Compact nonsense

Great Books In Half The Time
Weidenfeld and Nicolson have come up with 'Compact Editions'. Tag line: Great Books in Half the Time.

in the first series of Compact Editions Anna Karenina, Moby-Dick along with David Copperfield, The Mill on the Floss, Vanity Fair and Wives and Daughters will be 'sympathetically edited' down to fewer than 400 pages. But don't fret - so sympathetic are these editors that they will keep the central plot, characters and historical background.

There's not really much else I could say to add to what Jenny Diski says about this abominable practice. It's one thing for someone to read the Cliff Notes of a book instead of the book but when publishers start "compacting" great books into less than half of what they once were, it's unconscionable. Diski is completely right about this, a cut-down Moby Dick is not Moby Dick, it's some other book written by someone who I assure you is nowhere near as talented as Melville. Why not just read the read the Wikipedia page and pretend you read the book? It's the same practice. You haven't read Moby Dick in either case so what do you care? It's only giving people a safe way to lie about having read the book since in theory the words were all written down by the original author, just not in the same order, placement, or with the same impact. Yes, Moby Dick is a long book and it contains probably too much detail about whaling and whales but THAT'S PART OF THE BOOK! You can't take that stuff out and pretend you read Moby Dick, you just can't. You can't drive halfway to your destination and then tell everybody you went there and it was great and wasn't it awesome that you got to do it in half the time by avoiding the boring stuff, which is actually what made everybody else go there in first place? ARRRGGGH!