the newest modern library series

j b krygier jbkrygie at
Sun Jun 22 14:45:58 EDT 2003

Matthew Buckingham wrote:

> Perhaps I should take this opportunity to say what I LIKE about the 
> series, which is actually a whole lot. 

> 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

Yet a number of titles deemed worthy of inclusion in the current
Modern Library will probably be looked at as turkeys in 50 years!

And I must also say that the turkeys in the original ML are among
the most interesting titles in the series for me - who is Frenssen?
Artzibashev?, D'Annunzio?, Sinclair? etc. etc.  They all suggest that
the literary canon is never particularly stable.

> 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

While I like McCarthy, I somehow wonder if his books will
be read in two decades.  Who knows?  I am sure that Frenssen
was as highly regarded in the 1920s.

> 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

The Count is spectacular.  But go dig up the old Everyman's
complete edition, in two fine volumes (of the same size and
feel of the old ML).

> 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. the end...this is a prime reason for me to skip the new
ML titles: many of the old favorites not in the ML are in other
series (Everyman's, etc.) and many of the newer titles can be
found (used) in their original printings (maybe not firsts, but
subsequent printings) - all higher quality books for less $$ than
a new ML.


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