Why you always need to double check when buying classics

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (ABRIDGED)

Publisher: Collins Classics (Harper Collins)
Pages: 320 – including introduction/glossary (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Series: Standalone

Story Rating: 4/5 (?)
Publisher’s Rating: 1/5

There are few words for how pissed off I am right now. After finishing this book and trying to pull my thoughts together (and boy are there a lot of thoughts!) I did a bit of looking around to see what others have to say about it and chatted it over with my dad, when what do I find  but that people are talking about stuff that I never read! Apparently, although it doesn’t say it anywhere I can find, the copy I’ve just read is an abridged one – how heavily I don’t know but I’m pissed off.

Now this is at least partly my fault for not triple checking before I started reading. I knew after all that Gulliver’s Travels has frequently been abridged to sell to children – I owned one of these kiddie’s versions as a child after all. What I didn’t expect though was that an adult publishing company, printing a ‘classics’ range, would use an abridged text (and I’m pretty sure I did double-check the small print to see if it was abridged before I bought it too – though obviously not well enough). I am really angry at myself right now but am more angry at HarperCollins – there is no excuse for trimming down books and even less of an excuse for not making it obvious that it’s not the full text.

So although I had so many thoughts about this book and it raised so many questions I simply don’t feel qualified to be able to discuss them because, despite finishing my copy I still haven’t actually read the book.  If I thought it was just little things that had been edited out I might be more forgiving and prepared to write a review anyway, but in addition to cutting the preface and censoring the rude parts (apparently I missed a funny scene where Gulliver urinates on the Lilliputian palace to put out a fire) they’ve also cut at least one thing from the fourth voyage that would have profoundly affected my opinion of the main character had it been kept in, and I just don’t know how many similar incidents might have been cut in the rest of the book. Therefore until I read the full text I can’t give a review. And while I fully intend to do just that, right now I just want to move on and read something different.

I’ve given the book a provisional mark of 4/5 because I did like it, quite a lot in places, and it was a fascinating read. HarperCollins  however gets 1/5 for being massive dickwads and I shall be turning this book in to my local charity shop after doing the unthinkable and scrawling ‘abridged’ right on that shiny white cover in permanent marker (ok, maybe it’ll just be old regular ink on the inside cover, but I’m not letting it be sold on without some sort of warning anyway).

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1 Comment

Filed under Not Reviews

One response to “Why you always need to double check when buying classics

  1. Anonymous

    I was also angry to find that there were significant pieces removed from the Collins Classics version of Gulliver’s Travels. I also bought Jane Eyre and Lady Chatterley’s Lover from Collins Classics and wonder if they removed pieces from them as well.

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