Setting out in their canoes, after a perilous passage they discovered the island, and there they found an empty ivory casket, - the poor little Indian's skeleton.

Children bring hope for the future. No matter what or how, children enliven us, enrich us, love us.