The top ten: Original titles of novels
John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, and visiting professor at Queen Mary, University of London, where he teaches contemporary history. Previously he was chief leader writer for The Independent. He has written a biography of Tony Blair, whom he admired more at the end of his time in office than he did at the beginning.
Sunday 15 September 2013
Very few great novels would have been better with their early titles. I should report, though, that some people did not take this week's list seriously. The original title of 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' was not 'Murder at Midnight', Michael Deacon. Nor, Tom Chivers, was 'Wuthering Heights' going to be called 'Captain Zapstar and the Death-Robots of Omnicron 19'.
1. The Man of Feeling Lucky Jim, by Kingsley Amis.
2. Strangers from Within In the care of Faber editor Charles Monteith, this emerged as Lord of the Flies, according to Faber editor Richard T Kelly.
3. Pop, girls etc The working title of High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby. Nominated by Robert Hutton.
4. Catch-18 The first chapter of my favourite novel was published in a magazine under this title, but it clashed with Leon Uris's Mila 18.
5. The Last Man in Europe A lot of nominations for Nineteen Eighty-Four.
6. Trimalchio in West Egg One of many horrible titles dithered over by F Scott Fitzgerald before he decided on The Great Gatsby.
7. The Kingdom by the Sea Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov.
8. Four-and-a-Half Years of Struggle Against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice Or Mein Kampf. Nominated by Daniel Hannan and Mark Wallace.
9. The Dead Undead Several nominations, including from David Tuck, for the working title of Bram Stoker's book, which became The Undead and then Dracula.
10. Tomorrow is Another Day Margaret Mitchell was just going to use the last line of Gone With the Wind.
Next week: Films panned as turkeys that are actually quite good
Coming soon: Great bands with terrible names. Send your suggestions (by 24 September), and ideas for future Top 10s, to firstname.lastname@example.org
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Stamford Hill council removes 'unacceptable' posters telling women which side of the road to walk down
- 2 Kim Kardashian 'nude pictures' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence 'The Fappening' scandal
- 3 Scottish referendum 'English question': Tory MPs call on David Cameron to create an English first minister in wake of No vote
- 4 Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
- 5 Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned into a PR disaster
Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea's 'Booty' music video is just a load of butts
Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written
Friends 20th anniversary: The highs and lows of the cast's careers since TV series ended in 2004
Doctor Who, Time Heist, review: Keeley Hawes is marvellous but the Doctor is the real villain
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'