Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Possible Namesake for Harry Potter?

OK, this is not typical parshablog fare, but I figure I might as well. For various reasons, I was rereading James and the Giant Peach, and I noticed the opening line -- not pictured to the right, but close enough. James Henry Trotter is the name of the protagonist in James and the Giant Peach, and Roald Dahl offs his parents (in the second or third paragraph) and he lives an unhappy early childhood with his aunts. There are slight similarities in this setup to that of Harry Potter, but this is of course what many stories do, to separate the child hero from his parents (e.g. in so many Disney movies). But Harry is a nickname for Henry, such that he might be called James Harry Trotter. And of course, James Potter is the father of Harry Potter.

I mentioned that the opening line was not pictured to the right. That is because there is a different girsa of the opening lines in the Amazon book (pictured above) than in the book I was looking at.

My book begins:
Here is James Henry Trotter when he was when he was about four years old.
Up until this time, he had had a happy life, living with his mother and father in a beautiful home beside the sea.
In contrast, the excerpt above read:
Until he was fours years old, James Henry Trotter had a happy life. He lived peacefully with his mother and father in a beautiful house beside the sea.
Thus, they strip out the first sentence (/paragraph) and picture, and incorporate elements of it into the second sentence. And divide that sentence in two.

They do a similar thing at the beginning of chapter 2. My book reads:
Here is James Henry Trotter after he had been living with his aunts for three whole years -- which is when the story really begins.
For now, there came a morning when something rather peculiar happened to him.
In contrast, the new editions omits this image, and reworks the first two sentences as:
After James Henry Trotter had been living with his aunts for three whole years, something rather peculiar happened to him.
The reason for this appears, I think, on the front cover, and on the copyright page, where we see there is a different illustrator. My book was illustrated by Nancy Ekholm Burkert, while the new book (above) is illustrated by Quentin Blake. And his copyright for the illustrations are from 1995, or 5 years after Roald Dahl's death. The new illustrator did not make all the same illustrations, and they reworked the text to avoid references to images. Or vice versa.

There is a slight change in tone between one and the other, and I wonder if Dahl would have approved of this emendantion.

1 comment:

Leora said...

Enjoyed your application of "girsology" to James and the Giant Peach.

I do know there are two versions of the Harry Potter books, an English one and an American one, because the American publisher felt the American public was too dumb to understand some of the British terms.

I hope someday to tackle a comparison between Eustace's repentance in the Narnia books and teshuvah.


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