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15 Books With Completely Different Movie Endings

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So you read the book before you saw the movie. Congrats! Unfortunately—as these examples prove—that doesn't always make you an expert on what, exactly, is going to unfold on the big screen. (It should go without saying, but this article contains spoilers—lots of them. You've been warned!)

1. Jurassic Park


Jurassic Park, 
one of the most popular summer blockbusters of all time, doesn't completely line up with the events described in Michael Crichton's best-selling novel of the same name. At the end of the book, the Costa Rican military comes to the rescue by bombing Site A on Isla Nublar. But director Steven Spielberg felt like changing it up. Instead of a military intervention, Spielberg decided to have the T. Rex return to save the protagonists from a Velociraptor attack. "I think the star of this movie is the T. Rex," Spielberg explained at the time. "The audience will hate me if the T. Rex doesn't come back for one more heroic appearance."

The book and movie's body counts vary, too. By the end of the novel, John Hammond has died, and it is implied that Ian Malcolm has as well. Both survive in the movie. On the other hand, the park's game warden, Robert Muldoon, and IgGen's attorney, Donald Gennaro, perish in the big screen adaptation, but live on in the book. 

2. Planet of the Apes


Planet of the Apes
features one of the most iconic twist endings in movie history: Astronaut George Taylor (played by Charlton Heston) discovers he has been marooned on a post-apocalyptic Earth the entire time. But in La Planète des Singes, the French novel it is based on, the main character—journalist Ulysse Merou—lands on a different planet during the course of his travels, one inhabited by self-aware apes, sentient monkeys, and tribes of dimwitted humans. When Ulysse finally makes it back to Earth, he is shocked to learn that it is now 700 years in the future, and that a similar hierarchy has emerged at home. 

Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling, who co-wrote the film's screenplay, was the one who ultimately decided to make the planet of the apes Earth in the distant future. 

3. A Clockwork Orange

Stanley Kubrick based his screenplay on the shortened American version of the British novel by Anthony Burgess. This telling omitted the final chapter of the book, focused on Alex after he is rehabilitated. Though he grows out of his murderous tendencies in Burgess' text, in Kubrick's interpretation, Alex remains as psychotic as ever. Kubrick didn't like the tale's original ending; he felt it was entirely too optimistic given the story's tone and themes. "I think whatever Burgess had to say about the story was said in the book,” Kubrick said. “But I did invent a few useful narrative ideas and reshape some of the scenes." 

Burgess was not a fan of the final product. "The book I am best known for, or only known for, is a novel I am prepared to repudiate: written a quarter of a century ago," Burgess later recalled. "It became known as the raw material for a film which seemed to glorify sex and violence. The film made it easy for readers of the book to misunderstand what it was about, and the misunderstanding will pursue me until I die."

4. Fight Club

The film version of Fight Club remains faithful to author Chuck Palahniuk's original plot—until the very end, that is. The movie version wraps up as the narrator, standing beside Marla, watches a series of explosions caused by his now-absent alter ego, Tyler Durden. At the end of the book, however, the narrator wakes up in recovery from his gunshot wound. He thinks he's in heaven, but Palahniuk makes it clear that he's actually in a mental institution. Several hospital attendants ask him when he's going to start Project Mayhem again, inferring that Tyler Durden is still very much a part of him.

Director David Fincher explained his choice by arguing that the book was too devoted to the narrator's alter ego: "[I] wanted people to love Tyler (Durden), but I also wanted them to be OK with his vanquishing." 

5. The Scarlet Letter

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter is an exploration of guilt, punishment, and mob mentality in 17th-century New England. At the end of the classic tale, the townspeople persecuting Prynne learn that the father of her baby is Reverend Dimmesdale, who eventually dies from immense guilt.

The 1995 film version of The Scarlet Letter opted instead for a happy Hollywood ending (read: no one dies). Instead, Reverend Dimmesdale and Hester Prynne leave their town in order to build a new life together.

6. Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Truman Capote's beloved novella was also given a simplified and sanitized Hollywood ending. In the book, Holly Golightly loses her cat and abandons New York for Argentina—it's unclear where the free spirit will end up next. The movie, on the other hand, ends with Audrey Hepburn's Holly reuniting with Cat and sharing a passionate kiss with neighbor Paul. (There's no romance between them in Capote's version.) 

Capote wasn't a fan of the movie based on his work, nor of the casting of Audrey Hepburn. "I had lots of offers for that book, from practically everybody," Capote said in an interview. "And I sold it to this group at Paramount because they promised things, they made a list of everything, and they didn't keep a single one."  

7. My Sister's Keeper

Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper tells the story of a young leukemia patient named Kate, whose parents conceive another daughter, Anna, in order to have an organ donor for their firstborn. When she turns 13, Anna is asked to donate one of her kidneys to her dying sister. She refuses and sues her parents for medical emancipation. 

In the book, Anna gets into a terrible car accident, and her kidneys are posthumously harvested for Kate, who survives. But for the 2009 adaptation, director Nick Cassevetes chose to reverse the sisters' fates. Kate ends up succumbing to her illness after she refuses to accept her sister's organs. Cassevetes believed his movie's ending was more accurate after he visited pediatric hospitals and talked to terminally ill patients. 

"Going and visiting people in the hospital, this story repeated over and over and over again," Cassevetes told About.com. "In reality, none of these stories ended like the book did." 

8. The Mist

Stephen King's The Mist ends on a vague note—a few survivors head towards the source of a mysterious radio transmission as the titular mist creeps around them. But director Frank Darabont decided to give the film a more definitive—and more gut-wrenching—conclusion. David, played by Thomas Jane, comes to realize that the group's survival efforts are futile. To prevent any further suffering, he kills the remaining survivors, including his son, just before the military shows up to inform him that the situation is now under control. 

"How primitive do people get?" Darabont said of his new ending. "It's Lord of the Flies that happens to have some cool monsters in it." King, for his part, gave the new ending two thumbs-up: "The ending is such a jolt—wham! It's frightening. But people who go to see a horror movie don't necessarily want to be sent out with a Pollyanna ending."  

9. The Lorax

At the end of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, the tale's Once-ler gives the boy the last-ever Truffula seed in the hopes that he'll be able to grow a new forest. But there's no room for ambiguity in the story's 2012 cartoon version: Before the credits roll, new Truffula Trees are flourishing and The Lorax has returned to the forest. 

10. Red Alert

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, based on Peter George's Red Alert, takes a comedic approach to the source material. Instead of narrowly avoiding a nuclear catastrophe at the zero hour (like the book does), Stanley Kubrick decided to blow up the world because of some petty bickering. 

Originally, Kubrick planned to have everyone in the situation room get into a big pie fight. But "I decided it was farce and not consistent with the satiric tone of the rest of the film," he said.

11. Forrest Gump

There are some pretty major differences between Forrest Gump's book and film versions. Though the movie ends with Jenny's death and shows Forrest raising their child alone, the book wraps up with Forrest starting up his own shrimp business, in memory of his college friend Bubba. (Another key difference: in Winston Groom's book, Jenny survives, but marries another man and has his child.) 

"[Screenwriter] Eric Roth departed substantially from the book,” Zemeckis told the Chicago Tribune. “We flipped the two elements of the book, making the love story primary and the fantastic adventures secondary. Also, the book was cynical and colder than the movie. In the movie, Gump is a completely decent character, always true to his word. He has no agenda and no opinion about anything except Jenny, his mother, and God."  

Groom believed that the movie "took some of the rough edges off" his beloved character. In fact, he was so unhappy with the film that he started the book's sequel, Gump and Co., with Forrest telling readers, "Don't never let nobody make a movie of your life's story."

12. Who Censored Roger Rabbit?

Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, the inspiration for Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, is a surprisingly dark murder mystery. In the novel, Roger hires Detective Eddie Valiant to figure out why Rocco DeGreasy, the man who has the cartoon rabbit under contract, hasn't given him his own comic strip. During Valiant's investigation, Roger Rabbit is murdered and his wife Jessica is framed. Valiant spends the rest of the story trying to figure out who killed Roger. (The book ends with the revelation that a mysterious genie is the culprit.)

Although there's still a murder at the center of the 1988 movie version—this time, Toontown owner Marvin Acme is the victim—Disney and Touchstone Pictures gave the entire story an overhaul when the company acquired the film rights from author Gary K. Wolf. The studios hoped to make a family-friendly blockbuster in order to rejuvenate their flagging animation department, and saw Who Censored Roger Rabbit? as a means to that end.

13. I Am Legend

In 2007, Will Smith starred in author Richard Matheson's I Am Legend as Dr. Robert Neville, the sole survivor of a worldwide plague that turns humans into infected, vampire-like creatures. 

The book ends with Dr. Neville, who spends his days slaying the infected to protect himself, learning that he's considered a monster to the creatures who are now the dominant race on the planet. He's imprisoned and later executed for his crimes. In the movie, however, Neville solidifies his hero status by handing off a cure for the virus ravaging the planet to a healthy woman and boy. An alternate ending that showed more interaction between Neville and the creatures was shot, but the filmmakers opted to go with an ending in which Will Smith sacrifices himself for the sake of the human race.

14. First Blood

The first Rambo movie is based on the novel First Blood by author David Morrell. The book and the movie both tell the story of a troubled Vietnam War vet, but the book ends with his death after a violent showdown with Chief Teasle. In the movie, Rambo and Teasle survive, and Rambo turns himself into the authorities.

The reason for the change: Once again, early test audiences didn't approve of the original ending, and wanted to see Rambo live to fight another day. 

15. The Body Snatchers

The 1956 black-and-white classic, based on Jack Finney's The Body Snatchers, ends with protagonist Miles ranting and raving ("You're next!") along a busy highway of pod people and non-believers. But in the book, the titular body snatchers flee Earth after Miles discovers where their pods are grown and begins to set them on fire.

Though director Don Siegel and screenwriter Daniel Mainwaring were happy with their unsettling ending, the movie studio demanded a more hopeful outcome. To keep the bosses happy, the filmmakers added in a brief epilogue, during which the audience learns that local police had alerted national authorities to the presence of the space invaders. Sniffed Siegel, "The film was nearly ruined by those in charge at Allied Artists, who added a preface and an ending that I don't like." 

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6 X-Rated Library Collections
The reading room of the British Library, circa 1840
The reading room of the British Library, circa 1840
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

During the 19th century, some librarians became preoccupied with the morality (or lack thereof) of some of their titles. As a result, a number of libraries created special collections for "obscene" works, to ensure that only readers with a valid academic purpose might access them. Below are six examples, adapted from Claire Cock-Starkey’s new book A Library Miscellany.

1. THE "PRIVATE CASE" // THE BRITISH LIBRARY

At the British Library (or British Museum Library, as it was called then), it was John Winter Jones, Keeper of Printed Books from 1856, who was responsible for the creation of the “Private Case.” Titles that were deemed subversive, heretical, libelous, obscene, or that contained state secrets were kept out of the general catalog, stored in separate shelving, and marked with the shelfmark category “PC” (for private case). By far the majority of books in the private case were pornographic or erotic texts; it's rumored that by the mid-1960s the case contained over 5000 such texts, including George Witt’s collection of books on phallicism and Charles Reginald Dawes’s collection of French erotica from 1880–1930.

What was unusual about the Private Case was that it was so secretive: None of the books were recorded in any catalog, as if the collection didn’t exist. But starting in 1983, all books once in the Private Case have been listed in the catalog, and many have been returned to the main collection—although librarians may still check that a reader has academic reasons for consulting some of the more scandalous titles.

2. L’ENFER // BIBLIOTHEQUE NATIONALE DE FRANCE

General stacks of the Bibliotheque nationale de France
FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images

L’Enfer, which translates as “the hell,” was created in 1830 to house the French national library’s large collection of erotica and other books that were considered “contrary to good morals.” Many of the works were obtained by the library through confiscation, but fortunately the librarians had the foresight to preserve these scandalous texts. The collection—which still exists—has been largely kept private and was only fully cataloged in 1913, when about 855 titles were recorded.

Modern pornographic magazines and erotic fiction do not get cast into L’Enfer: It is only for rare works or works of cultural significance, such as a handwritten copy of the Marquis de Sade’s Les Infortunes de la Vertu (1787) and The Story of O by Pauline Réage (1954). In 2007, the library put on a public exhibition of some of the more fascinating (and titillating) texts in L’Enfer, finally granting the public a glimpse of this hidden collection.

3. TRIPLE-STAR COLLECTION // NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY

The New York Public Library Main Reading Room
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

At the New York Public Library, some obscene works were once hand-marked with "***", which indicated that readers who wanted to consult those volumes had to be supervised. (Librarians regularly collected erotica, including from nearby Times Square, as part of their "mandate to collect life as it was lived," according to The New York Times.This system began in the mid-20th century and caused certain titles to be locked in caged shelves; it also meant that the items could only be consulted in a small restricted part of the reading rooms after special permission was granted.

4. PHI COLLECTION // OXFORD'S BODLEIAN LIBRARY

Radcliffe Camera building, part of the Bodleian Library
Oli Scarff/Getty Images

The restricted collection at the Bodleian Library was created by E. W. B. Nicholson, who was head librarian from 1886–1913. No one is quite sure why it was named after the Greek letter phi, but some have suggested it was because it sounds like “fie!” which you might exclaim when asked to retrieve a book from this collection. Or, perhaps it stems from the first letter “phi” of the Greek “phaula” or “phaulos,” meaning worthless, wicked, or base. The collection included pornography alongside works of sexual pathology, and students needed to ask a tutor to confirm their academic need for a book before the librarians would let them consult any texts with a phi shelfmark. Today, many of the books have been reclassified into the general collection, but the phi shelfmark still persists.

5. "XR" COLLECTION // HARVARD’S WIDENER LIBRARY

 Widener Memorial Library at Harvard University
Darren McCollester/Newsmakers

The Widener Library still holds its restricted collection behind a locked copper door in the basement of the library—not because they still want to hide it, but simply because (it's said) no one has the time to redistribute the collection back into main circulation. The collection was thought to have been set up in the 1950s, after a sociology professor complained that many texts he needed for his class were missing or defaced (the Playboy centerfold was apparently always going astray), and thus the restricted collection was created to protect and preserve rather than to censor. The collection was only added to for a 30-year period and is now closed; however, its classification reveals something of the social attitudes of the times towards titles such as The Passions and Lechery of Catherine the Great (1971) and D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928). The X part of the shelfmark does not stand for X-rated but indicates that the books are unusual; the R part stands for “restricted.”

6. THE ARC // CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY

Trinity College Library, Cambridge University
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As library collections are frequently made up of a series of smaller collections donated to the institution, they may often acquire titles that the library may otherwise have not chosen to collect—such as some of the more risqué works. Cambridge University Library felt it had a duty to students to protect them from some of the more offensive books in their collection, and for this reason the Arc (short for arcana—meaning secrets or mysteries) classification was created. As with other restricted collections, Cambridge’s Arc provides a fascinating insight into changing moral attitudes. Some of the highlights included what is considered by some historians as the first gay novel, L’Alcibiade fanciullo a scola (Alcibiades the Schoolboy), published in 1652; a 1922 copy of Ulysses by James Joyce (notable because at that time the book was being burned by UK Customs Officers); and a misprinted copy of the Cambridge Bible.

BONUS: "INFERNO" // THE VATICAN LIBRARY

The Sistine Hall, once part of the Vatican Library
Michal Osmenda, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

There has always been a rumor that the Vatican Library holds the largest collection of pornographic material in the world, in a collection supposedly known as the “Inferno,” but in fact this honor goes to the Kinsey Institute for Sex Research in Bloomington, Indiana. It is thought that the Vatican Library’s collection was created from the thousands of erotic works that have been confiscated by the Vatican over the years. However, no evidence for the collection has been found, and the (admittedly incredibly secretive) Vatican librarians deny its very existence.

This article is an expanded version of an entry in Claire Cock-Starkey’s A Library Miscellany, published by Bodleian Library Publishing.

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8 Professional Translators Choose Their Favorite 'Untranslatable' Words
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Readers tend to think of a translated novel as having just one author. While that’s technically true, each work contains two voices: that of the author and the translator. Translators must ensure that their interpretation remains faithful to the style and intent of the author, but this doesn't mean that nothing is added in the process. Gabriel García Márquez, the author of One Hundred Years of Solitude, once famously said that the English version of his novel was, in some ways, better than his original work in Spanish.

“A good translation is itself a work of art,” translator Nicky Harman writes. Put differently, translator Daniel Hahn believes translation is literally impossible. “I don’t just mean it’s really, really difficult, but really, it’s not actually possible,” he says. “There’s not a single word in any of the languages I translate that can map perfectly onto a word in English. So it’s always interpretative, approximate, creative.”

In a show of appreciation for this challenging craft, the Man Booker International Prize was created to annually recognize one outstanding work of literature that has been translated from its original language into English and published in the UK. Ahead of the winner being announced on May 22, the translators of eight Man Booker International Prize nominees have shared their favorite "untranslatable" words from the original language of the novels they translated into English.

1. BREF

Sam Taylor, who translated The 7th Function of Language by Laurent Binet from French to English, said the best definition of bref is “Well, you get the idea.” It’s typically used to punctuate the end of a long, rambling speech, and is sometimes used for comedic effect. “It’s such a concise (and intrinsically sardonic) way of cutting a long story short,” Taylor says.

2. SANTIGUADORA

Unsatisfied with any of the English words at their disposal, translators Sarah Moses and Carolina Orloff left this word in Spanish in Die, My Love, a psychological novel by Ariana Harwicz. The word, which describes a female healer who uses prayer to break hexes and cure ailments, was explained in the text itself. The translated version reads: “If only there were santiguadoras living in these parts, those village women who for a fee will pray away your guy’s indigestion and your toddler’s tantrums, simple as that.”

3. HELLHÖRIG

The German word Hellhörig "literally means 'bright-hearing' and is used, for example, to describe walls so thin you can hear every noise in the next room," says Simon Pare, who translated The Flying Mountain, a novel by Christoph Ransmayr. Pare notes that while English equivalents like "paper-thin" and “flimsy” carry the same negative connotation, they don’t have the same poetic quality that hellhörig has. "'The walls have ears,' while expressive, is not the same thing,” Pare laments.

4. VORSTELLUNG

Vorstellung (another German word) can be defined as an idea or notion, but when its etymology is broken down, it suddenly doesn’t seem so simple. It stems from the verb vorstellen, meaning “to place in front of—in this case, in front of the mind’s eye,” according to Susan Bernofsky, who translated Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck. “The Vorstellung is the object of that act of mental conjuring-up," Bernofsky adds. (Fun fact: All nouns are capitalized in German.)

5. 눈치 (NUNCH'I)

Literally translating to “eye measure,” the Korean word nunch’i describes “an awareness of how those around you are currently feeling, plus their general character, and therefore the appropriate response,” says Deborah Smith, the translator of Han Kang’s The White Book. Korean culture stresses the importance of harmony, and thus it’s important to avoid doing or saying anything that could hurt another person’s pride, according to CultureShock! Korea: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette.

6. ON

Anyone who has survived French 101 has seen this word, but it’s a difficult concept to fully grasp. It’s also one that crops up regularly in novels, making it “the greatest headache for a translator,” according to Frank Wynne, who translated Vernon Subutex 1 by Virginie Despentes. On is often translated as “one” (as in “one shouldn’t ask such questions”), but in general conversation it can come off as “preposterously disdainful,” Wynne notes. Furthermore, the word is used in different ways to express very different things in French, and can be taken to mean “we,” “people,” “they,” and more, according to French Today.

7. TERTULIA

Store this one away for your next cocktail party. The Spanish word tertulia can be defined as “an enjoyable conversation about political or literary topics at a social gathering,” according to Camilo A. Ramirez, who translated Like a Fading Shadow by Antonio Munoz Molina. Although tertulia is tricky to translate, it's one of Ramirez's favorite Spanish words because it invokes a specific atmosphere and paints a scene in the reader’s mind. For instance, the first chapter of The Hobbit, “An Unexpected Party,” becomes “Una Tertulia Inesperada” when translated into Spanish.

8. PAN/PANI

Like the French on, the Polish words pan (an honorific address for men) and pani (an address for women) are challenging to explain in English. While many European languages have both a formal and informal “you,” pan and pani are a different animal. “[It's] believed to derive from the days of a Polish noble class called the szlachta—another tradition unique to Poland,” says Jennifer Croft, who translated Flights by Olga Tokarczuk into English. This form of address was originally used for Polish gentry and was often contrasted with the word cham, meaning peasants, according to Culture.pl, a Polish culture site. Now, it’s used to address all people, except for children or friends.

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