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brianmartin

Gurglings of a Putrid Stream

Thoughts on books and other assorted topics.

See also:  http://goppf.wikidot.com/swstart

My name:  Brian Martin

Rooked, Cheated, and Screwed

Here's what happened, a hundred years ago. First, Bram Stoker published his book, The Jewel of Seven Stars. The book evidently received quite a bit of flak for the gruesomeness of its ending. Still, the book was republished the following year. However, when Stoker wanted to publish it yet again before he died, he was able to do so only on condition that he change the ending. The original ending wasn't restored until 1978 -- and then only in the Penguin Classics edition. All other editions, apparently, retain the revised ending. All of this occurred in the background, of course, and the only way a reader would know it is if he or she read up on the book beforehand.

So here I am in 2014, completely unaware, reading my Carroll & Graf edition, expecting the story to go one way, only to grow increasingly impatient as the remaining pages dwindled and the story moved off in a completely different direction. The book is classified as "horror," but when I finished it -- that is, when I finished the children's edition -- my first thought was that it wasn't horror at all, but really more of a supernatural romance. Which was puzzling, to say the least. I can't say for sure since I haven't read the original ending, but that's the degree to which this book may have been changed: from horror to romance. And either way, the ending is a dramatic letdown, one that neither follows from the preceding text nor has much power of its own.

Reading this was, to me, like finishing a book only to then find out that it's an abridgment. I felt cheated.

Who to blame? Much as I hate to say it, Stoker deserves a large part of the blame for (a) agreeing to make the change in the first place and (b) for writing such an awful replacement ending. Maybe the original ending was bad, too, but at least it would have been consistent.

Subsequent publishers -- Penguin excepted -- also share the ignominy. Not for printing the book with the new ending -- they can print what they choose to print -- but for not informing the readers what they're getting. If for no other reason, such disclosure was necessary in this case because, literarily, the revised book is flawed. And then if they shelve it in the horror section, they're guilty of false advertisement.