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Put down the scissors

In a post on The Guardian‘s book blogs, Kathryn Hughes discusses the publication of compact versions of classic novels. Hughes supports the idea of cutting out the “ambling byways, baffling dead-ends and sudden jumps of pace and tone” found in works such as Mill on the Floss, David Copperfield, and Vanity Fair. She argues that if those books made it onto publishers’ desks today, an editor would slash them to pieces before taking them to press.

At least Hughes still wants them to be published, if only in a “crisper version of a rambling old classic.” Quillblog is not so eager to start tearing out pages. Perhaps, more than being just great stories, these books stand as examples of a style of writing that also reveal something of the time in which they were written. (Hughes allows that students should be studying the full version but says “ordinary” readers shouldn’t have to suffer.)

If people are just looking for a good story and don’t want to read such long books (perhaps they are still finishing up the 700-plus pages of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince), Quillblog suggests watching the movies or picking up CliffsNotes.