The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage: How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? part eight


This should be the second-last part, so we are nearly there! It won’t be long until we have a final total.

Previous parts can be seen  herehereherehereherehere and here.

As always my own copy is a Methuen from 1957 – a 12th reprint/impression of the original. The new version is the most modern of any paperbacks I have looked at so far,  which is an Egmont copy from 2014.


CHAPTER SIXTEEN: SURPRISES AND SHOCKS 

As with most previous chapters (but not all, if I remember correctly) the firing of the cottage is changed to burning – and fired to burnt.

Also again, capital letters are removed from the select phrases Blyton had put them in. She had capitalised Suspects and so on, but in this chapter there was also a Big Think, the Law and Very Serious Trouble.

And as always, italics have all been done away with.

  • but somebody must have done the deed
  • Could the tramp have done it?
  • Could Horace have set fire to the cottage?
  • Could Mr Smellie have done it?
  • But someone hid in the ditch!
  • Oooh yes!
  • He meant to look after Bets, not have Bets look after him!
  • Oh this is exciting!
  • what are you doing here?
  • Oh we must go on… we are the Find-Outers!
  • it couldn’t matter him knowing
  • What will your mothers say?
  • Mr Hick told me he wouldn’t tell any one!
  • Of course, Bets would go and give everything away!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – important emphasis and nuance is lost when the italics are removed.

And now for some new changes:

Bets remarks that It’s a pity you can’t wear goloshes or something, Buster. This is changed to boots.

A few lines are lost at Mr Hick’s house:

He kicked Buster away and the dog yelped.   “Oh don’t!” said Bets, dismayed. “You shouldn’t kick a dog, Mr Hick. That’s cruel.”

And the children lose their titles when Goon speaks to them:

As for you, Master Laurence and Miss Daisy, and you Master Frederick.


CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: VERY STRANGE DISCOVERIES

In this chapter we have some straight forward, yet still pointless modernisation.

The tempests have become jets now. While tempest wasn’t a word I had seen before reading this book they are also referred to as planes so it’s perfectly clear what they are. Replacing it with a generic term like jet (there are many types of jet) makes it seem a bit silly that the whole mystery hinges over whether or not Mr Hicks saw some planes.

The train also gets modernised. Soon they saw a cloud of smoke in the distance. The train was coming, has become soon they saw a train in the distance, which makes the second sentence unnecessary and thus it has been removed.

Bets conjectured that perhaps it gets water or something. That’s now perhaps there’s a signal or something. And while previously the train had puffed by the five children it now had rushed by.

So what we have is a world without mobile phones, TVs in every house, a local policeman on a bicycle and what can only be imagined as modern electric trains. That makes totals sense!

The two queers have been replaced with peculiar and odd respectively.

And lastly the italics-cull.

  • you children simply cannot be allowed
  • I don’t care who fired [set fire] to his workroom
  • I’m glad it was burnt down
  • Mr Hick told me he wouldn’t tell any one!
  • How could he have seen and counted the Tempests [jets] that flew over here?
  • It is queer [peculiar]
  • Those planes have only been here once
  • he must have been here
  • a man who could break a faithful promise could do anything, simply anything
  • Whatever has he got?
  • Look!
  • that’s why he brought them to me
  • We’ll simply have to decide something

One reference to the workroom being fired has been left in, presumably by accident again.


That’s only eleven new changes in those chapters, making our total 184 with two chapters to go. I wonder if we will break 200 this time around?


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