It’s a well-known phenomenon that writers, artists and other creative types alike are, at the very least, incredibly close to their work. The tiniest change in detail, a spot of color there, a preposition change here means a great deal to the creator. It should only rightly follow, then, that the title of a book goes under a great deal of change and scrutiny and causes much consternation. Visual artists can get away with calling everything “Untitled #__,” but writers have this dilemma of having to use words. And we all know how hard it is to get words exactly, 100% beautifully right!
Despite all of this, it’s hard to imagine old favorites or tried and true classics ever being called anything else. I came across this article in Publishers Weekly yesterday (okay, Lauren showed it to me) revealing what the working titles for many old standbys were. Of course James Joyce would be super secretive about Finnegan’s Wake, and though I’ve never read more than 3 pages of the book before throwing it across the room, I can see where Work in Progress would have been applicable. The book does start in the middle of a sentence…
I love that Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? had to be changed to Who’s Afraid of Franz Kafka? in Prague for contextual and political reasons and I really, really, really wish that The Great Gatsby was called The High Bouncing Lover. Alas.
Could any of the “great books,” or even just famous books do with a better title? How many titles do you end up going through before settling on the perfect one? Can someone please write a book and call it The Terror of the Monster?