[ModLib] Farrell Studs Lonigan Giant

Gordon B. Neavill aa3401 at wayne.edu
Fri May 21 17:34:25 EDT 2010

I'm making final revisions in my ML bibliography this summer and have a question about the first printing of James T. Farrell's Studs Lonigan (G41). This exists in two bibliographically distinct forms, both of which have the statement, "First Modern Library Giant Edition | 1938" on the verso of the title page.

Farrell's trilogy was originally published by Vanguard Press in 3 volumes between 1932 and 1935. Vanguard Press published it in a one-volume edition in 1935, printed from the original plates in 3 sequences of pagination. Whenever possible the Modern Library used the original publisher's plates for its printings. This is what it did for a portion of the "First Modern Library Giant Edition" and for all subsequent printings of Studs Lonigan.

But Vanguard Press had more printed sheets of Studs Lonigan than it needed, and it made the ML a deal it couldn't refuse to take them off their hands.  Part of the "First Modern Library Giant Edition" consisted of printed sheets acquired from Vanguard Press. To turn these sheets into a ML Giant they cut out the first two leaves (4 pages) of the Vanguard Press printing and replaced them with newly printed sheets consisting the MLG half title, title page, biographical note about Farrell, Farrell's introduction written for the MLG Giant, and possibly more.  The leaves containing newly printed material were oversewn (you can see the thread clearly in the inner margin of the title page and subsequent leaves) and sewed them to the blank leaf facing the section title ("SECTION ONE") of Young Lonigan.  Chapter One of Young Lonigan begins on p. 3; the section title is unnumbered but would be p. [1].  These copies were placed on the market in a Giant binding in fall 1938 and have a fall 1938 jacket, with "262 OUTSTANDING TITLES" in the heading of the ML list inside the jacket.  Technically these copies are considered a ML issue of the Vanguard Press printing.

Remaining copies of the First Modern Library Giant Edition were printed by the ML's regular printers and sewn in the normal way.  The only thread you can see is in the gutter margin in the center of each gathering. Technically these copies are considered the first ML printing.

In this situation, which wasn't common (Franz Werfel's Forty Days of Musa Dagh is another example) the ML normally placed the two bibliographical variants on the market simultaneously: (1) copies that consisted mostly of sheets acquired from the original publisher and (2) copies that consisted entirely of sheets printed for the ML.  However, I've only seen copies of the "First Modern Library Giant Edition" of Studs Lonigan that consist entirely of sheets printed for the ML in spring 1939 jackets ("265 OUTSTANDING TITLES).  The books don't include ML lists, so the only way to date them is by the jacket.  It's possible that the ML released copies that were made up primarily of Vanguard Press sheets in fall 1938 and copies it printed itself in winter 1939.

Another way to distinguish the two bibliographical varieties of First Modern Library Edition Giant edition of Studs Lonigan is the epigraph from Moby Dick that appears on the second leaf of The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan (the second novel of the trilogy). The epigraph precedes the part title "SECTION ONE". The epigraph consists of 11 lines in italic in copies made up of Vanguard Press sheets and 10 lines in italic in copies printed specifically for the Modern Library.  My guess is that the original plate for this page was damaged at some point, either by the Vanguard Press printers or the ML printers, and it had to be reset.

I'd be grateful if you could check your first ML Giant editions of Studs Lonigan and let me know which you have; if your copy matches the description of those printed specifically for the ML, let me know if it has a fall 1938 jacket (262) or spring 1939 (265) jacket.

Many thanks!


Gordon B. Neavill
Associate Professor
School of Library and Information Science
Wayne State University
106 Kresge Library
Detroit, MI 48202
313-577-0507; 313-577-7563 (fax)

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