Modern Library College Editions

Publisher: Random House

People: Jess M. Stein

Years: 1950-1985

Related Series: Modern Library Paperbacks

See the discussion of the role Rinehart Editions played in driving Random House into creating Modern Library College Editions in Jay Satterfield, THE WORLD'S BEST BOOKS 156-57 (2002).

As of December 1950, the College Editions numbered 51 titles (see Modern Library College Editions Advertisement, 12 CEA Critic 3 (Dec. 1950)). Note that T1 through T41 were released all at once in 1950 -- the issue order is alphabetical by the author's last name. Titles T42 through T51 are also alphabetical within that range. After that, it gets a little more complicated. Titles T52, T56, T58, & T60 (Coleridge, Howells, Poe, Tennyson) were the next issues in 1951, so the order is at least still alphabetical (see Modern Library College Editions Advertisement, 12 College English [nn] (May 1951)).

By Fall 1953, the series had still not had any new issues and numbered 55 total (see Modern Library College Editions Advertisement, 15 Kenyon Review 649 (1953)). This number of 55 is referenced in an advertisement as late as March, 1961, at 50 English Journal [nn] (Mar. 1961). Around this date the titles are released mostly in order, although a few of them were apparently delayed, sometimes for years as compared to the date of original solicitation (e.g., T99 appears with a 1967 publication date in an ad in 82 PMLA A-63 (Sept. 1967) but has a 1969 publication date in 30 College English [nn] (May 1969).

Mary Chesnut's Diary, as edited by Joseph Conlin (California State University, Chico), was solicited for November 1980 but never published (see ad in 21 American Studies 124 (Fall 1980)).

See Modern Library College Editions (Random House ~1964)


Modern Library Introduces 65-Cent College Editions, PW, Apr. 29, 1950, at 1896-1897.

Modern Library College Editions Advertisement, 12 Kenyon Review 711 (1950):

For more than a generation, the Modern Library has been the most popular source of inexpensive, reliable editions of the best books of all times. Now there is a new series in the Modern Library, prepared specifically for the classroom—the Modern Library College Editions, priced at 65¢ a book in sturdy, flexible binding.

Each book in this new series contains the best possible text, preceded by an introduction written by an outstanding critic and teacher—Morton D. Zabel, Mark Schorer, Henri Peyre, Eric Bentley, Cleanth Brooks, Francis Ferguson, Robert B. Heilman, Joseph Warren Beach, to name just a few. These introductions contain penetrating critical discussions of the book, as well as necessary biographical and bibliographical data.

We will be delighted to send complimentary examination copies to faculty members anywhere. In entering requests, please indicate (1) title of book, (2) your name and address, and (3) the course for which the title is under consideration.

C.B.B., Review, 3 Comparative Literature 82 (1951):

Random House has made available in a new series of inexpensive (65 cents), paper-bound volumes some forty or more titles of the well-known Modern Library books. These reprints have been furnished with new bibliographies and newly written or revised introductions by scholars now teaching in American universities. In a few cases the older volume has been expanded (e.g., Whitman's Leaves of Grass has become Leaves of Grass and Selected Prose) or even entirely reset in order to present a more reliable text (Scarlet Letter, Vanity Fair.) An occasional new title has been added (e.g., Seven Famous Greek Plays, ed. Oates and O'Neill). Sixteen of the first forty volumes published in the new collection offer foreign classics, ancient and modern, in standard English translations. As the series grows, we may hope that the proportion of non-English works will suffer no decrease, and that the publishers will endeavor to secure poetical translations of poets and more accurate translations of some prose writers (e.g., Cervantes). All teachers of courses in world literature or great books will welcome these serviceable and moderately priced editions.

Bulletin Board, 12 CEA Critic 8 (May 1950)