Moby Dick


You can’t have too many copies of Moby Dick.

The Oxford World Classics edition is the one I read first, Christmas 1995 in the south of Spain. A stone cottage in Gualchos, a pueblo blanco in the foothills of the Alpujaras. I remember sitting reading it on the roof terrace with a view of the Mediterranean, as slowly my surroundings fell away and the 19th Century whaling world overtook my consciousness.

The California Press edition is the keeper. It is a reduced version of the Arion Press Moby-Dick, which was published in 1979 in a limited edition of 250 copies. A beautiful example of book design, handset by Andrew Hoyem.  The initial letters that begin each chapter were designed especially for this book and christened “Leviathan.” The illustrations, of places, creatures, objects or tools, and processes connected with nineteenth-century whaling, are original boxwood engravings by Massachusetts artist Barry Moser.