“Abridged”?


1Dream_of_xWe all know that Hodgson died in 1918 leaving a vast body of work both published and unpublished.

Shortly after, his widow arranged for the publishing of two volumes of his poetry but the big event would come in 1920-21 when Holden & Hardingham reprinted all of Hodgson’s books.

Virtually all of these reprints are the same as the first editions of the books… with one exception.

The 1921 Holden & Hardingham edition of THE NIGHT LAND is abridged.

Now this may seem like a minor thing but it begs the question as to who, exactly, did the abridgement of the original novel?

Remember, Hodgson had been dead for a few years at this point and no other abridgement of THE NIGHT LAND appeared during his life time.  The version that Hodgson created for the copyright volume was titled, “The Dream of X”.  It would be later published under that name in 1977 but is such a radical abridgement that it virtually stands as a separate story.

The abridged version by H&H is over 250 pages long which proves that it is not a variation of “The Dream of X”.  So the question remains: Who did the abridging?

There are three possible answers:

  1. Hodgson himself.  Although possible, this is unlikely because we have no record of any abridgement being marketed by Hodgson before his death.  THE NIGHT LAND was not published in America until the Ace paperback in 1962 and wouldn’t Hodgson have tried to sell an abridgement if he had done one?  Therefore, this answer is unlikely.
  2. Hodgson’s widow.  Bessie had her own experience working in an editorial office of a magazine before her marriage to WHH.  It is possible that she took it upon herself to do the work.  However, again, there is no indication that such an abridgement existed in Hodgson’s papers or that she ever marketed such a thing during her years as Hodgson’s literary executor. Which leaves…
  3. Someone at Holden & Hardingham.  This is the most likely explanation.  Faced with a gigantic text, they likely had one of their editors whittle it down to a more serviceable size for printing.  Remember also that H&H were largely printers of ‘cheap’ editions that were not too large nor meant to survive too long.  What remains is whether that ‘abridgement’ is any good and that, I’m afraid, is a question for another time!

 

 

 

 

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