the newest modern library series

J Godsey gods at
Sat Jun 21 10:36:37 EDT 2003

  Perhaps I should take this opportunity to say what I LIKE about the
series, which is actually a whole lot. I have almost no quibbles with the
title selection, for instance. Let's be honest: the original ML had way more
turkeys than the new series, simply by virtue of the fact that what was
viewed as genuinely "literary" changed drastically over the life of the
original series, which included two world wars, the civil rights movement,
the women's movement, Vietnam, etc. , and it's changed a lot since then,
too. Does anyone out there believe, for instance, that the Modern Library
should revive all six of the Anatole France titles that were published by
the series in the 1930s?

  well maybe just penguin island.

  As for the new books, consider the Cormac McCarthy titles (Blood Meridian
and Suttree), The Best and the Brightest by David Halberstam, and the
aforementioned Rimbaud Complete, which from a design standpoint appears as
if from another planet compared to the rest of the series.

  Do we think the McCarthy books should have been picked? I have serious
doubts that those and the Halberstam will be part of the list in 10 years
time.  Perhaps we are missing the point that the catalog changes as the term
'modern' evolves. What was modern then and modern now are quite different.

    One of my favorite novels of all time is also represented for the first
time in the new series, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas, which
to the best of my knowledge is the only unabridged hardcover edition in
print, other than the Folio Society edition, which is a beautiful bit of
bookmaking but substantially more expensive.

  Yes that is a particularly nice addition.

   Where else, too, can you find the incomparable Murray Kempton in
hardcover and in print?

  well actually i think that one went over like a lead balloon as it is
currently unavailable.
   nice selection...kinda makes ML look like "the everyman's version of
library of america"

  The only segment of new Modern Library I hesitate to collect is the
Chronicles series, which I consider a bit lightweight (every book in the
series falls in the 200-page range) and a poor value to boot, at nearly 20
bucks a copy.
  they are a bunch of strange choices, taken as a whole they look like the
kind of titles sold to a cheap reprint house for barnes & noble exclusive

   This is part of what I see as a troubling trend in the new ML: gradual
price creep. Whereas the series was always economically priced in the early
years of its 1990s revival, many of the latest books are priced almost as
high as full-blown trade editions.

  very true.
  my local librayr needs replacement Dumas editions and the only nice ones
in print are the ML's but I can't afford to donate them at full price.


  From: Richard Ugland
    To: modlib at
    Sent: Friday, June 20, 2003 12:41 PM
    Subject: the newest modern library series

    I share some of the concerns recently expressed about the production
    quality of the volumes in the latest modern library series, which
    resurrected our beloved ML in 1992.  But what really delighted me about
    message was that someone was talking about the new series at all.  Sure,
    there have been comments on it from time to time, but for the most part
    series seems to be greeted by those on this list--a couple of exceptions
    noted--with indifference at best and disdain at worst.  Thankfully,
    does pay it deserved attention in the price guide.

    I for one have been thrilled that the ML is back.  Sure, I quibble with
    some of the title selection, and, yes, it took some time to accept the
    jacket design, which apes the Library of America jackets for
    but we should cheer the multiple printings many titles already have had,
    and wish the new series well.  For even if one doesn't collect it, one
    hope that it will spark interest in a new generation of collectors for
    older series.


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