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 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 Out go the lengthy and outdated passages on whaling, as well as what Gopnik calls "the philosophical meanderings, and the metaphysical huffing and puffing."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.