Friday, June 20, 2014

One Lick Less

We have nine sheets of the corrected galley proofs from William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying along with a letter from Edith Greenburg of Cape and Smith. The publishers were in a rush to get the book out, and Faulkner was tardy on getting his proofs back to them. So, they sent him a handful of questions about specific concerns they had and asked for an immediate reply via air mail.

They were understandably perplexed by a large gap left on page 164 in the sentence, "The shape of my body where I used to be a virgin is a        and I couldn't think..." Was it on purpose? The first edition, also in our collection, reveals that it was indeed intended.

But what caught our eye was a suggested rewrite of a sentence to shorten a page and, thus, keep a single line from appearing on the next page to end the chapter.  What was "Pa breathes quietly, with a faint, rasping sound, his jaw working the snuff slowly against his gums," became "Pa breathes with a quiet, rasping sound, mouthing the snuff against his gums." Same meaning, but a different rhythm and a different visceral sense.  One line less, one line less...

To see the proofs ask for MS 930469; for the first edition, Rare PZ3.F272 As.

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