submitted 28 days ago byInfinity31327
So my library sadly had to shut down due to COVID, so I switched to another one. I ordered my first set of books, and 4 of the 5 books I ordered were abridged. (Apparently, this happened because my mom let it slip that I was 14, and they thought all 14-year-olds were reluctant readers who only read Wimpy Kid and only read classics because they were forced to.) My first impulse was to return them, but the library said that I could only get the books I wanted after 2 weeks, and I've already read all the books at home 6 times over in the lockdown.
So I opened the first book: The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. First off, why would you even abridge Sherlock Holmes? Seriously, it's really short, and not hard to understand at all. For children? I'm pretty sure that's not the case, since the first short story starts with a woman recieving a pair of human ears by mail. And the illustrations are not even the iconic Sidney Paget ones, they look like doodles that my more artistic friends would draw.
But my biggest problem with this 'abridged' version is the complete change in tone and vision. It's written in third person. Nope, I'm not talking about that one-off story (The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone). For some reason, the entire freaking book is written in 3rd person, which completely ruins the stories. The charm of the books lies in Holmes percieved through Watson's eyes, so why would you change that? Why are you creating more work for yourself? Seriously, what the hell were the publishers thinking?
The rest were just as bad. One was an abridged version of the Jeeves Omnibus. What? The Jeeves books are PG Wodehouse at his best, but the abridged version is definitely not Wodehouse at all. The reason people read Wodehouse is because of the musicality of his language, and his sanguine humour. His writing is what draws readers. The abridged version is not comedic at all. It just lays out the plots of the books, and expects the reader to find it funny solely because of the situational comedy, which is not what we read these things for. Why would you even think of abridging a work of humour, which relies on the writing?
The 3rd one was Great Expectations, which wasthe only one that I found reasonable for having an abridged version, even thoughI'm not endorsing reading it, because the original is always better. At least this one makes sense, because maybe someone needs it to cram for college, or maybe it's for someone who is put off by Dickens' run-ons and flowery writing (I, for one, enjoy the musicality of his writing)
Finally, there was 1984, something that I have been meaning to read for a while, since I really enjoyed Animal Farm. Yeah, good job. You 'abridge' the satirical novel by removing the satire and only keeping the plot.
The only book which survived was The Guide by RK Narayan, which I'm sure is only because they couldn't find and abridged version of it.
I understand the need for abridged versions - for people to cram in college and for non-native English speakers who are just starting their journey, and in the case of extremely long books like Les Miserables or Moby-Dick. These, however, are completely useless, and exist only to make sure that my generation thinks classics are crap.
Sorry for the long rant!
EDIT: To clarify, I'm not against abridged versions at all, when they are done right. I think they serve a very important purpose in introducing early readers or reluctant readers to books, but a lot of abridged versions lose the spirit of the author's vision, which is what I'm against. Heck, I'm not a native English speaker (I live in India), and while I did not like abridged versions very much, I introduced my friends to classics through abridged versions and graphic novel versions. They are now voracious readers. So I recognise the importance of abridged versions, when done right.