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  • Jeff Somers 3:00 pm on 2017/10/04 Permalink
    Tags: , , answered prayers, , anthony trollope, , , , , , , , great expectations, , 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.

  • Jeff Somers 3:30 pm on 2017/01/19 Permalink
    Tags: , , great expectations, , , the fault in our stars original ending, the sense of an ending, wait what?   

    5 Beloved Novels That Almost Had Very Different Endings 

    The act of creation isn’t always simple. Sure, sometimes writers receive a flash of inspiration and create something fully-formed. More often, writing a novel is a start-stop process, marked by flurries of intense work and stretches of contemplation. Most novels undergo serious revision between the initial idea and the final version. (Heck, some authors continue revising even after a book has been published.) Even still, usually a finished novel is fairly similar in its main plot points to the first draft. But not always, as these five famous novels demonstrate—the endings of each were actually quite different in the initial draft, sometimes shockingly so. (Beware of spoilers, obviously!)

    The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
    Anyone who has struggled to main their composure when reading the devastating, somehow inspiring ending of Green’s novel knows the death of Augustus, the co-lead and primary love interest of the main character, cancer-afflicted teen Hazel, hits hard. It’s a quiet, yet intense ending that fits perfectly with what comes before. But Green recently admitted that he had two other endings in mind, and in retrospect, both of them sound absolutely insane: in one, Peter Van Houten ties a character to railroad tracks in order to explore the philosophical puzzle known as the Trolley Problem, and in another, Van Houten and Hazel die together in a shootout with drug lords. Green was talked out of both ideas and settled on the tragic ending that so perfectly ends the story, and no, you’re tearing up thinking about it again, not us. Pass those tissues.

    A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
    The final lines of Hemingway’s 1929 classic A Farewell to Arms are perfectly Hemingwayesque: “But after I had got them out and shut the door and turned off the light it wasn’t any good. It was like saying good-by to a statue. After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain.” The clipped rhythm, unadorned sentences, and bleakness: that’s Hemingway, all right. But in 1958, Papa admitted he’d struggled to find those words, and estimated he’d written 39 alternate endings before settling on the final version. Recent scholarship ups that to 47 distinct endings, all preserved in Hemingway’s papers—including one suggested by F. Scott Fitzgerald. A 2012 edition of the novel includes them all, and while only the final few lines are altered, the tone and implication of the ending is often completely transformed between variations.

    Matilda, by Roald Dahl
    Matilda is one of Dahl’s best-loved novels, the story of a precocious little girl whose intellectual prowess is stymied by schoolwork way beneath her abilities, triggering the development of temporary telekinesis, which she uses it to play pranks on the mean-spirited school headmistress and help her kind-hearted teacher, Miss Honey. The ending is a bit abrupt—Matilda’s awful parents are implicated in an elaborate fraud scheme and go on the run from the police, disinterestedly giving her permission to live with Miss Honey instead—but Dahl’s early manuscripts reveal a much darker ending in which Matilda dies. In that early version her pranks are a little meaner, as well, demonstrating an overall different tone.

    Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
    Dickens actually revised the ending to this classic novel twice. The original ending had Pip meet Estella—but she has remarried after Drummle’s death, and thus there is no chance of a happy ending. Dickens liked this ending because it was unexpected and went against convention. However, he was persuaded its melancholy tone was uncommercial, so he altered it to something very close to the modern ending, wherein Estella is widowed but not remarried, and indicates she now sees Pip as a potential future. His final revision was to finesse the famous line “I saw no shadow of another parting from her” into its current form in order to make it slightly more ambiguous.

    Rinkitink in Oz, by L. Frank Baum
    Baum wrote 14 Oz books in his lifetime, and dozens of official entries in the series have been penned by others. Like many authors of successful series, Baum tried to do something different, only to come back to Oz because the books sold well. The 10th installment, Rinkitink in Oz, is often considered an outlier—albeit a very good one—because 90 percent of the story takes place outside of Oz; Dorothy only appears suddenly at the very end to give the heroes a tour of Oz. The reason for this is simple: it was originally written a decade earlier as a standalone fairy tale with no connection to Oz whatsoever. In need of a new Oz book and exhausted after a particularly busy few years of writing, Baum dusted off King Rinkitink, rewrote the ending with a bit of Ozness injected, and published it. The good news is, it’s one of the best stories in the series.

    If John Green had gone with the shootout ending, would The Fault in Our Stars still be as beloved? Discuss below.


    The post 5 Beloved Novels That Almost Had Very Different Endings appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ginni Chen 7:00 pm on 2014/09/08 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , great expectations, , , i know why the caged bird sings, , , , , , , ,   

    Which Famous Author Should Be Your Roommate? 

    Ernest HemingwayIt’s well known that some of the world’s foremost literary geniuses have some peculiar personalities and strange writing habits. We all have our quirks, but for men and women of the quill, these quirks are writ especially large. Some are hard drinkers and partiers, some are recluses waiting for inspiration to strike, still others are wildly productive but beset by personal demons. Even if you love someone’s books, do you ever wonder if could you actually live with the artist behind them?

    Take this quiz and see which master wordsmith you should actually live with, and which might be a cohabitational nightmare. After all, there’s nothing like sharing a living space to help you really get know someone!

    1. You and your ideal famous author roommate are decorating.  What goes over the mantlepiece?
    a. Mounted antlers from the prize buck you shot.<
    b. A lavish 19th-century still-life painting of a bountiful feast.
    c. A typewriter and some detective novels.
    d. The first dollar you ever earned.
    e. Eclectic artwork collected from your travels.
    f. Ashtrays, empty bottles, pencil nubs, scrap paper.

    2. What best describes your ideal housewarming party?
    a. Grilling some meat, followed by bourbon, scotch, dry martinis, absinthe…
    b. A costume ball with a ten course meal and wine pairings.
    c. An afternoon garden party.
    d. A rollicking dinner party with an impromptu reading from your new book.
    e. A quiet gathering of friends with some good sherry and card games.
    f. Something fabulous, with celebrities, artists, socialites and lots of gin.

    3. It’s a random Tuesday night. You and your ideal roommate are:
    a. Sparring in boxing gloves.
    b. Living it up at the hottest restaurant in town.
    c. You have no idea where your roommate is. She disappeared a few days ago.
    d. Going for a long walk late into the night, hoping to get lost.
    e. Doing crossword puzzles.
    f. At the Plaza Hotel, holding court and gossiping with the jet-set crowd of New York.

    4. You don’t mind if your apartment is full of:
    a. Cats
    b. Mistresses
    c. Newspaper clippings of strange crimes
    d. I would mind if my apartment were full of anything. I’m kind of a neat freak.
    e. Books, art and good food.
    f. Cigarette smoke and famous people.

    5. What’s your work style?
    a. “Done by noon, drunk by three.” In other words, efficient in the morning and then, not so much.
    b. I work every spare second of the day on color-coded paper.
    c. In the bathtub, munching apples. Or wherever the mood strikes me.
    d. I’m always on the go. Walking helps me think.
    e. I prefer to work in an empty room with nothing no distractions.
    f. I can’t work unless I’m lying down, smoking and drinking.

    If you chose mostly A’s, you should live with…Ernest Hemingway.
    Nobel prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway was notoriously a “manly” man.  An accomplished outdoorsman, he went on big-game hunting safaris in Africa and won marlin-fishing contests in the Caribbean. A passionate boxer, Hemingway built his own boxing ring in his Key West home to spar with guests and friends. In between these activities, Hemingway woke early each day to meet his self-imposed quota of 500 words.  He wrote them standing up at his typewriter, and said he was always “done by noon, drunk by three.”

    If you chose mostly B’s, you should live with…Alexandre Dumas.
    The man behind The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo was an extravagant bon vivant, partial to elaborate feasts, wine and women. A gourmand and an accomplished cook, Dumas traveled extensively, hosted parties, entertained a string of mistresses and fathered many illegitimate children, yet he still managed to find time to write prolifically. He color-coded his writing on different kinds of paper, writing his fiction novels on blue paper, penning poetry on yellow paper and composing articles on pink.

    If you chose mostly C’s, you should live with…Agatha Christie.
    Best-selling mystery novelist Dame Agatha Christie, who penned Murder on the Orient Express and the play The Mousetrap, drew inspiration from newspaper articles about interesting true crimes. She’d clip them out and muse over them, eventually concocting an elaborate murder for Hercule Poirot or Miss Jane Marple to solve. She became the subject of a real life mystery herself when she abandoned her car and disappeared for 11 days. When found, Christie had no recollection of what she’d done and where she’d been. As a writer, Christie liked to think up her mysteries in the bathtub while eating apples. She wrote whenever the mood struck her and would set her typewriter down wherever she happened to be.

    If you chose mostly D’s, you should live with…Charles Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, author of classics such as Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities, rose to fame and fortune from a hard-scrabble childhood in poverty. Thought to have obsessive-compulsive disorder, Dickens was known for combing his hair over a hundred times a day, cleaning his home obsessively, and even cleaning the homes of his friends. A gregarious and witty man, Dickens excelled at public speaking and enjoyed giving public readings of his books. An insomniac, Dickens spent his nights walking for miles at a time, hoping that the process of getting lost would inspire his creative juices.

    If you chose mostly E’s, you should live with…Maya Angelou.
    The recently departed Maya Angelou, who wrote I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, freely shared her writing ritual with the world—she’d go to an empty hotel room every day, after requesting that the hotel staff remove any paintings, artwork or distractions from the room. She’d then stay in the room and write until 2 p.m. with only a Bible, a thesaurus, a bottle of sherry, a deck of cards and some crossword puzzles.  At 2 p.m., she would return home and edit her morning’s work. Unlike her sparse hotel room, Angelou’s home was filled with artwork and books collected from her travels. She was not only a decorated writer, but a talented cook, dancer, singer, actress, and a prominent civil rights activist.

    If you chose mostly F’s, you should live with…Truman Capote.
    The author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood was known for his star-studded social life, his grand parties and his lifelong friendship with To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee. Capote famously threw the Black and White Ball, a masquerade ball at the Plaza Hotel that everybody who was anybody attended, unless Capote deliberately wanted to snub them. He ran with an eclectic mix of celebrities in New York, including actors, artists, socialites and business tycoons, but he was not partial to many fellow writers. Capote claimed to be a “completely horizontal author” and could only write lying down. He’d spend the day supine, drafting his work in longhand and in pencil, while armed with a cigarette and a drink. Even when writing on a typewriter, Capote preferred to remain horizontal and balance the machine on his knees.

    Which of your favorite authors would you like to live with? 

  • Ginni Chen 5:00 pm on 2014/06/23 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , great expectations, , , ignatius reilly, , jay gatsby, jean valjean, , lisbeth salander, , miss havisham, , , , , , , ,   

    If Famous Literary Characters Had Online Dating Profiles 

    9780802130204_p0_v1_s600It seems like all my friends are looking for love online these days. Whether they’re searching for the One or just the One Right Now, they all know that perfecting their online dating profile is a big deal. Your profile has to be honest about who you are, but not too honest. It has to make you seem quirky, memorable, and unique, but not too weird. It has to sell, but only to the right people. It’s the difference between an outright online rejection and a life-changing date with your soulmate. It’s a lot of pressure to put on a single piece of writing.

    So to take some of that pressure off, let’s see how some of our favorite fictional characters would fare at online dating in this day and age:

    Jay Gatsby (The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald)
    Profile Photo: Profile of his face looking out over the water, a greenish glow in the distance
    Location: 22 miles from NYC
    About Jay: I’m a go-getter, a self-made man. I work hard, play hard, party even harder. I like to throw big parties, the bigger the better, the more the merrier. I may have nice clothes, nice cars, and 99 bottles of Dom, but deep down I’m just a sensitive, small-town guy. I’m a dreamer, I don’t drink, and I treat girls right. I’ve been burned by love before, though, so let’s take it slow.

    Ignatius Reilly (A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole)
    Profile Photo: Scowling at camera near a hot dog stand, traces of mustard on chin
    Location: New Orleans
    About Ignatius: If you’re reading this, then you’ve fallen for the mockery I’m making of this depraved modern mating ritual. Send forth a welcoming missive and I’ll grace your feeble mind with the musings of my godlike one. I’ll read aloud my lengthy indictment of our debased times and tantalize your pyloric valve with an impeccable cheese dip. Must love dogs, food, movies, Batman, and Boethius. Must deplore mainstream society and the prevalent tasteless culture.

    Miss Havisham (Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens)
    Profile Photo: Sitting in an armchair in a wedding dress
    Location: Satis House, England
    About Miss Havisham: My adopted daughter Estella told me it was time to “get back in the game,” so here I am. Seeking an honest, reliable, and independently wealthy man who won’t swindle me. I’m a homebody and I don’t go out ever, so you’ll have to come visit me in my manse. There’s plenty of cake here, though.

    The Cat in the Hat (The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss)
    Profile Photo: Hat, bowtie, balancing lots of items while riding a unicycle
    Location: Seussville
    About The Cat:
    I’m the Cat in the Hat and I speak in rhyme
    Let’s go on a date and have a good time.
    I’m great with kids and I’m always fun
    Just hoping that you might be The One.

    Emma Bovary (Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert)
    Profile Photo: A montage of various duck-face selfies
    Location: Rouen, France
    About Emma: I love shopping, dancing, going to the opera, gossiping, and having fun. Haute couture and romance novels are my faves. Hate being poor and bored. Love meeting new people and I especially LOVE falling in love. I’m married, but it sucks and I’m looking for romance and excitement elsewhere. If you’re the Prince Charming I’m looking for, message me. Also, please be rich. xoxoxox.

    Lisbeth Salander (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy, by Stieg Larsson)
    Profile Photo: None
    Location: Stockholm, or anywhere in the world
    About Lisbeth: I know your address. I know where you went to school. I know everything about you and everything you do. I’m a hacker extraordinaire with a dark side, an even darker childhood history, and a vigilante sense of justice. I have a soft spot, though, and I’d like to share that with someone special, guy or girl. If you exploit my soft spot, be afraid. Be very afraid…

    Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen)
    Profile Photo: Laughing with sisters and holding a book
    Location: Meryton, England
    About Elizabeth: Mama has beseeched me to venture online to better acquaint myself with eligible, well-appointed bachelors. Her mind ever points towards marriage opportunities, whereas mine delights in the ridiculousness of this online dating endeavor. Dear Suitors, I am a good walker.

    Jean Valjean (Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo)
    Profile Photo: Charcoal sketch by Émile Bayard
    Location: Paris, France
    About Jean: Who am I? Who am I? Can I pretend I’m not the man I was before? Some see me as an ex-convict who broke parole, but I’m truly a good guy who just took a few wrong turns. I am now a successful business owner, an adoptive father, and a humanitarian. I’m well read, God-fearing, and boy can I sing!

    What other literary characters would you like to see with online dating profiles?

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