Monday, December 10, 2012

For Whom the Typo Tolls: A Hemingway Pub Flub

Typos aren’t just for unedited self-published efforts. These days it seems like you can spot at least one or two in novels from the Big Six (soon to become the Big Five?). It’s another thing entirely, though, when there’s a typo on the book’s cover. Even worse when it’s the title. Even worse when it’s one of the classics of American literature.



Close, but no cigar.


This copy of For Whom the Bells Toll appeared at the used bookstore where I work, and no, it’s not a spoof of For Whom the Bell Tolls. This particular title was spotted in a stack of books from the International Collector’s Library, with a note on top admonishing employees in so many words to stop putting high prices on such crappy publications.

It’s the publisher that’s crap, not the books. And not just because the copy editor doesn’t know her Hemingway. In fact, there’s not much collector-y at all about the International Collector’s Library, which was a branch of Doubleday. The quality is cheap, despite the faux gilding, and the spines have a propensity for cracking. The paper is acidic too, so unless you’re fond of yellow, they don’t age well. They’re the sort of books that look kind of nice if you have a lot of them on a bookshelf and no one looks very closely.

But back to that title. Where have I heard/seen that particular mangling of Hemingway before? Oh, yeah. On a friend’s Facebook post.




Perhaps whoever signed off on the book binding was just a huge fan of mod fashion?

I’m still lamenting that I never saved a copy of Tess of the D’Ubervilles [sic] or the paperback by Ruth Rendall [sic] I once spotted, but if they appear again, you can be sure they’ll be posted here.

Seen any egregious errors in publishing lately? Do tell.

15 comments:

  1. Haven't seen any publishing errors lately - but I did come across an ad for something that was "world renound" :D

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  2. I came across this one in the Lawson McGhee Library: http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/3c/cc/0d9c92c008a029528770c010.L.jpg


    --Robby Griffith

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  3. I rarely notice publication errors--maybe they just aren't there where I've looked. In the stamp collecting world an error can reap high value. It's probably just not the same with books for the most part.

    Lee
    Wrote By Rote

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    Replies
    1. It can be. Typos are sometimes good ways of identifying valuable first editions, since they are often corrected in subsequent editions.

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  4. Ha! "For Whom the Bells Toll" sounds like the festive Christmas carol version of Hemingway.

    I've also had experiences where my eyes create a typo that isn't really there. I'll sheepishly admit that it wasn't until college that I realized that Roald Dahl wasn't named Ronald!

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  5. I am sorry that I cannot cite the source (i.e., it was one of several books I have since returned to my campus library) but the other day I was reading something about Shakespeare's play in 19th and 20th century editions; the author complained about editors' errors, and the sentence in which he complained the most contained a glaring typographical error. Ain't irony a wonderful thing!

    BTW, I just discovered your wonderful blog (via Detectives Beyond Borders), and I love what you are doing. I'm impressed by the quality, scope, and tone.

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    Replies
    1. Gosh, thanks so much for stopping by. What a lovely compliment.

      I know you were talking about a book about Shakespeare, but you reminded me of something I learned at the Folger Shakespeare Library, which holds several first folios of Shakespeare's works. From close study, they can tell which of them were worked on by which of the printer's employees, especially which ones were done by the apprentice ("He made a lot of mistakes," the curator told me.)

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  6. Postscript: Speaking of irony, please forgive the typo(s) and punctuation error(s) on my previous comment.

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  7. What an unfortunate and shameful error...

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  8. Yes, you touch upon why editors of Shakespeare have had such challenges. The quartos and folios contain so many differences that agreement upon the "correct" text is nearly impossible.

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  9. Correct spelling, at least in English, is largely a product of the eighteenth century, I think. I wonder about, say, Sanskrit, whose grammar was studied rigorously and written down in the fifth century BC and whose alphabet is arranged according to phonetic principles. I wonder if all that would lead to standardized spelling--though I also wonder how widespread literacy was in Sanskrit at the time.

    Back in our culture, Shakespeare is said to have signed his name God knows how many different ways, which makes him as consistent with names as are some of the-- Oh, but why should I bring work home with me?
    =======================================
    Detectives Beyond Borders
    "Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
    http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com

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  10. Nix that, since Sanskrit may already have been on its way out as a first language by then.

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  11. Where on earth did you come up with one of my old modeling photos from the 70s? I am second from the left. Damn, I looked different then. I still have the outfit, which I wear every now and then for evenings out to my favorite disco lounge. :)

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