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Source: (consider it) Thread: Can you help me ID a novel?
Brenda Clough
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# 18061

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The reason for the new American title is copyright law. There was a period of time when the US paid no heed to international copyright law which was at that time in its infancy. Charles Dickens wrestled with this a lot. To cover all the legal bases publishers found it easier to simply give the American edition a new title and then register its copyright at the Library of Congress. Nowadays the kinks in the laws have been smoothed out -- you will recall that Prof. Tolkien's books are exactly the same title both sides of the pond. But the precedent allows publishers (J.K. Rowling's American publisher is a famed offender) to retitle the American edition. And of course they're almost always recasting the cover (new art, etc.) anyway, so fussing with the title is easy.

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Ohher
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I'm convinced it's a publisher's plot to make Americans buy two copies of one novel, thinking they're getting two different books, instead of one novel with different spellings / terms for certain words.

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wabale
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The search for lost books can turn up unexpected delights. The book I was looking for was not a novel, but a book about novels. Some years ago when I worked in an advertising agency I had a novel going in my metaphorical desk drawer. A fellow copywriter suggested I read “Reader’s Report on the Writing of Novels” by Christopher Derrick, “A publisher’s reader examines the pitfalls facing the aspiring novelist”. There was a particularly devastating section listing all the types of stories that have been written. (There were 21.)

Because it was a library book, I was happy to return it as quickly as possible. A few years ago I decided I would like just to look at it again, only to discover the Kindle book I ordered wasn’t the book I had read in 1969. It is called “The Seven Basic Plots” by Christopher Booker. It surveys stories on an international scale, and he manages to be interesting while being a ruthless reductionist.

My current search is for a novel, in the form of a confession, about an Hungarian officer of a Croatian cavalry unit in the early 20th Century. Basically he got himself into so much trouble that the coming of The Great War was a blessed relief. I can’t remember the title, the author, or even what language it was originally written in - I read it in English. It was, I think, a picture of how the war came about. I discussed it with a Croatian lady on a coach winding through the Atlas mountains: she hadn't heard of it either.

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Albertus
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The Radetzky March (Joseph Roth) ends with a cavalry officer having got himself into so much trouble that getting killed at the start of the Great War is a bit of a relief. But he's a germanified Slovene and I can't remember if it is specified which part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire his regiment is from. Not Hungarian, I think.

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Brenda Clough
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No, doesn't ring a bell. However, there are a quantity of books about the different plots available. I have an exceptionally tedious one, which divides all plots into 27 categories, with an infinity of sub-categories. I can't imagine what these things are good for. It's certainly not how to -write- a novel.

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
However, there are a quantity of books about the different plots available. I have an exceptionally tedious one, which divides all plots into 27 categories, with an infinity of sub-categories. I can't imagine what these things are good for. It's certainly not how to -write- a novel.

Christopher Booker's Seven Basic Plots is notable for his recognition that there are lots of stories out there that don't fit his pattern, which are therefore Wrong.
Likewise, the Hero's Journey, the bane of the Hollywood Blockbuster: the theory goes that all stories can be seen as variations upon this particular plot, therefore a good story will have as little variation from that plot as possible.

Northrop Frye's Anatomy of Criticism is I think the only version that actually works; but then at one point he uses the word 'Anatomy' as the name for a category of fiction so I think he knew what he was doing.

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Brenda Clough
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If you make the categories broad enough, you can indeed wedge in all possible fiction. But then it becomes fairly meaningless.
You don't begin that way. You begin at the other end -- writing the thing. Only literary critics care about what slot the plot fits into.

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wabale
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quote:
Originally posted by Albertus:
The Radetzky March (Joseph Roth) ends with a cavalry officer having got himself into so much trouble that getting killed at the start of the Great War is a bit of a relief. But he's a germanified Slovene and I can't remember if it is specified which part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire his regiment is from. Not Hungarian, I think.

This sounds spot on, and I will investigate further. I readily invent details at the best of times. And the book was part of my pre-university reading list 54 years ago! Many thanks Albertus.

My eldest brother has more developed problems of memory. He ghost-wrote a book for a war veteran a few years ago, discovered to his horror that the man had remembered some significant details incorrectly - a matter which required a little tact to sort out. He then discovered, to even more horror, that it was going to be something of a race against time for him to write a coherent book. But he managed O.K. in the end.

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Roseofsharon
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Someone on BookGroup Online has suggested that the book Baker was looking for at the start of this thread might be "Property of a Gentleman" by Catherine Gaskin.
I have looked at a couple of reviews, and it does seem to have many of the features Baker mentioned
Property of a Gentleman

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Hedgehog

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quote:
Originally posted by Roseofsharon:
Someone on BookGroup Online has suggested that the book Baker was looking for at the start of this thread might be "Property of a Gentleman" by Catherine Gaskin.
I have looked at a couple of reviews, and it does seem to have many of the features Baker mentioned
Property of a Gentleman

Oh, this does look hopeful! The Property of a Gentleman was first published in 1974 and, importantly, it was in Reader's Digest Condensed Books, Vol. 100. So, while the title was a little older than Baker remembered, it WAS in condensed format.

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Roseofsharon
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I have been hoping to hear from Baker to say if this is the book in question, or if we should keep looking, but there has been no response - I even sent a PM, to no avail.
There have been no posts on any other threads or boards since mid September.
Does anyone know if Baker has left us permanently, or is just too busy for The Ship at the moment?

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Talk about books -any books- on our rejuvenatedforum http://www.bookgrouponline.com/index.php?

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Hedgehog

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I too have hoped that Baker would come back this way to confirm, but really, glance at this on-line review from 2014:
quote:
This is the story of Joanna Roswell who is apprenticed at Hardy's an antiques firm of renown. Joanna and her mentor Gerald Stanton travel to Thirlbeck the home of Robert Birkett, Earl of Askew. The estate has fallen on hard times and their task is to evaluate a painting by Rembrandt.

Thirlbeck is a house filled with secrets, unknown treasures and a curse that must be resolved.

I really enjoyed the mystery surrounding the young Spanish Woman and the Lake District with it's mists and dangerous fells.


It fits far too many of the parameters (plus, as I said before, the Condensed Book clue) to just be a coincidence.

As such, I am taking it on myself to declare the search over. Congratulations, Roseofsharon! You found it! [Overused]

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"We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it."--Pope Francis, Laudato Si'

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