Every so often, when the interval between meetings will be longer than usual or when a consensus choice for next month doesn’t emerge or when, perhaps, we just feel a bit bolder one of my book group will look around and say, “what’s on your ‘to be read’ stack?” It’s an opportunity to pull out that giant Victorian novel (The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope) or serious social novel (The Street by Ann Petry) or unaccountably missed classic (Don Quixote by Cervantes).
One member asked if we were willing to read Moby Dick with her. Another said she’d never read it either. I admitted to reading it only a few years ago but had loved it and was eager to read it again. The others had all read it a long time past and were ready to revisit. So Moby Dick it is.
A great book doesn’t require embellishment, of course, but often inspires it. I had been lucky years ago to find a copy of the beautiful Random House edition (from the Lakeside Press edition of 1000) illustrated by Rockwell Kent. It was an extraordinary reading experience.
Curious about other fine editions, I learned of a 1979 printing by Arion Press with illustrations by Barry Moser. I may never see one of the 265 original copies of that hand press edition, but The University of California offers a handsome trade edition.
Andrew Hoyem, the publisher of Arion Press, on the opening page: “The wave of the ‘C’ of “Call me Ishmael” almost jumps out of the book like a Hiroshiga wave.”
Time to dive in…