Thursday, June 6, 2013

Classic Books' Original Titles

A few weeks ago the Huffington Post had an article that I found interesting and lots of fun to contemplate --  “24 Classic Books’ Original Titles.”  To give credit where credit is due, the Women’s National Book Assoc, NYC chapter linked the article to their blog, and that’s where I read it. Of course, it made me think of my own novel, Flourish, and what the title might become when it’s published. Did you notice I wrote “when,” and not “if?” No, I don’t have an agent or publisher yet, but I believe as my character Liz also believes, you’ve got to send your wants, dreams, or desires out to the universe – put them out there, don’t just hold them closed up inside you like a secret. So I always say “when,” just as Tara Conklin’s husband did. Who is Tara Conklin, you ask? The author of a terrific book, House Girl.  In her acknowledgments, Conklin thanked her husband for always saying “when” and not “if.” He was obviously her cheerleader.   Actually, I do believe in that philosophy (and also in cheerleaders), but realize I can’t just leave those wants and desires out there in the universe. I’ve got to be pro-active, like going to writing conferences and Book Expo America where I walked my feet off last week and met agents and publishers and a whole bunch of interesting people – and came home with piles of new books!

Back to original titles... My first title for Flourish was From Grapevine to Finished Wine, but that sounded more like a how-to book on making wine.  I came up with the present title after thinking about what actually happened to the women in the novel. Like the grapevines, they also flourished– they created new identities for themselves. Bobbie never imagined herself a winemaker, she just refused to be cooped up in a blouse factory like the other women in her family, and Susan, Ilene, and Sandra only came to help out in the vineyard, part-time, while their kids were in school. They never expected to have a career in the wine business.  The women  were like the grapes they nurtured. They grew, ripened, and matured and became “finished wine.” For more on Flourish, visit my website where you can read the first chapter.

 Just as art work on book covers are important, so are titles. Both can make you pick up a book and want to buy it or pull it from the library’s shelf, or never put your hands on it at all. And the title also can be an enigma causing you to wonder what in the world the author was thinking of when she came up with that particular name. Some titles create great discussion points for book clubs, and some are so obvious. Here are a few of the original titles from some of the classics listed in the Huffington Post article.

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four was originally titled The Last Man in Europe.

Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov, was originally titled The Kingdom by the Sea.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway was originally Fiesta.

War and Peace, the tome by Leo Tolstoy, was All’s Well That Ends Well. (a little of Shakespeare???)

Ayn’s Rand’s The Fountainhead was originally Second-Hand Lives.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding was titled Strangers from Within.

 For fun, I’m presenting a little quiz of original titles here. Dig into your memories. Think of books you read in school or as a child. See if you can come up with the title of the published book from the original titles that never made it onto the books’ covers.  And please, post your answers below. Let’s see how many you can get. I'll let you know if you're correct and I promise, no grades here. No A's, B's, F's. That would only raise your blood pressure!
        What book was originally titled Ulysses in Dublin?
       First Impressions was the original title for which classic novel set in England?
       What book was originally titled Atticus?
       On the Road to West Egg was the original title for which classic novel?
      Mistress Mary was the original title to what children’s book? (my favorite)
 Think. Have fun. Let’s see your answers.





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