Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Naming of Novels

Have you read any of the following novels : Trimalchio in West Egg, Baa! Baa! Black Sheep, The Last Man in Europe, A Jewish Patient Begins his Analysis?

Well, actually you might have done ... because these are the working titles for novel which became world famous under different names. (In order:- The Great Gatsby, Gone with the Wind, 1984, and Portnoy's Complaint.

Robert McCrum ponders the issue of naming a novel in The Observer today. Of all the tasty morsels of ephemera he digs up, this is my favourite :
Sometimes ... there are two books with the same title. When I was editorial director at Faber, Peter Carey delivered his first novel under the title "Waiting For the Barbarians". Publication plans were well advanced when we discovered that JM Coetzee was launching his new novel with that same quotation from Cavafy. Eventually, Carey's novel was published as Bliss. It did very well.
The Telegraph has been featuring a series of short articles by Gary Dexter about how some very famous books got their names, including Conrad's Lord Jim,Ford Maddox Ford's The Good Soldier, and Moon Palace by Paul Auster. Fascinating!


Lisha Ojun said...

Hi Sharon,
I was at your talk in the Arts House. Not sure how to email you so I'm dropping a comment here. I'm experimenting with the concept cross-blogging with other writers who blog about books and writing and I'm wondering if you'll be interested in some sort of a collaboration? This is my blog:

bibliobibuli said...

hi Lisha. would love to talk about collaborating and will drop by your blog. my email is