In Praise of Everyman’s Library
By Ningombam Captain
I Will Go With Thee,
And Be Thy Guide,
In Thy Most Need
To Go By Thy Side”
There are three instances on which you might come across the above quotation. The first is when you read the medieval morality play “Everyman”, in which it is spoken by the character called Knowledge; the second, of course, is when you’re reading this article; the third and probably the most significant instance is when you open the title page of any Everyman’s Library books, hardback or paperback. Everyman’s Library is a series of reprinted classics with titles primarily from the Western literature canon. In a place like Manipur, where Barnes & Noble books are unavailable in the average bookshop, Everyman’s Library will be the right choice since it offers the perfect hardbacks for collection and academic uses alike.
A pinch of its history:
Everyman’s Library is the brainchild of the London publisher Joseph Malaby Dent, who planned to release a library of 1,000 volume of world literature, way back in 1905. He wanted the books to be affordable to the readers from different walks of life: from the students to the cultural elite. The writer Ernest Rhys is credited as the founding editor of the affordable classics. He gave the name the very name “Everyman”, inspired by the play of the same name. J.M. Dent and Company commenced the series in 1906 with “Life of Johnson” written by James Boswell, and by 1956, Dent’s goal was achieved, having published the thousandth volume under the trademark.
“With a hundred volumes a man may be intellectually rich for life”
- Joseph Dent (Founder of Everyman’s Library)
The features of a book:
Let’s talk more about the hardbacks, which is also their speciality. And hey, who doesn’t love a robust hardbound book? Every Everyman’s Library hardback has a stylish dust-jacket that will bear the author’s name in posh fonts and the title, in bold. Peel it off, you’ll find one of the most mouth-watering (for hardcore bibliophiles) or eye-fulfilling hardcover book you could have ever seen. I thought I was exaggerating this, until the unpeeled “Ulysses” in my front assured me. The book is like a beautiful non-binary alien pet species, you know. The cherry-red cover is its skin. Filled with thin layers of paper-made flesh, it lies in front of me faithfully, with the attached golden bookmark as its tail. The sturdy spine bearing the names in gold, makes it look more like a vertebrate. Before getting too much weird, let me stop here and clarify to you that this mild anthropomorphism is just a surreal fantasy of mine.
Why Everyman and how to get it:
Mark Twain once defined a classic as something which everyone appreciates but no one reads. In fact, he was right. It is possible but hard for our tiresome eyes to read dusty books with hundreds of pages. But somehow we can manage it if the pages have the warm tone that is pleasant to our eyes. This is something Everyman’s Library books possess. We should know that, purely white pages are often eye-straining, probably due to too much reflection of the light. If you’re an avid reader and collector who admires the beauty of a book, Everyman’s Library hardbacks which are printed and bound in Germany, are the missing ingredients in your life. You can personally urge any trusted bookstores in and around Imphal to retail some of these books if you want. If you’re lucky, they might already have them in store. If not, then Hakuna Matata! For, you can still shop online on Amazon. You can find almost all the titles stranded on it. You might find some of them being a bit expensive, but hey, it is definitely worth it. Trust me and thy guide, Everyman.
(Ningombam Captain is the creator of Blue Bannerman Reviews. The writer is currently pursuing English Hons. in MS University and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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