What Classic Novels Were Almost Called
Mental Floss—a stellar website if you’ve never been, by the way—recently listed what some famous classic novels were almost called.
I found the list fascinating—it’s a literary “what might have been,” and it makes me wonder how the fate of these books might have changed if the original title had stuck.
- The Great Gatsby had all sort of titles including, 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. Did I read that last one correctly? The High-Bouncing Lover? What the…? Just goes to show that even the most celebrated authors don’t knock it out of the park on their first try. It’s a process.
- 1984 was almost called The Last Man in Europe had Orwell’s publisher not intervened. That title sounds more apocalyptic than dystopian. Good move by the publisher.
- Atlas Shrugged was referred to by Ayn Rand as The Strike for a long time before it was published. According to Mental Floss, she felt that the title gave too much away and her husband suggested Atlas Shrugged.
- Bram Stoker called his famous novel The Dead Un-Dead before he changed it to Dracula. What a horrible title that would’ve been.
- Catch 22 was originally titled Catch 11, but it was changed to avoid confusion with the original Ocean’s Eleven movie, which was new in theaters at the time. He chose 22 because it was 11 doubled.
- To Kill A Mockingbird could’ve been known as Atticus if Harper Lee hadn’t changed the title. She thought it focused too much on one character, although, let’s be honest, Atticus is the star.
- Joyce’s Dubliners could’ve been more awkwardly titled Ulysses in Dublin. The novel included characters who would reappear in Ulysses when it was published a few years later.
What would the literary landscape had been like if 1984 was known as The Last Man In Europe? Or To Kill A Mockingbird had been named Atticus?
Crazy to think about, isn’t it? Head over to Mental Floss to see a few other “what might have been” titles.