Wednesday, January 02, 2019

31 Days of Nancy Drew Topic #2 - Original vs. Revised Text Nancy Drews

31 Days of Nancy Drew Topic #2 - Original vs. Revised Text Nancy Drews.

This is something that pops up a lot among new collectors and even more seasoned collectors, so there is something to learn here for everyone. At my website I have a section in the books/formats area on the texts and also I wrote for the 75th anniversary an article about the revisions - and I compare Old Clock original and revised and show you all the changes and discuss those, so you will find these links helpful too.

Referring to the classic Nancy Drew books - 1-56 published from 1930 to 1979 and what's still in print today, remember, only the first 34 books were revised. Books 35-56 only have one text version. 

How do I know what I have? Look at the copyright date - if it's from 1930-1956, it's original. But easier, is to just check the chapter count too - if it has 25 chapters, it's the original version. If 20 chapters, it's the revised version. Some books, you can tell by the cover art what's in there too if you know when a book was revised and when the art was changed to a later version, but that knowledge comes with time and research. So, a quick easy way is just to check the chapter count or copyright date.

Why were the books revised? Financial reasons - and this is all accounted for in the Stratemeyer Syndicate archives at the New York Public Library. It was cheaper to produce a 180-page or so book than one over 200 pages like the originals were. This was the main reason the books were revised--that and the switch to a different type of printing plate also led the charge to change--as plates were wearing out they were replaced with the new style--one reason some of the books were not revised completely in order of 1-34. As a consequence of the revisions process, ethnic and racial stereotypes and prejudices were removed and the texts were modernized with outdated language and slang being removed. It was felt that new generations of “TV watchers” had less of an attention span than previous generations of readers, so the pace of the books was quickened too in the revising process - so lots of descriptive passages from originals were removed to make action sequences faster and things like that.

What's the deal with exploding oranges in Moss-Covered Mansion, this isn't in the original?! A big example of a drastic change from original to revised - some of the stories got all new plots or plots were changed up quite a bit from the original. These are Hidden Staircase, Lilac Inn, Shadow Ranch, Broken Locket, Hollow Oak, Whispering Statue, Brass-Bound Trunk, and Moss-Covered Mansion.

How substantial were the revisions? Past Moss-Covered Mansion, vast  parts of these books were kept, not changed, just stuff cut out when revised.  For books 1-18 it varies, for the ones that were not all new plots for the most part or all new stories - if you read them side by side or OT and then RT, you'll see that a lot of the original story--complete paragraphs, whole sentences and things like that are still in the revised versions, so the bulk of the revision is still from the original. I began a project to highlight inside the revised version of an original all words/phrases/paragraphs/etc. that appear in the original and it's quite a bit when you do this kind of analysis.

What's currently in print? Penguin still reprints the classic 1-56 and they only reprint the revised versions of books 1-34. Applewood Books used to do reprints of the originals, but they no longer do, but you can find copies. If you want to read an original version, you can source them via local used book stores, antique malls, online sites like eBay and Etsy or even at Facebook where people sell their books or in selling groups, you can find inexpensive reading copies if you just want to read the text and do not care about printings or whether it's got a dust jacket/etc.

Can I get a full set of originals in the yellow spine picture cover format? No, this format didn't come out until 1961/1962, and the books began to be revised in 1959, so these books cannot be found in the original version in the YSPC format - Old Clock, Hidden Staircase, Bungalow Mystery, Lilac Inn, & Red Gate Farm. The only format where you can get a full set of all original text books is the blue tweed books if you want a uniform set.

Which is better, original or revised? Most fans tend to prefer the original once they read and compare the versions - the originals were often better written or the flow of events and dialogue mixed with descriptions of the setting and events going on, made for a much better cohesive read. They are more timeless. I grew up on the revised versions so they are nostalgic to me as well. So, I like them all but prefer the originals as to overall quality. I have found where some revised versions where there were huge changes in plot - I like the story better or feel the plot was more interesting overall - like Lilac Inn or Shadow Ranch for instance.

In the comments, let us know what you prefer better - original or revised? And of those stories revised with very new or mostly new plots, which do you prefer - the original or the revised new plot?

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Definitely prefer the original. The language. The descriptions seem more vivid. Because more time is taken with the plot it seems more logical and more detail oriented. As with most older books, it's a better experience to me. More immersive, richer, easier to become part of the world and put yourself into the shoes of the characters. I understand why they updated them, but it's just not the same.