What 10 Classic Books Were Almost Called

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Remember when your high school summer reading list included Atticus, Fiesta, and The Last Man in Europe? You will once you see what these books were renamed before they hit bookshelves.

1. F. Scott Fitzgerald went through quite a few titles for his most well-known book before deciding on The Great Gatsby. If he hadn’t arrived at that title, high school kids would be pondering the themes of Trimalchio in West Egg; Among Ash-Heaps and Millionaires; On the Road to West Egg; Under the Red, White, and Blue; Gold-Hatted Gatsby; and The High-Bouncing Lover.

2. George Orwell’s publisher didn’t feel the title to Orwell’s novel The Last Man in Europe was terribly commercial and recommended using the other title he had been kicking around—1984.

3. Before it was Atlas Shrugged, it was The Strike, which is how Ayn Rand referred to her magnum opus for quite some time. In 1956, a year before the book was released, she decided the title gave away too much plot detail. Her husband suggested Atlas Shrugged and it stuck.

4. The title of Bram Stoker’s famous Gothic novel sounded more like a spoof before he landed on Dracula—one of the names Stoker considered was The Dead Un-Dead.

5. Ernest Hemingway’s original title for The Sun Also Rises was used for foreign-language editions—Fiesta. He changed the American English version to The Sun Also Rises at the behest of his publisher.

6. It’s because of Frank Sinatra that we use the phrase “Catch-22” today. Well, sort of. Author Joseph Heller tried out Catch-11, but because the original Ocean’s Eleven movie was newly in theaters, it was scrapped to avoid confusion. He also wanted Catch-18, but, again, a recent publication made him switch titles to avoid confusion: Leon Uris’ Mila 18. The number 22 was finally chosen because it was 11 doubled.

7. To Kill a Mockingbird was simply Atticus before Harper Lee decided the title focused too narrowly on one character.

8. An apt precursor to the Pride and Prejudice title Jane Austen finally decided on: First Impressions.

9. Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? Secretly, apparently. Mistress Mary, taken from the classic nursery rhyme, was the working title for Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden.

10. Originally called Ulysses in Dublin, James Joyce’s Dubliners featured characters that would later appear in his epic Ulysses a few years later.

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October 10, 2010 - 4:44pm
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