“What’s in a name?” asks Juliet. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Yet, in this 60th anniversary year of Nineteen Eighty-Four (a brilliant title), you can only wonder about the fate of Orwell’s masterpiece if it had been published under its working title of “The Last Man in Europe”. And what about Portnoy’s Complaint (“A Jewish Patient Begins his Analysis”) or The Waste Land (“He do the Police in Different Voices”) or Gone With the Wind (“Baa! Baa! Black Sheep”)?
Would you have read Trimalchio in West Egg? How about The High Bouncing Lover? No? Then you would have missed reading The Great Gatsby. As far as I am concerned, The Last Man in Europe is the best of the bunch…
Mr. Gove does make the safety crew seem a bit draconian. Surely they will move the books downstairs? Or, send special baskets up to professional balcony dwellers to send back down like Emily Dickinson did out of her bedroom window? They DO seem to have a plan. I was so horrified by Mr. Gove’s suggestion that the books were permanently off limits, I had to check – here is a link to the new “scheme” – I love that – scheme. It feels like a plot. Perfect for a library.
Anyway – ultimately, he makes the perfect point,
“One of the joys of reading English Literature is that you need not go to the Bod to commune with Jane Austen. You just need to pop by Oxfam and you can get Pride and Prejudice for less than the price of a jar of instant coffee.”