5 Authors who edited their books after publication

The image of novelists as always true to their own spirit and impervious to the words of critics is a powerful image – however, the history of fiction shows that sometimes, the great writer not too immune to external criticism… keep practicing. Here are five authors who rewrote previously published books to get critical feedback, changed their minds, or to restore their original content.

A picture of Mary Shelley sitting at a desk writing.

Mary Shelley. /Hulton Archive/GettyImages

Mary Shelley Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus—first published when he was just 20 years old—it became the most popular of supernatural fiction. What is less well known is that the book changed in many ways between that first edition, published anonymously in 1818, and a new edition written by Shelley in 1831.

Part of the reason for the change was a contract: the publisher of the 1831 book made a purchase of the books near the end of their copy, with the author writing to updates if possible, then try to increase the copyright protection.

But modern scientists agree that the biggest change is personal harm. According to Professor Anne K. Mellor of UCLA, between 1818 and 1831, two of Shelley’s children died, as did her husband Percy, and one of her closest friends turned on her—he After all, Mellor writes, “Mary Shelley believed that human events are determined not by personal choice or free will but by fate or destiny. Ultimately, even in the age 1818 Victor Frankenstein select to do what was done out of hubris and his free will, in 1831 he was at the mercy of forces beyond his control. [PDF].

A portrait of George Eliot;  the writer is looking sideways and has his hand on his cheek.

George Eliot. / London Stereoscopic Company/GettyImages

The result of George Eliot Middlemarch (1871) is one of his best-known essays, with a good description of Dorothea’s intense character (“Her full nature, like that river whose strength Cyrus broke, became her down the rivers of no great name in the world.”), and the final lines, which inspired the title of Terrence Malick’s film A Hidden Life (“[F]or the growth of the world’s quality depends on non-traditional activities; and you and I will not have as much disease as they have, it is half for the number of people who live a secret life, and rest in unknown tombs “). But the version that people are familiar with today is not the original: The original version of MiddlemarchThe result is much longer and contains some details that are not found in the text we are reading today. Why did Eliot revise the ending after it was first published?

The eminent critic Richard Holt Hutton wrote in highly laudatory terms Middlemarch when the last episode was published, but he criticized the effects of the ending – in particular a community message in the story that “laughed” at a marriage between an old man and with a young woman, when the first parts of the book really explained their disapproval of the group.

“[T]He said that “the world laughs at the idea of ​​a sick man marrying a girl less than half his own age, that the story itself has no real basis,” in wrote the critic. [PDF]. “When Mr. Brooke, Dorothea’s father, weakly took Mr. Casaubon to Dorothea, he went with her with the intention of casting as far as possible to use the imperfect form. Dorothea’s sister, Celia, heard it with terrible horror of contempt, which hurt Dorothea deeply. If the Rector’s wife, Mrs. Cadwallader, in the opinion of the county (and who could represent it better?), the whole company disagreed.

Hutton wrote extensively on Eliot’s first novel Romola—something that made him very happy [PDF]—and his admiration for her attitude changed his decision to write again MiddlemarchThe end of removing these inconsistencies, which have also been noticed by others.

A portrait of Henry James

Henry James. / Reginald Haines/GettyImages

Henry James The Portrait of a Lady (first published in book form in 1881), is the story of Isabel Archer, her unhappy marriage, and the other men who love her, including Caspar Goodwood. It ends on an ambiguous note, when Caspar comes to visit Isabel only to be told by his friend Henrietta that he has left to travel abroad, ending with the conversation exchange between Henrietta and Caspar: “‘Look, Mr. Goodwood.’ said he; ‘just wait!’ and he looked at her.

What this means is open to interpretation, but Richard Holt Hutton, writes in The Gift, believes that James is certain that Isabel will leave her husband for Caspar: She must “wait,” as Henrietta had promised. At the time, many people thought it shameful for a woman to leave her husband (despite how the husband treated her badly), and Hutton was outraged by what he believed to be the way the results.

James appears to have read Hutton’s reviews, and when he revised the book in 1906, he made many changes to the text. One of the biggest changes is the change in the ending to explain that Isabel has no intention of getting together with Caspar, and only Henrietta’s words convince her that she should move on. The last part reads: “There he looked at her – but only to think, from his face, with anger, that he was young. He stood up to her with that humble comfort, and he added thirty years to his life. He went with him, as if he had now given him the key of patience.

Novelist Evelyn Waugh sits at a desk, writing, glasses in hand.

Evelyn Waugh. / Library of Congress/GettyImages

Brideshead is back It is the story for which Evelyn Waugh is best known, but the first edition, published in 1945, differs in some respects from today’s version. At first, Waugh was happy with the overwhelming critical response, dismissing those who disliked it, stating that “Most of the reviews are adulatory except for one. angered by the class.”

However, Waugh’s doubts gradually emerged, and he later wrote to a friend that “everything those critics said was right” and promised to revise the book, which he did. in 1959. Some famous lines, among them his original description of Oxford as “the soft vapors of a thousand years of learning,” were replaced in the revised version with ” the tender airs of the centuries of youth.” In addition, this version undermines some of the nostalgia of the first, due to the way of life that Waugh believed in 1945 to be destroyed (like keeping the lands (largely in England), has always been determined by fate. 1950s.

A photo of Joan Lindsay.

Joan Lindsay Picnic on the hanging rock (first published in 1967) tells the story of a group of students and their teacher who go missing while visiting a quarry in Victoria, Australia, on Valentine’s Day in the year 1900 .the loss is not over.

But the version of the novel is different. Lindsay has already written another chapter that reveals the reason for the women’s disappearance: a mysterious event that opened a hole in the rock; three of the girls went inside, and the crack in the stone closed again. When Lindsay took the book to the editors for consideration, some felt that the book would actually be improved by including this explanation. Lindsay agreed, and the book was published without fail.

However, Lindsay himself still wanted to reveal the result, and finally gave his agent the document of the missing chapter, asking to have it after his death. In 1987, the final chapter, intended to be the 18th chapter in the original novel, was published as a self-titled work. The Secret of the Slave Rock. But critical opinion was divided on the merits of explaining the mystery, and the new chapter was not included in the whole story. The most widely read version of the book today is the version that omits chapter 18 and leaves the story unresolved.

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