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Thread: Hardy's revisions of his books

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Hardy's revisions of his books

    I was bothered to find that Hardy seems to have revised his novels quite radically after they had first been published. It is understandable that he might wish to restore his stories to how he originally meant them to be, after they had first been published serially in magazines. Magazine publishers would often want to censor anything that might be controversial. In a way, serialization in magazine format is like one media and book form another. You would not expect a film adaption to be exactly like the book. However the problem is that between one edition of one of his books and another there can be significant changes. The book I am thinking of in particular is Tess of the d'Urbervilles. I suspect the version most read is based on the 1912 edition. The book I read was the Clarendon edition, which I think is probably pretty similar to the 1912 edition. However, I think the Penguin English Library version is based on the 1891 edition. I suppose this is all right when you know, but it is usually not obvious when you buy the book. I read that Hardy substantially revised many of his books in 1895. He wanted them to fit in better into his Wessex world. So if I buy a Thomas Hardy book, how do I know whether it is the original story or the revised story? If I discuss the book with someone else, how do I know we are discussing the same thing?

    It's similar to when a film director releases a director's cut of one of his earlier films. For example, I prefer the director's cut of Bladerunner, but the changes alter everything. If you discuss the film with someone else, you have to establish which version you are talking about. I don't think that matters so much when it is well known that there are different versions of the same work, but you can't be expected to know that with 19th century literature.

    Did other authors routinely change their stories after the first edition came out in book form? I know Dickens made some slight changes to the last sentence of Great Expectations after the first edition. He completely changed the last chapter, but the original ending did not make it into print. George Gissing would have liked to revise his novels. He revised one when he translated New Grub Street into French. He thought many of his books could do with pruning and polishing, because he had been constrained by time pressures and the requirement to comply with the three volume format preferred by publishers, when he first wrote them.
    Last edited by kev67; 05-04-2013 at 07:19 PM.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I have just checked various editions of Far From the Madding Crowd. The Penguin English Library version is, I think, based on the 1874 edition. The Oxford World's Classic version, I think, includes most of Hardy's later alterations, which are significant. The cheap Collins I recently bought to read is based on the 1912 edition. I just read that Hardy was making alterations to Far From the Madding Crowd right up to the time of his death.

    I thought Hardy stopped writing books to concentrate on poetry after all the controversy that Tess of the d'Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure attracted. It seems he was not only writing poetry but re-writing all his old books.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Well, recanting should be far more common than it is. But look at what happened to Wittgenstein. When he recanted, it was already too late. LOL. Some of his followers were defending what he had instituted as if they were the authorities themselves. What about the guy who discovered the probabilities in DNA? Later on, in many trials, he could not make some of the idiots accept it as such. Many wanted it to count as absolute evidence.

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