Publishers like Library of America and the Pléiade?
August 26, 2011 10:30 AM   Subscribe

Both the Library of America and the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade publish handsome, authoritative texts in uniform, built-to-last editions (with or without extensive notes), and being selected for publication in either is seen by many as affirming the author's place in the canon. What other publishers do the same thing?

Things I'm not interested in:

-publishers with more democratic aims like the Modern Library or Everyman's
-affordable paperbacks like Oxford World Classics, Penguin Classics, or Norton Critical Editions
-anything like the Easton Press or the Folio Society

Things I'm somewhat interested in:

-Loeb Classics, Oxford Classical Texts, or Clay Sanskrit Library; but I'm much more interested in the way a culture cements its own canon through this kind of publishing, less so in how another culture does it for them
-the equivalent of Penguin Classics in other languages, like Folio Classique (less so if an LoA equivalent exists for that language or literature)

(I've seen this question but didn't find any of the answers very helpful)

posted by villanelles at dawn to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
For poets, maybe having Faber & Faber publish a 'selected poems' in those volumes with the uniform design but different color for each one, e.g.,
posted by Paquda at 10:48 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

For editions of older poets, with annotation of very high quality, the Longman Annotated English Poets series.
posted by Paquda at 10:51 AM on August 26, 2011

Princeton's Bollingen Series
posted by jayder at 11:18 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

The New York Review of Books Classics series of reprints seems to be a market step above "afordable paperbacks".

The Ignatius Press "Ignatius Critical Editions" is I guess something you're not interested in, pitching itself--as it does--as an alternative to Oxford World Classics or Norton Critical Editions.
posted by Jahaza at 11:29 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Migne's "Patrologiae cursus completus, Latin series (Patrologia Latina) in 221 vols. (1844-5); Greek series (Patrologia Graeca), first published in Latin (85 vols., 1856-7); then published with Greek text and Latin translation (165 vols., 1857-8)."

Similarly Sources Chrétiennes and Fontes Christiani.

The Ancient Christian Writers series from Paulist Press is a uniform edition and they are nicely bound hardcovers. The pics on the Paulsit Press web site don't show what they actually look like.

I'm much more interested in the way a culture cements its own canon through this kind of publishing, less so in how another culture does it for them

If we can stretch the idea of what a culture is to a monastic order, the Cistercian Fathers Series is definitely doing this. The books are available in both hardcover and trade paperback.
posted by Jahaza at 11:42 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

-Harvard recently introduced a couple of new primary text series as complements to the Loeb Classics: I Tatti concentrates on the Italian Renaissance, Dumbarton Oaks on medieval literature.

-Not quite what you're looking for, I think, but worth a side glance: Sentry Editions, a Houghton Mifflin imprint from the 60s. The editors focused on classics of American history and literature, with occasional forays into American-written European history, and their selections are fairly representative of what a progressive patriot with a retrospective bent would have been reading at the time: MacLeish, Cather, Dos Passos, Henry Adams, Henry James.

These were trade paperbacks, which is why they quite don't fit your criteria. However, they were (are) freakishly durable, due to quality stock and a unique protective resin coating on their covers. It's not unusual to find one in like-new condition, fifty years after publication.
posted by Iridic at 11:54 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also in patrology the Ancient Christian Texts series from IVP. These are large heavy hardcovers nearly quarto size. (Will stop now.)
posted by Jahaza at 11:57 AM on August 26, 2011

Early English Text Society publications are the Anglo-Saxon language equivalent of the Loeb Classics series.
posted by Chrischris at 12:02 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Prometheus Trust (UK) publishes gorgeous hardcovers of Plato, Aristotle, and neo-Platonist classics translations by Thomas Taylor, the 18th century philosopher/translator, also known as the English Platonist or English Pagan. Perhaps this is a way to "canonize" some of the more obscure classical works.
posted by Atrahasis at 12:06 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

In Germany there is the Klassiker Verlag, published by Suhrkamp. And does the Folio Society count?
posted by TheRaven at 12:36 PM on August 26, 2011

The Italian publisher Mondadori's I Meridiani series is another.
posted by misteraitch at 1:37 PM on August 26, 2011

Response by poster: Wow, so many excellent responses. Thanks, and keep 'em coming!
posted by villanelles at dawn at 2:56 PM on August 26, 2011

The Insel Verlag was founded in 1901 to publish well-designed and well-printed editions of classic and modern German literature. Stefan Zweig, in his autobiography, describes the pride he felt in being published under the same imprint as Goethe and Rilke:

To accept only works of the purest artistic expression in its purest form was the motto of this exclusive publishing house, which at first depended on a small clientele of real connoisseurs. With conscious pride in its isolation it called itself Die Insel (the Island) and, later, the Insel-Verlag. Its books were not to be factory-made but every opus was to be given an external distinction in the printed form which suited its inner perfection: thus the title page, the letter press, the face of type and the paper for each book presented a new and individual problem ..

Hofmannsthal and Rilke were united in their lyric work in the Insel-Verlag, and their presence set the highest standard as the only valid one. One can readily imagine my joy and my pride in being honoured, at twenty-six, with permanent citizenship in this 'island'. The external significance of this relationship was literary promotion; inwardly it meant increased responsibility. Whoever stepped into this select circle had to practise discipline and reticence, no literary flightiness was permitted him, he dared not be guilty of any journalistic haste, for the Insel-Verlag's colophon implied, at first for thousands and later for hundreds of thousands, not only a guarantee of textual quality, but also exemplary perfection of everything pertaining to the printer's art.

In England, the Oxford English Texts have traditionally been the 'gold standard' of scholarly editions, and have played an important role in establishing the literary canon. R.W. Chapman's edition of Jane Austen, published in 1923, was particularly influential in cementing Austen's reputation as the classic English novelist. Although you usually had to be dead to have your collected works published by Oxford University Press, a few authors, such as the now-forgotten Lascelles Abercrombie and the all-but-forgotten Robert Bridges, were canonised in their own lifetimes.
posted by verstegan at 3:01 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

There's Biblioteca Castro for Spain (El Pais piece where they say they want to be a LoA or Pléiade).
posted by lucia__is__dada at 8:06 AM on August 27, 2011

Editorial Gredos has authoritative versions of almost every single classical latin and greek text ever translated into spanish. Circulo de Lectores: Galaxia de Guttemberg has Pleyade-like (almost the same size and paper) complete editions of latam and spanish authors like Paz, Nicanor Parra, etc. Mexico's Fondo de Cultura Económica has authoritative critical editions of contemporary spanish language classics under it's very unwieldy series: Colección Archivos, and almost any major Mexican writer (Octavio Paz, Alfonso Reyes, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Fernando del Paso) has their complete works edited by them under a very similar white format by El Fondo.
posted by Omon Ra at 3:27 PM on August 30, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you all so much, exactly what I was looking for. And, if anyone's interested, I just this morning read about a proposed series called The Murty Classical Library of India which would fit in quite well here. Thanks again!
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:03 AM on September 2, 2011

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