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  • Jeff Somers 3:00 pm on 2017/10/04 Permalink
    Tags: a clockwork orange, , answered prayers, , anthony trollope, , , , , , , , , , j. g. ballard, , joan weigall, , , , , , , , , the adventures of huckleberry finn, the macdermots of ballycloran, , , , , through the looking glass, , why I want to f*ck ronald reagan   

    15 of the Most Infamous Deleted Chapters in History 

    Revision is a vital aspect of creation; all authors delete, re-write, and occasionally burn entire manuscripts with tears streaming down their faces. Most of the time, deleted chapters occur so early in the writing process that they’re not relevant—or interesting. They’re just the cost of doing literary business. Sometimes, though, the story behind excised material is almost as interesting as the finished version of the book it comes from. The fifteen chapters listed here didn’t make it into the published version of the book—but that hasn’t stopped them from being part of the conversation.

    Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
    Heller’s classic 1961 novel, one of the funniest, darkest, and most complex ever written, took about eight years to write—and remains the defining work of Heller’s career. Put simply, if you’re discussing Joseph Heller, you’re discussing Catch-22, and even Heller seemed to accept this towards the end of his life. Much of his late output was directly connected to his first novel, and in 2003 he published the collection Catch as Catch Can which contained two deleted chapters from Catch-22: “Love, Dad” and “Yossarian Survives” (both of which had been previously published). The chapters provide some background on Nately and Yossarian while offering some of Heller’s most savage mockery of the military—and both chapters work perfectly well as standalone stories, making them perhaps the rare examples of chapters deleted from books because they were too good.

    Dracula, by Bram Stoker
    Stoker’s novel is one of the most influential in all of history, but it originally ended a bit differently from the version you’re familiar with. A deleted chapter detailed Dracula’s castle literally falling apart as he dies. It’s not very long—a grace note, really—and there are several theories as to why Stoker excised it very close to its publication. Some people think he might have been envisioning a sequel and wanted to hedge his bets. Others think he might have worried about being accused of stealing the concept from Edgar Allan Poe. Whatever the reason, reading the chapter does change the tone of the novel just enough to make it significant.

    The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
    Wilde’s only novel originally contained a great deal of homosexual imagery, sexual allusions, and other edgy stuff that made his publisher’s head explode. So his editor forced him to cut a great deal of this “objectionable” material. Even so, the book created a stir upon publication, as it still contained passages that outraged a lot of people, and so Wilde revised the book a second time in an effort to make it acceptable. Wilde’s reward was a novel everyone is still reading and, of course, a few years in jail simply for being a homosexual. In 2011 the uncensored version of the book was finally published with the deleted chapters restored, so you can now read the book in all its dirty glory.

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
    In the early versions of Dahl’s beloved book there were actually eight kids brought into Wonka’s factory, and they had some different adventures—including the original chapter 5, which brings the children and their parents into the Vanilla Fudge Room, where a literal mountain of fudge is worked on by Wonka’s servants with picks and hammers, sending boulders of fudge down to the floor where they’re grabbed by cranes and sent on wagons into a hole in the wall. Sounds delightful until two of the kids and their parents ignore Wonka’s warnings and ride the wagons to what they think will be fudge heaven. Instead, Wonka reveals that the fudge is tipped out of the wagons into a machine that pounds it thin then chops it up. Dahl’s publisher thought this was a bit too nasty for kids, and so the chapter was deleted and didn’t see the light of day until 2014.

    The Martian, by Andy Weir
    The Martian by Andy Weir went through a lot of revision. The original version posted on Weir’s website—still available online if you know where to look—is very different from the final version. A few years ago Weir went on Reddit for an unannounced, secret “Ask Me Anything” session and revealed the original epilogue of the story, which featured Mark Watney cursing at a child who asks him if he’d return to Mars if they asked him. It’s actually kind of a delightful ending, and one we wish they would have included in the movie.

    Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
    The original ending of Dickens’ famous novel was kind of dark and sad: Pip and Estella meet years after the events of the novel, but instead of a bittersweet moment implying a future for the two, both are simply bitter, and they part on savage terms. Dickens liked this ending because he thought it was unexpected and original, but his Beta Readers disagreed, so he changed the chapter to the version we’re all familiar with. After publication he went back and revised the final line, coming up with the perfect “I saw no shadow of another parting from her.”

    Why I Want to F*ck Ronald Reagan, by J. G. Ballard
    In the late 1960s, Ronald Reagan was something new: one of the first “media politicians” who knew that how you said something was more important than what you said, as well as one of the first “far right” politicians in mainstream politics. Although a decade and a half from the presidency, he made an impact that J.G. Ballard found interesting, and he wrote a short work styled as an academic paper describing bizarre experiments to measure Reagan’s sexual appeal. It was meant to be challenging and confrontational—and it sure was. It was originally included in Ballard’s collection The Atrocity Exhibition, but the American publisher of the book actually destroyed the entire printing rather than let it loose on the country. Let that sink in: the publisher destroyed every copy of the book rather than publish this. If there’s a better reason to read it, we’re unaware.

    A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
    It’s well-known that the last chapter of Burgess’ novel was deleted before it was published in the United States; the publisher thought the “softer” ending in which Alex starts to mature and see that his behavior in the earlier portions of the book was wrong would turn off American readers. Indeed, many still prefer the way the book ended in the truncated version, which is also the beat Stanley Kubrick’s classic film version ends on: Alex dreaming of violence, thinking “I was cured all right.”

    The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
    Wells’ novel about a man who invents a time machine established not just one of the sturdiest sci-fi tropes of all time, but a template for the modern speculative novel. Wells’ publisher insisted he add a section showing mankind’s ultimate evolutionary fate, and Wells obliged under protest, writing a chapter in which the time traveler escapes the Morlocks by traveling into the distant future, where he encounters small mammals which he determines are the descendants of humanity. Wells never liked it and had it removed as soon as he was able, and while the story, which you can read under the standalone title “The Grey Man,” is interesting, the book is much better without it.

    Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll
    Lewis Carroll’s sequel to Alice in Wonderland is more Alice than Alice in many ways. The illustrator working on the book sent Carroll a note saying he wasn’t inspired by the “wasp chapter”, and suggested none-too-subtly that if Carroll were looking to cut the book down a bit, the Wasp part would be the place to start. No one knew what he was referring to, however—until 1976 when the missing “Wasp in a Wig” chapter was put up for auction. One problem, however: no one has ever been able to verify that this was actually written by Carroll. Reading it, the reason people have doubts is pretty clear: it’s awful. Either Carroll cut the one example of bad writing he ever managed…or he didn’t write it.

    Picnic at Hanging Rock, by Joan Weigall
    Weigall’s 1967 novel was a sensation at the time, despite the fact that it literally had no ending. The story of college students who disappear while visiting Hanging Rock in Australia was originally ended with a pretty crazy explanation of everything that happened, but Weigall’s publisher suggested the book might do better without the, um, crazy part and so the final chapter was deleted (you can read it here if you want), meaning that the story just stops, and no explanation is offered at all for the mystery. This actually fueled the book’s success, making it into a “must read” at the time. If the Internet had existed in 1967, this book would have broken it.

    The MacDermots of Ballycloran, by Anthony Trollope
    Trollope had very low expectations for his first novel, and these were borne out when it didn’t do very well. Although the novel has gained in reputation since its initial lackluster publication, you have to be careful to get the original 1847 version, because Trollope later hacked his book to death in an effort to…improve it, we guess? He deleted three chapters and changed a great deal of what makes the original novel interesting (mainly the Irish dialects, politics, and the character flaws). The revised version isn’t nearly as good, and the three missing chapters are, ironically, some of the best writing in the book.

    Answered Prayers, by Truman Capote
    Capote’s transformation from brilliant writer to alcoholic gadfly took about twenty years, and in that time he continuously accepted advances and signed contracts for Answered Prayers, a novel he never got around to finishing. Four chapters were published in magazines (the first, “La Côte Basque 1965,” was so obviously based on his real-life friends and acquaintances Capote pretty much lost every friend he had) and they’re pretty hefty, amounting to a novel’s worth of text if put together. But several other chapters have been referenced in Capote’s correspondence—and he claimed he’d written the final chapter first so he’d know where he was going—that have yet to turn up anywhere.

    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
    Twain, never one to be typical, wasn’t satisfied to delete a mere chapter, instead opting to delete 665 manuscript pages, essentially an entire shadow version of his all-time classic novel. Twain paused work on the book for three years, and scholars have long argued over where exactly he broke off and what he changed when he returned to the book. The deleted chapters contain plenty of material not present in the final book, and have proved invaluable in trying to determine Twain’s intentions and process.

    Persuasion, by Jane Austen
    Austen was one of the most meticulous writers of all time, and put a lot of effort into revising her novels. Persuasion is one of the few in which we can compare early drafts to see how the novel developed, and Austen’s deleted chapters show a ruthless approach to improving the pacing of the plot and the creation of her characters. Assembling earlier versions of the novel show what her original inspiration was, how her ideas changed as she worked, and cast some light on the sausage-making underneath the charming and compelling narratives Austen created.

    Did we miss any famous deleted chapters?

    The post 15 of the Most Infamous Deleted Chapters in History appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ross Johnson 8:30 pm on 2016/09/23 Permalink
    Tags: a clockwork orange, , director's cut, , , , raymond carver, , , version 1.0   

    Our Favorite Book “Director’s Cuts” 

    For better or worse, the “director’s cut” has become ubiquitous in film. It’s almost a given that the home version of a popular film will squeeze in a few extra minutes of material cut from the theatrical release (thank George Lucas for sparking the trend). Once in a while, though, these are more than simple attempts to encourage viewers to check out a movie a second time: in rare cases, director’s cuts offer a superior, and markedly different, experience, deepening the plot and enriching the characters.

    This phenomenon has been known to occur in the book world too, albeit much less often (editors do occasionally know what they’re talking about). We were fascinated by Harper Lee’s controversial Go Set a Watchman, apparently a very early version of her classic To Kill a Mockingbird. While Watchmen has virtues all its own, and makes for a very interesting class in the development of a novel, few would argue with the notion that Lee’s editor made an extraordinary contribution to 20th century literature when he asked for that rewrite.

    Still, there are plenty of reasons why an author (or her heirs) might want an alternate version to see the light of day: changing standards might mean once controversial material will sit better with the contemporary public; hot button topics might have cooled; an author’s popularity might mean that a book that once seemed unmarketable for its length might be a bestseller all over again. Here are a few instances in which a book’s “director’s cut” (or, sometimes, the “author’s preferred text”) makes a case for eclipsing the original.

    American Gods and Neverwhere Anniversary Editions, by Neil Gaiman
    For the 10th anniversary edition of American Gods, he  went back to tweak and adjust things with which he wasn’t thrilled in the published edition, largely by reinserting material cut upon initial publication. The additions run to something like 12,000 words, but it’s almost all material that had been cut in order to make for a more reasonably sized book. Given time and trust, we readers will frequently invest more time in an author whom we love, so size becomes less of an issue.

    American Gods wasn’t the first time Gaiman used the very fine excuse of a milestone anniversary to refine an earlier edition of one of his books. In Neverwhere, the differences are more focused. Simply put, Gaiman was never entirely satisfied with the changes he made in order to make the book more palatable to American audiences. For the U.S. edition, he’d added several thousands words, frequently to clarify the British setting and slang, and cutting other bits to compensate. He was also asked to curtail or remove much of the humor, the publisher feeling it would go well over the heads of us Yanks (the same thing happened with Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy—jokes deemed too obscure for Americans were frequently altered to make them simply nonsensical). Gaiman’s preferred version restores and revises much of that added material, tweaking the book while restoring it to a purer state. He also added back a deleted prologue, and tacked on a new story. All in all, the author’s preferred edition is the largely the superior text.

    The Stand, by Stephen King
    The Stand was never a small book. When originally published in 1978, King’s post-apocalyptic horror adventure clocked in at around 800 pages. (That was the edited version.) King was a well-established figure even back then, but it was apparently felt his original manuscript would actively discourage readers from picking it up (perhaps literally). By 1990, things were quite a bit different: The Stand was already considered a classic (one soon to become a TV miniseries), and King was more than just a bestselling author—he was a living legend. Suddenly, buying a giant book by one of the most popular writers of his generation felt less like a chore and more like a bargain. King went back to his original text to selectively add back in scenes and scenarios, also throwing in a few “contemporary” pop culture references and updating the setting to the 1990s. The revised edition is some 400 pages longer, and good luck finding the originally published version today—it’s been out of print for decades, making comparing the two an exercise in trolling used book dealers.

    Twilight Tenth Anniversary/Life and Death Dual Edition, by Stephenie Meyer
    This one isn’t exactly a “director’s cut” in the usual sense of the term. The anniversary edition of Stephenie Meyer’s sparkly vampires saga includes the original novel, unchanged, but adds an extra 400-ish pages that take the story in a whole new direction—replacing main characters Bella and Edward with Beau and Edyth, gender-swapped versions of the romantic leads. Indeed, almost every character gets switched with one of the opposite gender, including physical powerhouse Emmett, who becomes the similarly imposing Eleanor. It’s essentially a whole new novel, even if the story beats (and the majority of the text) are largely the same, and controversial for all sorts of reasons. It’s a unique experiment, and a fun way to give fans a little something extra.

    A Farewell to Arms: The Hemingway Library Edition, by Ernest Hemingway
    There’s only one A Farewell to Arms, but here’s one instance where Hemingway has something in common with Stephenie Meyer: each of their books is available in editions which allow you to have a taste of what might have been. A recent edition of Farewell to Arms offers not just one different take, but several dozen—47, to be exact, one for each of the notoriously deliberate writer’s attempts at a conclusion. (Spoilers ahead!) In the original, Frederic Henry steps ambiguously into the rain, having lost his lover Catherine along with his stillborn son. But that was just one of the possibilities Hemingway considered; in others, the son lives. Some offer uplifting, deliberately religious messages of hope. Some are deeply romantic. Not one matches the power of the ending ultimately selected, but it’s fascinating to see the author posthumously working out a conclusion—and a reminder that much of the magic of writing is in rewriting.

    Stranger in a Strange Land: The Original Uncut Version, by Robert A. Heinlein
    Despite not arriving on shelves until three years after the death of its author, the expanded edition of Robert Heinlein’s free-love classic is generally regarded as superior, to the tune of around 60,000 extra words. In 1961, Heinlein produced what he felt was a tightly plotted and complete novel, and which his publisher criticized as way too long and filled with far too much sex and religious commentary. Given the controversy and impact that the abridged version generated, perhaps Putnam was right. In the early ’90s, Heinlein’s widow Virginia was able to secure the book’s copyright and set about procuring the original manuscript and publishing a version that matched her husband’s intent more closely. Typically we frown upon family members who revise classic novels once an author has passed, but in the case, few doubt the expanded version is the book that Robert Heinlein planned all along.

    A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
    In Heinlein’s case, his manuscript was trimmed in order to produce something slightly tamer, any good publisher’s goal being, of course, to produce something people will actually want to buy. Though it was approximately contemporaneous, American publishers had a different goal in mind when bringing Anthony Burgess’ dystopian classic of ultraviolence and behavior modification to the U.S.: they wanted something darker than what they’d found in the original UK version. (Spoilers ahead!) As originally released, the book included a 21st chapter not found in American editions until 1986. Legend has it that director Stanley Kubrick wasn’t even aware of the intended conclusion when he made his film version. In that last chapter, anti-hero Alex discovers the error of his ways and seeks to change his life for the better. Without that last bit, the book ends with Alex having given in to his darkest impulses. It’s possible that the American publisher felt Alex’s redemption undercut the book’s dystopian vision. Or, maybe, they just thought it was cooler without the happy ending.

    What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, by Raymond Carver
    Another interesting alternate edition, and a stand-in for many authors whose work was mercilessly edited against their will. Carver was a short story writer whose work in the 1970s and 1980s—its deliberately spare prose style, chronicling the trials of the American working class—served to remind everyone that short fiction can be as thoughtful and probing as novels. The short story collection What We Talk About…was his breakthrough work, earning him critical acclaim and mainstream attention. It was overseen by legendary editor Gordon Lish, with whom Carver clashed over extensive edits, particularly to the title story. The Library of America edition includes the published text, as well as the original manuscript of the story, then called “Beginners.” Some of the changes are inexplicable but inconsequential, as when “Carl” became “Ed.” Others are more interesting: the edited version is significantly shorter, cutting out whole subplots to create a tighter narrative, but one lacking some of the depth of the original. Both have their virtues, and it’s fascinating to compare them.

    What’s your favorite “director’s cut” book?

    The post Our Favorite Book “Director’s Cuts” appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • John Bardinelli 4:30 pm on 2014/11/06 Permalink
    Tags: a clockwork orange, , , arthur machen, , , fictional languages, , invented worlds, , , the white people   

    5 Sinister Fictional Languages Best Kept That Way 

    STK651032Need an extra shot of realism in your carefully constructed world? Time to invent a language! Authors have been creating fictional languages for decades, making it much more exciting when characters start screaming at each other. Some of these fictional languages are simple substitutes for naughty words, but others have entire vocabularies you can memorize and speak fluently. Once you start digging into a constructed language, you pull a little piece of that fictional realm out into the real world—but with the sinister constructed languages below, that might not be such a good idea.

    First used in 1899, this fictional language is said to have mystical powers. As in, real world mystical powers, the kind that can sneak into your kitchen at night and replace all your coffee with decaf. Aklo was first mentioned by Arthur Machen in The White People, a fantasy horror short story that is perfectly sinister in its own right. Since then, several authors have used Aklo in their own tales, including H. P. Lovecraft. The thing about Aklo is that the writers who use it are purposefully vague about its construction and vocabulary. You know, just in case some hapless reader accidentally summons a world-devouring demon of destruction.

    High Valyrian
    A Song of Ice and Fire author George R. R. Martin professed he wasn’t much of a linguist, but that didn’t stop him from seeding several unique languages throughout his fantasy series. High Valyrian is sort of like Westeros’ version of Latin. No one speaks it when they’re out buying groceries or walking the dog; it’s reserved for those moments when you really need to drive a point home. The most bone-chilling phrase in the books is valar morghulis, which translates to “all men must die.” (It’s the warm and fuzzy phrase Arya Stark says when she recites her list of people she wants to kill.) Valar morghulis is usually answered with valar dohaeris, or “all men must serve.” One reminds you that death is inevitable, the other enforces the fact that the only reason you’re alive is to serve death. Have a nice day!

    Reading Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange is a lot like paging through a creepy dictionary melded with a great novel. Its teen protagonists favor a pseudo-language called Nadsat, a loose collection of words and phrases that allow them to talk in code about all the terrible things they do. It isn’t a complete language—more like glorified slang—but it has a profound impact on how you experience the story. At first, reading about rivers of red, red kroovy pouring out of a flesh wound separates you from the horror with a wall of linguistics. Kroovy doesn’t sound so bad, right? Once you look the word up, realize it means blood, see it again and recognize it, your brain is instantly dropped cortex-first into a violent dystopian world. Not even linguistic ignorance can save you now.

    Another product of A Song of Ice and Fire, the Dothraki tongue isn’t necessarily evil in its own right. If you happen to hear it being spoken, though, you know something bad is about to go down. The Dothraki people are warlike nomads who wander the steppes and deserts raiding and pillaging whoever and whatever happens to be in the way. They fight, they insult, and they do both with almost no provocation. Not exactly the kind of folks you’d meet at the opera. Just like High Valyrian, the Dothraki language only exists as a few words in the original novels. When the television show took off, a linguist swooped in and created a whole vocabulary for the actors to use. Now, Dothraki contains around 3,100 words—enough that you can learn to speak it, thanks to Living Language Dothraki, a language course that even includes a pronunciation CD. The most recognizable of which is khaleesi, which means “wife of a ruler,” a word so popular that in the last few years nearly 200 people named their daughters Khaleesi. That’s kind of sweet, but let’s wait and see what bullies turn it into when they need an easy insult on the playground.

    The Dark Tongue of Mordor
    The Dark Tongue of Mordor, also known as The Black Speech, is one of the least complete constructed languages in The Lord of the Rings. Don’t worry, there’s a very good reason for that: J.R.R. Tolkien found it utterly unpleasant to work with. Think about that for a second: the Dark Tongue is so malevolent that even its creator thought it was a little too powerful. Apart from Sauron and his servants, no one in Middle Earth speaks it, as they’re afraid it’ll draw attention from Mordor. But that avoidance goes two ways. Elves, who are basically the embodiment of all that is good and pure, are fond of the letter E.  The Dark Tongue, therefore, doesn’t use that letter, ever. Relatedly, what do photographers say when they want you to smile? Cheese! That E sound in the middle naturally produces a smile. Unsurprising that the Dark Tongue ignores it entirely.

    What fictional language would you study?

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