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Hope for me - and Moby-Dick -yet

Like most New Yorker subscribers, I'm always a month or so behind. So forgive me for writing about an article in the Oct. 22 issue by Adam Gopnik, but it just might change my life.

See, Gopnik writes about the new "compact editions" of 19th century classics by the British publisher Moby Orion, in which editors hack edit the books in half. One of the books in question is, of course, Herman Melville's "masterpiece," and Gopnik actually believes the edits improve the book. Out go the lengthy and outdated passages on whaling, as well as what Gopnik calls "the philosophical meanderings, and the metaphysical huffing and puffing."

What you get is, apparently, the good story. I need to get my hands on one of these mini Moby-Dicks so I can slay my own white literary whale at last.

For the record, Gopnik goes on to say the same trick doesn't work with Thackeray's Vanity Fair (a book I have read and loved). Apparently cutting out Thackeray's chatty asides leaves a story unable to charm or captivate, which I can believe.

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Jill Cassidy

It would be a great service to readers everywhere to apply this technique to Faulkner. Non-book aside: How about that Joey Porter? See what happens when he leaves his tutu in the locker room and puts on the big-boy uniform?

amy

What's the difference between these "compact editions" and those "condensed books" from Readers Digest that my dad used to get 100 years ago?

Connie

I'm not sure what the difference is. Presumably Orion more lovingly edits them...which sounds suspiciously like hooey to me. I guess the main difference would be that this story said they were doing it with 19th century novels, whereas Reader's Digest books would do bestsellers.

amy

Oh.
Call me unimpressed.
Don't be a wimp. Read the REAL book.

patrick

I read Moby Dick years and years ago when I had more intestinal fortitude...Tried to read it a couple of years back...got about a hundred pages in...tedium...

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