Thursday, 17 October 2013

The Gods, Sir Hugh, Mr.Perrin and Other Worlds


Why, good Sir Hugh, did you change the ending of Mr.Perrin and Mr.Traill for the American edition called The Gods and Mr.Perrin? I discovered this when I bought the 1939 Penguin yesterday. Right up to the last section the story remains the same even what I took to be a mistake in the American text referring to the little china man is there. I thought this must be the classic yellow and red porcelain mandarin 'di-di' which with dogs, girls in swings and shepherd lasses populated all available nooks, niches and shelves. I still hold to my original reading, there's something not quite right about 'little china man' which 'little Chinaman' corrects. That's a small or even a little point but to change the fate of Perrin alienates. I had suspended my disbelief in a certain direction even though the uplift factor was high and unreal. The original has a similar charity but with a different outcome. A reader is disinclined to make an emotional investment in inconsistent characterisation even though in his life he meets with startling alterations in habitual behaviour. In fiction we are determinists. Roll the dice and get an ending out of several offered, sealed naturally, but having done so please don't look at the alternates. Alea jacta est, les joux sont faites.

So what did you think of your ending? !

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