Monday, 16 April 2007

London's Orion Books is to publish 'lite' versions of some old favourites, reports The Australian (although it's syndicated from The Times, a stablemate of the Oz broadsheet).

I mentioned in February that HarperCollins was doing something similar with Anna Karenina. But the new initiative seems worse, as there's no scholarly merit in their excisions.

The new offerings are labelled 'Compact Editions', and have been "whittled down to about 400 pages by cutting 30 to 40 per cent of the text".

Matthew Crockatt, a London bookseller, hates the idea.

On its blog, History Network News writes:

In the 1940s and 1950s Gilberton sold more than 200 million Classics Illustrated, comic-book versions of works including Ivanhoe, Moby Dick and Don Quixote. From the 1950s, Reader’s Digest Condensed Books, now called Select Editions, have combined several edited novels in one volume.

Recently, Donald Richie, the famous Japan expert, reviewed a manga version of a very old Japanese classic, The Kojiki. His conclusion?

In addition to the "Kojiki" the publisher has now issued a manga version of most of the classics: The "Genji" and "Heike" stories, even "The Pillow Book." And now I hear a voice from the back of the hall: "But surely it is better to have schoolchildren aware of even a mangafied classic than not aware of any classics at all." No, I am not sure of that.

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