Thursday, January 10, 2013

Changes In Stephen King's The Stand 1978-1990 Part 4

In his preface, King describes the 1990 Stand as an "expansion of the original novel" and that indeed is what most of the new material is.  Scenes get extended and characters get characterized more.  For example, in the first chapter of the 1990 Stand, the reader learns a bit more about Stu Redmond's background, including that his youngest brother died of pneumonia, for which Stu felt guilty, a bit of foreshadowing on a couple of levels.

Of course, King fiddles as well as expands.  He even fiddles at such tiny levels, it's fairly mind-boggling.  For instant, Stu's description by his drinking buddies changes from "Old-time tough" to "Old Time Tough."  That's right; he deletes a hyphen, adds a space, and changes the ts to capitals.

When I went to Kent State, I worked for a year in The Institute For Bibliography And Editing (IBE), where at that point they were working on crafting critical editions of the novels of Joseph Conrad.  To create a critical edition, they would gather all the editions possible of the novels, including manuscripts, publishers proofs, and related material such as letters commenting on the novels.  Then they would work on figuring what Conrad's intent was for the work and go from there to craft the ideal version of the novel including noting variants in the footnotes.  It was a tough job, not so much mine individually (I mainly scanned in Conrad's letters where he mainly complained to his agent about money and gout), but putting together an ideal version of a text because so many little changes existed among editions (many of them typos and screwups; others, changes of the minds of writer, editor, or publisher).

Seeing something like the switch from "Old-time tough" to "Old Time Tough" would make the IBE staff weep with despair, especially since the 1990 Stand, in addition to the expansion by hundreds of pages, also seems to be filled with tiny little changes such as that.

King once called the writing of the novel his own personal Vietnam.  Editing a critical edition would be like fighting the whole damn Cold War.

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