reading the REAL book

When T.H. White incorporated The Sword in the Stone into his epic The Once and Future King, he changed it a LOT. He took away a lot of the chatty asides, removed a lot of the more blatant magic, and purged Madame Mim altogether. It’s like a completely different book.
Read it. In fact, if you can get them, read both. Disney’s Sword in the Stone doesn’t do it justice. Neither does the musical Camelot. Not by a long shot. Especially the folm version.

If you’ve only read the paperback version of Betty Smith’s Maggie-Now, try to find the original hardcover. Much longer and deeper characterizations and story. It’s out of print, but I found one at a library book sale.

Ohhh yes. One of my summer students, in a presentation in front of the entire class, started talking about “the part where Beowulf is seduced by Grendel’s mother” :smack:

The best part was that the presentations were supposed to be about the students’ term-papers-in-progress. Yes. The kid was dumb enough to try to write a paper about a work she hadn’t read.

I hope she had the good sense to be embarrassed when her classmates pointed out the obvious, but she may have been shameless.

Several years ago, this came into my life and while it isn’t perfect, the book paid for itself the very next day after I cracked it open and perused some story condensed.

My old a-hole boss-hag had made some supposedly witty remark about whatever book she viewed as Literary Greatness that week she was quite smarmy. and I happened to have read the summary on it in the GABB. I can’t remember what I said, but I pretty much quoted the book and it just shut her up.

I really need to dig it out again and put it in my bathroom and find newer volumes. It isn’t the same, but it gives you the gist of a buttload of fiction/non fiction and other Big titles.

Well, the folm version sucks, but it’s sheer brilliance compared to the awfulness that is the film version. :stuck_out_tongue:

I had kind of the opposite experience. In 6th grade, under circumstances I don’t quite remember, I wound up picking “Gulliver’s Travels” off the shelf for my book report. What it was doing on a 6th-grade classroom bookshelf, I have no idea, but it was definitely not a “Children’s Version.” Suffice to say, 18th Century social satire was just a wee bit over my 11-year-old head.

I read it again many years later in college English Lit, and said, “Oh, now I get it!”

It’s more complicated than that, even. After The Once and Future King was published, White had some ideas for a couple of other things Merlin could turn Arthur into (the geese and the ants), and published them as a standalone book The Book of Merlin, which inexplicably set those transformations at the end of Arthur’s life. Then, he went back to the Sword in the Stone section of tOaFK and edited those two transformations into the existing narrative for a later edition of the book. So there’s at least three versions of tSitS: The original stand-alone children’s book, the version edited into the first section of tOaFK, and the tOaFK version with the added Book of Merlin material.

A hah! So that’s the book I read where Arthur gets turned into an ant and a goose. I read it as a child and then when thinking upon it as an adult, I realized that I had no idea what the darn thing was called. This made discussing it with people who weren’t familiar with it kind of tricky. :slight_smile:

So thanks for filling in a very old blank.

Oh, and FWIW, that book totally blew my mind as a kid. The Arthurian weirdness aside, it was such an extraordinary experience in seeing the world through a different perspective that it had a huge impact on my young and impressionable mind. To this day, I’m obsessed with seeing things from as many different poitns of view as I can. I’m a perspective junkie.

As this topic unfolds, it occurs to me that the relationship between seeing the movie and reading the book very closely parallels the “reading the REAL book” from my OP, except, of course, that you know you’re getting a different version from the original when you go from book to movie or vice versa.

When I was a wee lad, I got the novelization of the movie Tron for Xmas. I’d never seen the movie, but I read that thing over and over. I loved that book! And particularly tantalizing was the colorful stills from the movie that were included in the book. I looked voer these over and over, and made myself dizzy with anticipation of how much more glorious an experience it must be to see this amazing movie.

But the VCR revolution was a long time coming and I didn’t manage to actually see the thing until I was in my late teens.

Of course, it was bound to disappoint. Nothing could possibly have lived up to the version of the story I had built up in my mind.

Now, of course, when I meet a Tron fan, they’ve never even heard of the book, so there’s no point even mentioning my disappointment.

These are the dangers of novelizations! :slight_smile:

Funny you shoud bring Monte Cristo up. For Christmas, I got a gift card to Barnes & Noble. To fill out the card, I decided to the get a few of the Barnes & Noble classics, one of which was The Count of Monte Cristo. The cover didn’t say abriged, so I thought I was fine. It wasn’t until a couple weeks ago when I picked it up to read did I notice the title page saying it was abriged. The intro made it seem like all that was dropped was “dull and repetitive dialouge”, but as I read it, it became clear that whole plots where dropped (notably the Cavalcanti stuff & I think most of the Haydee stuff). The end product was pretty disjointed and kind of frustrating. After finishing the book and reading online discussions, nearly half the book was cut. :smack:

For all that, I enjoyed the book, and plan on reading the full version.

And for the opposite effect, I once walked to every bookstore between Eglinton Avenue and Queen Street along Yonge Street, (about 7 km) looking for a copy of the novel “The Princess Bride” that didn’t say ‘Abridged by William Goldman’. F#$k that, I thought, I want to read the whole thing.

Finally, I thought to ask in Bakka why all the copies I had found were abridged. The salesman was very helpful after he stopped laughing at me…

Gulliver’s Travels
I’m just saying, a lot more middle-school boys would be reading it if they didn’t cut out the scenes with the Brodingnabian ladies-in-waiting.

To be fair I think that trips a lot of people up.

Aha! I couldn’t figure out where the ants had gone when I read The Sword in the Stone to my kids last year. The ants were the part I remembered best, and they just weren’t there–did I make them up or what?

We had a bookcase full of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books when I was a kid. Once I learned what “condensed” really meant, you can bet I hied myself to the library to read the full versions of the “books” I thought I had read in full. It was pretty cool getting to read even MORE of each story.

It’s an honest mistake. I didn’t get the joke until I read the intro, where he talks about his life and his psychologist wife and his fat kid and whatnot.

So it wasn’t nice or fair of the book clerk to laugh at you!

Wait a sec, you mean “A Tale of a City” and “The Two Musketeers” were missing something?

I’m confused – The Book of Merlin was first published posthuimosly by University of Texas Press, long after his 1964 death. My copy of The Once and Future King (also from long after his death) still has the transformations.
The Wikipedia page only notes the differences between the version in the tetralogy, not a third version:

This exact thing. Also 3 musketeers. I was pumped when i figured out i was reading the abridged versions, it was like having two whole new Dumas books to read!

A while ago, I decided to fill a gap in my education and read “Black Beauty”. Then I noticed it was the “young readers” version, or some such. It was still pretty sad for all that. I got the worst of both worlds.

I’ve actually be opposed to my children reading “young reader” editions of the classics. They read well above their grade levels, i figured they could read the real thing when they were ready for it rather than the bastardized version. I’ve seen kids think they’ve read a book when all they read was some publishing house rewrite and I was afraid of my kids doing the same thing.

It seems I’ve been doing them a disservice. I’ll be relaxing on that now.