Wednesday, February 20, 2008

then be called ten times a donkey, and a mule, and an ass, and begone, or i’ll clear the world of thee!

classic books (number 4):

moby-dick; or, the whale by herman melville, 1851
(compiled with great assistance from the famed german librarian, herr t light)

such dreary streets! blocks of blackness, not houses, on either hand, and here and there a candle, like a candle moving about in a tomb. at this hour of the night, of the last day of the week, that quarter of the town proved all but deserted. but presently i came to a smoky light proceeding from a low, wide building, the door of which stood invitingly open. it had a careless look, as if it were meant for the uses of the public; so, entering, the first thing i did was to stumble over an ash-box in the porch. ha! thought i, ha, as the flying particles almost choked me, are these ashes from that destroyed city, gomorrah? but "the crossed harpoons," and "the sword-fish?" - this, then, must needs be the sign of "the trap". however, i picked myself up and hearing a loud voice within, pushed on and opened a second, interior door.

suddenly the waters around them slowly swelled in broad circles; then quickly upheaved, as if sideways sliding from a submerged berg of ice, swiftly rising to the surface. a low rumbling sound was heard; a subterraneous hum; and then all held their breaths; as bedraggled with trailing ropes, and harpoons, and lances, a vast form shot lengthwise, but obliquely from the sea. shrouded in a thin drooping veil of mist, it hovered for a moment in the rainbowed air; and then fell swamping back into the deep. crushed thirty feet upwards, the waters flashed for an instant like heaps of fountains, then brokenly sank in a shower of flakes, leaving the circling surface creamed like new milk round the marble trunk of the whale.

editions of note (with publisher and date):
-the whale, richard bentley 1851 (london, expurgated edition)
-moby-dick; or, the whale, harper and brothers 1851 (new york city)
-moby-dick; or, the whale, l.c. page & company publishers 1892
-moby-dick; or, the whale, lakeside press 1930 (three large volumes, with illustrations by rockwell kent)
-moby-dick; or, the whale, random house 1930 (illustrations by rockwell kent)
-moby-dick; or, the whale, norton critical edition 1967 (second edition 2001)
-moby-dick; or, the whale, arion press edition 1979 (illustrated by barry moser) reprinted by the university of california press 1981
-redburn, white-jacket, moby-dick, library of america 1983
-moby dick, or the whale: volume 6, scholarly edition, northwestern university press 1988
-unpainted to the last: moby-dick and twentieth-century american art by elizabeth a. schultz, university press of kansas 1995 (see images below)

barry moser

rockwell kent: whale beneath the sea

rockwell kent: moby dick trancendent

rockwell kent: moby dick the ungraspable squid

rockwell kent: moby dick rises

raymond bishop: ahab

gilbert wilson: moby dick arises from the deep

paul jenkins: homage a melville

robert motherwell: the tomb of captain ahab

sam francis: the whiteness of the whale

charles olson's melville project *:

notecards from charles olson's 1930's master’s thesis, the growth of herman melville, prose writer and poetic thinker, completed in 1933. these cards mainly dealt with melville's reading and marginalia and the "lost five hundred" (melville's books sold to a brooklyn dealer in 1892 by his widow, pursued by olson).
"as a young scholar, olson was indefatigable in his research; when he located a volume from melville's library in a grand-daughter's home, in a private collector's hands, or on a public library's shelves, olson carefully transcribed onto 5 x 7-inch note cards complete bibliographic information on the volume, as well as the content and location of melville’s annotations and reading marks".
these cards ended up being severely water damaged, but were preserved by the university of connecticut.
(more information found here)

-covers for rockwell kent editions **
-rockwell kent info **
-plattsburgh state art museum rockwell kent gallery **
-charles olson **
-publishing history **
-library of america **
-arion press **
-washington state university selected bibliography **
-first edition info **
-facsimile dust jackets **
-collecting melville **
-princeton moby-dick word search **


Zac said...

hullo again,

is that raymond bishop a woodcut?



Anonymous said...

I think I read the edition with the Barry Moser illustrations when I was young. The images made a strong impression on me at the time.

sroden said...

the olsen note cards are amazing!!!!!!!!!! thanks for posting the link. great stuff.

the art of memory said...

a woodcut, i believe it is, here is another interesting raymond bishop, related to seventies cinema.

i love the moser edition. that is the one i have read mostly when i have gone through her.
i saw the original at a local bookstore recently, real $$$$$

the olson cards are really stunning, mr. morley's find. they remind me so much of cage's work, so perfect they they were water damaged, like they went down with the ship.
the norton critical edition has a good chapter on melville's library.

Anonymous said...


in my opinion Moby dick is one of the great masterpieces of all time... congrats for ypur blog

computer screen

sarah said...

Nothing can surpass Rockwell Kent! That is the most beautiful edition. Thanks so much for putting this all together!