By Pat Gulley
Do you collect books? No, I don’t mean just buying tons of books and saving them in boxes—or if you are fortunate enough to have a lot of room in your house---put them up on bookshelves you are constantly buying or building. No, I mean a certain kind of book. Collecting for the sake of collecting, checking out older and older editions if you collect an author who has passed on, or collecting All editions if the author is published by different publishers in different countries, and especially if the titles have been changed.
Me, I have a huge collection of Agatha Christie. (I’ve also now started on Jane Austen; books written about her, and sequels written to continue on with the characters she had created.)
But back to Dame Agatha. I do not have every book she’s written. Some I’ve had and now find I don’t, so I scour book stores for the older editions and look for the British and Australian editions, and double that if there was a title change.
And how ‘bout those title changes? It really does make collecting Agatha’s books interesting, even though one wonders why. For some reason back in the 50s and 60s American publishers felt they had to change the titles. I don’t know if it was for legal reasons, probably not, but for some reason they didn’t think Americans would like the British titles. What’s the difference between Murder On The Calais Coach and Murder On The Orient Express? No possibility that Americans would know where
is? Wouldn’t Orient Express give the
false impression that the train was in Calais Asia????
Or did they think, for some reason, that the Orient Express Train, which had
already been discontinued, was famous enough? I do understand And Then There
Were None for Ten Little N---ers, which eventually became Ten Little Indians.
But why did The Patriotic Murders become One, Two, Buckle My Shoe and Overdose
Of Death? Too weird!
And when I say older editions, I do not mean collector or antique editions that could cost in the hundreds of dollars. No, I just look for the oldest edition date I can find. I definitely do not like the brand new ones because too often, the wording has been changed to reflect modern usage. A daydream of mine is to be garage sailing and come across a 1920 edition of The Mysterious Affair At Styles.
The ones that are giving me a heck of a time are her short story collections, because even though there are some that she put together herself, the fact is that her publishers worldwide also put together her short stories and gave these collections---yes, you guessed it—new titles. So, I’ve just gone to having a list of the short stories and making sure I’ve got them all and not caring about a collection that may only have stories I already own. (Have you assumed by now, I’m not bothering with short stories too much? What a headache.) Oh, but then we have to move on to her plays and their collection into book form.
My treasured books of Agatha’s are the odd ones like The Mysterious Mr. Quin and Mr. Parker Pyne, two characters that did not become popular like Poirot. And I do have a copy of The Big Four, an attempt at master-criminal-of-the-world sort of thing, which is not very good.
I keep track of this with my copy of An Agatha Christie Chronology by Nancy Blue Wynne--a book I wish I’d had the ability to research and write. It is in taters, but I couldn’t face buying a new one because it is annotated up the wazzzzzooooo. Thank heavens for paper clips and rubberbands! Also, http://agathachristie.com/ is a very interesting site for information on Christie and especially all the sidekicks. Frankly, I think the sidekicks are great stories all on their own. But that’s another blog.
So do you collect books? Yes, let’s stick to books here, because I know what ‘collect anything’ can lead to, just in my own house alone! What books do you collect?