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text 2019-12-11 22:20
24 Festive Tasks: Door 14 - St. Nicholas' Day / Sinterklaas: Task 3
And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Gryffindor Edition - ROWLING J.K.
Death of a Fool (St. Martin's Dead Letter Mysteries) - Ngaio Marsh
Anna, Where Are You? - Patricia Wentworth
Envious Casca - Georgette Heyer
Murder in the Snow: A Cotswold Christmas Mystery - Gladys Mitchell
Supernavigators: Exploring the Wonders of How Animals Find Their Way - David Barrie
La Reine Margot - Alexandre Dumas
The Dykemaster - Theodor Storm
Raquel, the Jewess of Toledo: A Spanish Ballad - Lion Feuchtwanger

Aaah -- the "different title" trap, how I hate it.  There is precisely one example of a title change that resonates with me (Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, which was originally published as Ten Little Niggers and, alternatively, Ten Little Indians), but with this one exception, I can't think of a single title change that actually serves my interests as a reader.

 

I think the one change that still most infuriates me for the sheer ignorance and bigotry of its motivation is the change of the title of J.K. Rowling's first Harry Potter novel from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

 

But I'd come to detest the practice long before that, as Golden Age mystery novelists such as Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh and Patricia Wentworth, whose books account for a particularly large share of my reading material, frequently had to suffer the indignity of the publisher missing with the titles that they themselves had given to their books, based on the notion that the original title would presumably be incomprehensible to readers outside Great Britain.  The list of their title changes includes:

 

Agatha Christie:

(Note: Christie had a hand in some of these title changes (mostly with short stories; in many cases, especially with the "spoilery" or plain nonsensical new titles of her novels, however, she didn't.)

* Lord Edgeware Dies -- A/K/A: Thirteen for Dinner

* Three-Act Tragedy -- A/K/A: Murder in Three Acts

* Murder on the Orient Express -- A/K/A: Murder on the Calais Coach

* Death in the Clouds -- A/K/A: Death in the Air

* The ABC Murders -- A/K/A: The Alphabet Murders

* Dumb Witness -- A/K/A: Poirot Loses a Client; Murder at Littlegreen House; The Mystery at Littlegreen House

* Hercule Poirot’s Christmas -- A/K/A: Murder for Christmas; A Holiday for Murder

* One, Two, Buckle My Shoe -- A/K/A: The Patriotic Murders; An Overdose of Death

* Five Little Pigs -- A/K/A: Murder in Retrospect

* The Hollow -- A/K/A: Murder After Hours

* Taken at the Flood -- A/K/A: There is a Tide

* Mrs. McGinty’s Dead -- A/K/A: Blood Will Tell

* After the Funeral -- A/K/A: Funerals Are Fatal

* Hickory, Dickory, Dock -- A/K/A: Hickory, Dickory, Death

* Murder in the Mews (collection) -- A/K/A: Dead Man’s Mirror

* Murder in the Mews (short story) -- A/K/A: Good Night for a Murder

* Dead Man’s Mirror (short story) -- A/K/A: Hercule Poirot and the Broken Mirror; expansion of the nonseries short story The Second Gong

* Four and Twenty Blackbirds (short story) -- A/K/A: Poirot and the Regular Customer

* The Triangle at Rhodes (short story) -- A/K/A: Before It’s Too Late and Double Alibi

* The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (short story) -- expansion of the story The Theft of the Royal Ruby, A/K/A: The Christmas Adventure

* The Adventure of Johnny Waverly (short story) -- A/K/A: At the Stroke of Twelve

* Double Sin (short story) -- A/K/A: By Road or Rail

* Problem at Sea (short story) -- A/K/A: Poirot and the Crime in Cabin 66; The Quickness of the Hand

* The Dream (short story) -- A/K/A: The Three Strange Points

* The Mystery of the Baghdad Chest (short story) -- expanded into The Mystery of the Spanish Chest

* They Do It with Mirrors -- A/K/A: Murder with Mirrors

* 4:50 from Paddington -- A/K/A: What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw! and Murder, She Said

* The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side -- A/K/A: The Mirror Crack’d

* The Thirteen Problems (collection) -- A/K/A: The Tuesday Club Murders

* Sanctuary (short story) -- A/K/A: The Man on the Chancel Steps

* Murder Is Easy -- A/K/A: Easy to Kill

* Towards Zero -- A/K/A: Come and Be Hanged

* Sparkling Cyanide -- A/K/A: Remembered Death

* Yellow Iris (short story) -- A/K/A: Hercule Poirot and the Sixth Chair

* Mr. Parker Pyne, Detective (collection) -- A/K/A: Parker Pyne Investigates

* The Love Detectives (short story) -- A/K/A: At the Crossroads

* Why Didn’t They Ask Evans -- A/K/A: The Boomerang Clue

* And Then There Were None -- A/K/A: Ten Little Niggers; Ten Little Indians

* Destination Unknown -- A/K/A: So Many Steps to Death

* The Mousetrap (play) -- originally written as a radio play called Three Blind Mice; based on the short story / novella also called Three Blind Mice

* While the Lights Last and Other Stories (collection) -- The Harlequin Tea Set and Other Stories

* The Actress (short story) -- A/K/A: A Trap for the Unwary

* Wireless (short story) -- A/K/A: Where There’s a Will

* The Listerdale Mystery (short story) -- A/K/A: The Benevolent Butler

* The Manhood of Edward Robinson (short story) -- A/K/A: The Day of His Dreams

* Mr. Eastwood’s Adventure (short story) -- A/K/A: The Mystery of the Spanish Shawl; The Mystery of the Second Cucumber

 

 

Ngaio Marsh:

* Surfeit of Lampreys -- A/K/A: Death of a Peer

* Swing Brother Swing -- A/K/A: A Wreath for Rivera

* Opening Night -- A/K/A: Night at the Vulcan

* Spinsters in Jeopardy -- abridged in the U.S. as The Bride of Death

* Off With His Head -- A/K/A: Death of a Fool

* Death at the Dolphin -- A/K/A: Killer Dolphin

 

Patricia Wentworth:

* Danger Point -- A/K/A: In the Balance

* Miss Silver Intervenes -- A/K/A: Miss Silver Deals with Death

* The Traveller Returns -- A/K/A: She Came Back

* Pilgrim's Rest -- A/K/A: Dark Threat

* Spotlight -- A/K/A: Wicked Uncle

* The Brading Collection -- A/K/A: Mr Brading's Collection

* Anna, Where Are You? -- A/K/A: Death At Deep End

* The Gazebo -- A/K/A: The Summerhouse

* Who Pays the Piper? -- A/K/A: Account Rendered

* Little More Than Kin -- A/K/A: More Than Kin

* Seven Green Stones -- A/K/A: Outrageous Fortune

* Devil-in-the-Dark -- A/K/A: Touch And Go

* Unlawful Occasions -- A/K/A: Weekend with Death

 

More recently, Golden Age mysteries have been republished with altered titles in an obvious bid to fit them into the holiday sales bracket:

 

* George Heyer's Envious Casca has been rechristened A Christmas Party; and

* Gladys Mitchell's Dead Men's Morris and The Groaning Spinney are being republished as Death Comes at Christmas and Murder in the Snow, respectively.

 

Other recent examples -- where the altered title, moreover, doesn't even make sense based on the contents of the book -- are, courtesy of the reminder in Mike Finn's post for this task, Philip Pullman's first His Dark Materials novel, Northern Lights (published as The Golden Compass outside the UK), and C.J. Tudor's The Taking of Annie Thorne (published as The Hiding Place otuside the UK).

 

It's not just fiction, either, though.  Just looking at the Flat Book Society's selections for this present year, the last two selections have both been published under different titles:

 

* David Barrie's Supernavigators: Exploring the Wonders of How Animals Find Their Way was originally called Incredible Journeys: Exploring the Wonders of Animal Navigation; and

* Bob Berman's Earth-Shattering: Violent Supernovas, Galactic Explosions, Biological Mayhem, Nuclear Meltdowns, and Other Hazards to Life in Our Universe can also be found under the title Boom!: The Violent Supernovas, Galactic Explosions, and Earthly Mayhem that Shook our Universe.

 

And don't even get me started on translations ... I guess it's a good thing that Alexandre Dumas's best-known novels, The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo are only known under a single title in English, because enough of his other books (which arguably could use that sort of consistency even more) aren't.  Just consider:

 

* Marie Stuart: Mary Stuart; Mary Queen of Scots

* Le chevalier d'Harmental: The Chevalier d'Harmental; The Chateau d'Harmental; The Conspirators

* Ascanio: Francis I; The Sculptor's Apprentice

* Sylvandire: Beau Tancrède; The Marriage Verdict

* Fernande: Fernande, The Story of a Courtesan; The Fallen Angel

* La Reine Margot: Margaret de Navarre; Marguerite de Valois

* La guerre des femmes: The War of Women; Woman's War; Nanon

* Le chevalier de Maison-Rouge: The Knight of Redcastle; The Chevalier de Maison-Rouge

* La dame de Monsoreau: Diana of Meridor; Chicot the Jester; La Dame de Monsoreau; Diane

* Le bâtard de Mauléon: Agenor de Mauléon; The Half Brothers; The Head and the Hand; The Iron Hand

Les deux Diane: The Two Dianas; The Taking of Calais; The Chatelet; The Comte de Montgomery

* Mémoires d'un médecin, Joseph Balsamo: Memoirs of a Physician; Andrée de Tavarney; The Chevalier; Joseph Balsamo; Madame du Barry; The Countess Dubarry; The Elixir of Life; Cagliostro

* Ange Pitou: Taking the Bastille; Six Years Later; The Royal Life-Guard; Ange Pitou

* Le page du duc de Savoie: The Page of the Duke of Savoy; The Duke's Page; Leone-Leona; Saint Quentin; The Tourney of the Rue Saint Antoine

* Les mohicans de Paris I: The Monsieur Jackal; The Carbonari; The Horrors of Paris, or, the Flower of the Faubourg; The Mohicans of Paris; The Suicides; Monsieur Sarranti; Princess Regina

* Les mohicans de Paris II, Salvator le commissionnaire:Salvator; Conrad de Valgeneuse; Rose-de-Noël; The Chief of Police; Madame de Rozan

* Les compagnons de Jéhu: The Company of Jéhu; The Aide-de-Camp of Napoleon

* Le capitaine Richard: The Twin Captains; The Twin Lieutenants

* Les louves de Machecoul: She-Wolves of Machecoul; The Last Vendée

* La maison de glace: The Russian Gipsy; The Palace of Ice

* La San-Felice et Emma Lyonna: The Lovely Lady Hamilton; The Beauty and the Glory; Love and Liberty; The Neapolitan Lovers

* Les blancs et les bleus: The Whites and the Blues; The First Republic; The Polish Spy; The Prussians on the Rhine; The 13th Vendémaire; The 18th Fructidor

 

 

Two of my favorite German classics are suffering a similar fate:

 

* The title of Theodor Storm's Der Schimmelreiter is translated as anything from The Rider on the White Horse to The Dykemaster (neither of which captures the spooky subtext of the German title: The Rider on the White Horse is a literal translation of the words but not their meaning in this particular context; The Dykemaster is a rendition of the main character's job -- which I actually prefer, as the sinister connotations giving rise to the German title's subtext arise from that job); and

* Lion Feuchtwanger's Die Jüdin von Toledo can be found in English (to the extent it can be found at all) as either Raquel, The Jewess of Toledo, A Spanish Ballad ... or a combination of all of the above.

 

I guess by comparison we can be glad that Miss Smilla only lost her form of address and the instinctive "feeling" was transmogrified into the more physical "sense" when Peter Høeg's Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow (the UK title of Frøken Smillas fornemmelse for sne) became Smilla's Sense of Snow in the American publisher's bid to match the alliteration contained in the original Danish title -- again at the expense of forsaking the original title's subtext, which is all about instinctive and subconscious, not about sensory and possibly even conscious responses.

 

(Task: St. Nicholas is a man of many names in English alone – Santa Claus, Saint Nick, Father Christmas … although in the English speaking world he only comes once (at Christmas, not also on December 6 – whereas in Germany and the Netherlands he makes his visits under different names on both occasions). 

Which of your favorite books were published under different titles in the same language, e.g., in North America vs. Britain?  Have you ever bought a book under a title unfamiliar to you, only to discover belatedly that it was one you already own / had already read under a different title?)

 

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review 2019-12-09 23:41
The Christmas Egg
The Christmas Egg - Mary Kelly,Martin Edwards

The bitter cold could not neutralise the café-emanations of fish and chips and vinegar, in which the road seemed steeped; but it served to enhance the seasonable contents of the shops—tangerines, nuts, fir trees, boxes of frilly crackers, row on row of trussed turkeys lit by a ghastly glare of fluorescence. Nature, in awe to Him, Had doffed her gaudy trim. Human nature was more than making up for climate deficiencies, and preparing to commemorate the event with its customary wallowing. Brett looked along a chain of windows, gaudy with red and silver, dabs of cotton wool, strings of fairy lights.

I want to read more by Mary Kelly. This was a fantastic find among the re-discovered BLCC titles, and I already look forward to the re-issue of The Spoilt Kill in May. 

 

Brett Nightingale is investigating the death of Olga Karukhin, a Russian Princess, whose backstory alone is worth the read of this book. She was hard as nails. Who could have had any designs on her life? Or did anyone? 

 

Without getting entangled in pointless chases of dead ends and red herrings, Kelly actually created a mystery that primarily relied on police interviews and the clues given to the reader during the investigation. And what made it better is that we had investigators who were utterly human. No superheroes here, but fully fleshed-out characters, who were able to hold conversations with other characters, even those of the other sex, without sounding like a stereotype. 

 

It made the book for a thoroughly enjoyable read, except for one thing: the ending.

 

I am not entirely what happened at the ending, but we suddenly had characters kidnapped and bound and gagged and so much action - car chases and everything - that I had to check whether I was still reading the same book. Did it make sense?  I suppose. But it didn't make for great reading. 

 

This however is my only criticism of the book, and as mentioned above, I really want to read more by this author. Well done to Martin Edwards and the BLCC for unearthing Mary Kelly's work for today's readers.

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text 2019-12-08 22:27
Reading progress update: I've read 71%.
The Christmas Egg - Mary Kelly,Martin Edwards

“Do you do murders?” she asked suddenly.

“Not as a rule,” he said, taking her meaning after a bewildered moment. “I have encountered one or two.”

“What then? Robberies and burglaries and that? I suppose that’s bad enough.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, it’s such a ghastly job, isn’t it? Daddy says in the end all detectives get the same as the greasy people they mix with.”

“Oh?”

“Yes.”

Brett marched on in silence.

Hahahaha.

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text 2019-12-08 20:44
Reading progress update: I've read 44%.
The Christmas Egg - Mary Kelly,Martin Edwards

Just to say, I am still really enjoying this one. 

 

No silly red herrings or super-intelligent detectives following up incredible clues, no weird chases or witnesses who decide that not telling the police all they know and turning to detection themselves is a better option than....you know...telling the police.

 

Yes, I am rather enjoying this for its simplicity...and for the characters. I like Brett, he reminds me of Tey's Inspector Grant for some reason. Maybe it's because his wife is involved in the arts (she's an opera singer) much like Grant's closest friend, Marta, is an actress.

 

Anyway... onwards.

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text 2019-12-08 15:14
Reading progress update: I've read 4%.
The Christmas Egg - Mary Kelly,Martin Edwards

Princess Olga Karukhin was lying on her back in her bed, a narrow iron contraption with a hard mattress. The khaki greatcoat and blankets which served for covers were scarcely raised by her bony old body. Her grey head rested on a greyer pillow, across which a sluggish winter fly crawled by stops and starts, attracted by the greasiness of the shawl wrapped round her shoulders. Princess Karukhina once had been used to lying in a carved bed inlaid with mother-of-pearl, between silk sheets changed daily, covered with down quilts and white furs. The walls of her lofty bedroom, sprayed constantly with rosewater, had been set with Wedgwood jasper plaques. Whole pelts of Polar bears had lain like ice floes on the glassy floor. The dark cramped room where she now lay was both sleeping and living room. The walls were shoulder-rubbed, the single rug curled at the corners, there was a pervasive smell of biscuits gone soft. The door of a wardrobe hung askew above the wedge of newspaper that had held it shut; in its mirror a tilted reflection of window and sky was dimming to a London dusk.

In the midst of this squalor the Princess lay still, absolutely still. Even when the inquisitive fly crept into her ear she did not stir. She did not feel it, for she was dead.

Ok, this is a strong start to the book, but it is only the opening paragraph and I'll need to see if the book delivers what the start promises. 

 

I have no idea what the story will be about but the hint at a Russian princess make me expect Faberge eggs. 

 

Oh, and it may just be that this could work for the Russian Mothers' Day book task.

We'll see.

 

**EDIT**

The Book does work for the task - Princess Olga Karukhin, whose story this is, was a mother.

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