Wiedenfeld and Nicolson is launching Compact Editions. They "have been 'sympathetically edited' down to fewer than 400 pages each. Weidenfeld insists that the novels retain the core plot, characters and historical background." Some agree it's a good idea.
No doubt most of the classics would be a lot shorter if handled by editors of today. I don't think that justifies cutting them down. They're products of an unhurried culture, which we have lost. Although I confess I skipped the long descriptions of how the whaling ship was fitted out in Moby Dick. I do like knowing it's there, just as I like reading the background of the Victorian English legal system in Bleak House.
"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield