Sunday, September 1, 2019
When my parents died, I inheirted their libraries. One set of 28 books were from The Modern Library series.
The series was created in 1917 with the intent to provide American readers with inexpensive reprints of what were considered important European titles and a few contemporary American books.
The books were issued in compact, hard-cover with a textured cloth in two-tone finish and without dust jackets. (There are different color schemes but I've never figured out if there is a signficance to the color combinations.) The series adopted a running torchbearer as its logo. The Modern Library was sold in 1927 to a new publisher, Random House, lead by editor Bennett Cerf. Random House added more titles over time billing tself as “The Modern Library of the World’s Best Books” but kept its mission the same. The series, published thorough the 1930s, reached some 280 titles and covered authors from Aristotle to Zola.
I recall seeing their distinctive dark spines on our book shelves as a kid but they looked too intimidating to explore except for one--Famous Ghost Stories (this edition is dog eared and the spine split at the seams because I carried it around for a time but read only a couple of stories).
I doubt I'll ever read them all but they make a cozy collection for a small shelf and when in doubt, you'll always have one of the world's best books available.
For a history of The Modern Library see this one given to the Book Club of California