John Crowley’s beloved novel Little, Big is without doubt among the greatest works of the imagination created during the last century. In publishing a deluxe, 25th Anniversary Edition of this masterpiece, our goal is twofold: First, we want to fulfill the author’s dream of how the book should be presented, by creating an edition that in every respect, from beauty of design to accuracy of text to excellence of manufacture, will reflect all the artistry, insight, imagination, and care that John Crowley poured into every sentence of Little, Big. And second, we want to create an edition that fans of the book will cherish, an edition that is a joy to behold and to read, an edition made to last several lifetimes.
The interior design of the first edition of Little, Big, published by Bantam Books in 1981 (and duplicated in the current HarperCollins edition), is certainly quite striking. Yet its sensibility is late Victorian, whereas Crowley’s design conception for the book has always been art nouveau. Incunabula has brought together the production team of editor/art director Ron Drummond and typographer/producer John D. Berry to create, in close consultation with John Crowley, that ideal edition of Little, Big.
It’s an ideal that very much includes art. The 25th Anniversary Edition will feature superb reproductions of over three hundred details from the drawings, etchings, engravings, and prints of Peter Milton, an artist whom John Crowley feels is ideally suited to Little, Big. With loving care, we have interwoven Crowley’s words with Milton’s images to create a tapestry full of subtle and surprising resonances, a uniquely revealing concatenation of the work of two modern masters.
The finishing touch comes with a long, ruminative Afterword to Little, Big written especially for the edition by one of the novel’s greatest admirers, Harold Bloom, the Yale humanities professor and bestselling author of The Western Canon and Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human.
Of course, such an embarrassment of riches deserves especially fine book manufacturing. We have provided just that.
As one would expect, the cost of creating such an ambitious edition is enormous. The only way we can do it is in partnership with the people who love the book the most. Thus, the publication of the 25th Anniversary Edition of Little, Big will be paid for by the Readers, participating on a subscription basis. The idea for this was proposed by John Crowley himself.
This is actually a very traditional approach. In 1795, the 24-year-old Beethoven convinced hundreds of aristocratic fans of his piano playing to subscribe in advance to the publication of his official compositional debut: the Three Piano Trios, Opus 1. They bought copies up front, which monies were then used to pay for the engraving and printing of the trios.
The 25th Anniversary Edition is actually three editions, one for every collector’s budget. All three editions will exemplify the highest standards of book production, with superfine acid-free papers, cloths, and sewn bindings.
Unsigned, unnumbered edition. Acid-free paper, full cloth over boards, sewn bindings, dustjacket.
Numbered, signed by the author and artist. Both the Numbered and Lettered Editions include a never-before-published short story by John Crowley related to Little, Big that is not included in the Trade Edition. The first 25 numbers were reserved by the publisher. After that, numbers were assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. Acid-free paper, full cloth, sewn bindings, dustjacket, slipcase.
Lettered, signed by the author, artist, and designers. Both the Numbered and Lettered Editions include a never-before-published piece by John Crowley related to Little, Big that is not included in the Trade Edition.
Furthermore, each buyer of the Lettered Edition was asked to specify their favorite 350-word passage from Little, Big. John Crowley then inscribed the book personally to the buyer, and copied out, in his incredibly fine italic hand, on two facing pages in the book, the selected 350-word passage from the novel. Thus, every one of the twenty-six copies is unique.
The first six letters were reserved by the publisher. The remaining twenty letters were offered for subscription on a first-come, first-served basis.
Acid-free paper, full cloth, sewn bindings, dustjacket, slipcase.