Rogue reissues of books (was Abarat, etc)

minnow at minnow at
Thu Apr 24 07:29:34 EDT 2003

Paul reacted with alarm to my information that:

>> Some rats once brought out what purported to be Masefield's *The
>> Midnight Folk*, and among other even longer cuts condensed the
>> whole paragraph about how awful it was when Sir Theopompus came
>> over and there was a lovely dinner but no contentment therewith,
>> to the bald sentence "Kay did not like his guardian."
>I'm glad that I have a copy of _The Midnight Folk_ of my very own, so
>there's no danger of me ever accidentally buying that edition.

The best is the Puffin with the illustrations.  The hardback first, which I
found and bought very cheap in a jumble sale, doesn't have them, which is a
bit sad.

>(Do you think the cuts were made to make the story less obviously of a
>particular time and place?)

I suspect Them of just thinking it was "too hard for the kiddies", the
crothounds.  It has a *quotation* in it and so the Little Ones might feel
left out if they didn't know the source, or something.  But They also if I
recall did away with the invisible mouse pushing the half-eaten sugarlump
across the dressing-table, which I thought was just meanness on Their part.
It was a shorter, duller and less enchanting work, I do know that, but
obviously I don't have it to refer to.

>Speaking of buying books as presents and then discovering they've been
>altered (as you were in one of the bits I snipped)... a while ago now,
>I came across a copy of _The Once and Future King_ and, rather than
>selfishly keep it myself, I gave it to my brother as a christmas
>present pour encourager les reading of classic literature.

Noble fellow that you are :-)

>It was only when he started reading it that I discovered that the
>version of _The Sword in the Stone_ contained therein was different to
>the one with which I was familiar, and was missing most of my
>favourite bits. My brother and I were both particularly annoyed by the
>discovery that Madam Mym had been left out completely.

Yes, drat him, THW re-wrote *The Sword in the Stone* for the collected
volume, and it has Chapter Six reduced to about two pages.  But trying to
keep track of where various bits of TSITS are is terrible hard work and I
can never be sure which version has the Ants and which has the Geese and
which has the port being called methaglin or Pellinore saying "Ay say"
instead of "I say" and whether the boys are hunting a griffin or
anthropophagi with Robin Hood.

Like I said, THW re-wrote almost everything each time it was re-printed, as
far as I can make out.  I know someone who has tried to get every single
version of each book, and has scads of them each slightly different.  Even
the British and American first editions of *The Witch in the Wood*, which
was called in anyway about a year later because he completely re-wrote it
as *The Queen of Air and Darkness* for the collected single-volume OAFK,
are not quite the same: he has shifted paragraphs around slightly and
altered bits of sentences here and there or added a few words.  It's worse
than Yeats' poetry for that.  Never finished, or at least never final.

Still wonderful, mind!


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