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What's in a name?

In this weeks Observer (Review) there was a short article about how 'literary history could have been dramatically different if some classics had been published under their working titles'.

The article then proceeds to name some examples, some I had heard before and others that were new to me:

"The Great Gatsby" - "Trimalchio in West Egg" or "The High-Bouncing Lover"

"Nineteen Eighty Four" - "The Last Man in Europe"

"Portnoy's Complaint" - "A Jewish Patient Begins his Analysis"

"The Waste Land" - "He Do the Police in Different Voices"

and my favourite...

"Gone With the Wind" - "Baa! Baa! Black Sheep"

I don't doubt for a minute that you well read lot know of a few others so, if you are able, please share them.



"He Do the Police in Different Voices" is a brilliant title, I think - far more interesting than "The Waste Land". (That discarded title is a quote from Dickens' Our Mutual Friend.)

The two Shakespeare plays now known as Henry IV Part Two and Henry IV Part Three were originally published with the titles  The First Part of the Contention of the Two Famous Houses of York and Lancaster with the Death of the Good Duke Humphrey (phew!) and The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York, and the Good King Henry the Sixth.

I'd certainly heard of Trimalchio in West Egg.

"He do the police in different voices" is, if memory serves, a quotation from Our Mutual Friend's Betty Higden, talking about Sloppy reading the paper. I believe Ezra Pound persuaded Eliot to change the title. I wonder if it would have its status as a landmark of modernism if Eliot had stuck to his guns...

As for Portnoy's Complaint, the original title, though a decent joke in itself, might have spoilt the final punchline Smile

The High Bouncing Lover?   Makes The Great Gatsby sound a completely different kind of book!


       Big Readers Forum Index -> Things that don't fit anywhere else
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