Tag: Modern Classics

How do you pick an imprint for classics?

Posted May 3, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 8 Comments

Every publisher seems to have their own classics section. Penguin Random House now control most of the market (Penguin Classics, Modern Classics, Signet Classics, Vintage Classics, etc). So how do you choose which collection to buy from? Do you even pay attention to the publisher? When I first started hording collecting books, I didn’t pay too much attention and went for the prettier cover but I’m beginning to wonder if this is a decent solution.

1-05-2014 11-38-14 AM

Sure, I would love to own every book released in the Pulp! the Classics; they are fun and I do own a few of them already but buying a classic because of their covers isn’t really effective. Not all editions are the same, in particular translated classics. When picking up a Russian classic do you know which translator to pick? Do you spend time researching the best translator or do you have a publisher you can trust?

I’ve often contemplated this question and since studying at university I’ve noticed that they often recommend two publishers more than any other; Norton Classics and Oxford World Classics. While they don’t have the best covers, I’ve had the greatest success with Oxford World Classics, to the point that I don’t want to buy any other editions. If asking the internet which translation of a novel I should read, for War and Peace it is Louise and Aylmer Maude and for Crime and Punishment, Jessie Coulson is often the answer. They are the translators used in the Oxford World Classics.

I’m not sure what it is, I just trust Oxford World Classics more than any other and they often offer some great questions to ask yourself in the back of the novel. My new found love for Oxford World Classics and the reason for this post is not to give a sales pitch or anything like that; I’m just curious if others think about this topic in as much detail as I do. If so, which publisher do you trust over all others?