Did you know that P.G. Wodehouse?
once ate his own first draft of the novel “The Champion” in order to save a friend from embarrassment? Well, if that’s not enough to convince you, maybe this will: out of the 37 classic novels listed here, nine of them actually had their first draft eaten by someone else… including Wodehouse! With all this irresistible information at your disposal, what are you waiting for? This is an opportunity any reader would have to treasure.
List Of The Novels Are:
- Ulysses, James Joyce (1922)
A modernist novel, stream-of-consciousness narrative, and psychological study all roll into one, this chapter-by-chapter recreation of Homer’s “Odyssey” is probably the best famous of all first drafts ever eaten. Though different from the published version, the first draft was still good enough for Ezra Pound to recognize Joyce’s talent and have him submit it to his journal “The Egoist.” The publisher deemed it “unpublishable” and, following Pound’s advice to leave it by the wayside for a year, Joyce dutifully forgot about his magnum opus for a year. During this time, his wife had the first draft of the novel butchered and fed to their dog “Bolshevik,” which reportedly ate every single page of it. Upon realizing what has happen, Joyce was say to have remark: “Let him eat them. Such is fame!”
- Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad (1902)
Grotesque and violent, this novel about darkness and the heart of man was one of many short stories that eventually led to the author’s famous novel “Lord Jim.” It was also one of the few manuscripts that was eaten. While writing this story, Conrad and his wife met a university lecturer who happened to be the editor of a Budapest newspaper. Conrad convinced him to read it, and while they were discussing the merits of the story over lunch, he accidentally fell into a pond. The manuscript was later retrieved and sent off with a friend who promised to get it published in Budapest, but no one ever heard from him again.
- Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak (1956)
This novel was written in the style of “Pamela,” a French-language novel by Pierre Loti. The first draft was written in Russian and left at a railway station for a friend to pick up on his way to Moscow. Sadly, that also happened to be the last time it ever saw the light of day. In a later interview, Pasternak recalled his wife and friends’ reactions when they read it. Though they all agreed that it was an excellent and entertaining first draft. None of them could think of any way to make money off it. Pasternak believed that this happened because the manuscript was not made in a professional manner. He would eventually go on to write a different version, much longer and in a more modern prose style. This second draft was finally published in the late 1950s, over half a decade after the author’s passing.
- The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje (1992)
Many writers have tragic tales of their manuscripts going missing or being lost at sea. But few have stories as strange as this one. This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about a man and his lover’s plane crash during WWII was written in the style of a diary.
The author, who was at the time a Sri Lankan airline pilot. Had left the first draft in his luggage while he flew back to Canada. While those who picked it up assumed it was some kind of travel guide. They were soon disappointed when they discovered it was actually a novel. After they had gone through the first chapter, they were persuaded to read the rest. The remaining chapters were eventually published in literary magazines and newspapers across Canada.
- The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner (1929)
Faulkner’s most famous novel was also one of his first drafts. He wrote it in a hurry to earn some cash from a magazine publisher who wanted to print it in an issue that was due out soon. After submitting it, he had only forgot about it until several weeks later when the publisher sent him a letter. The publisher reported that the magazine had suffered heavy losses in sales and needed him to write another novel. In a rush to make more cash. Faulkner tried to remember what he could about this first draft and wrote a new version in under two weeks. He sent the new draft to the publisher and received $148 for it. A much better deal than what he had expected.
Perhaps not so surprisingly. “The Sound and the Fury” was Faulkner’s final novel, thus also the one that received his best critique. Of course, as is often the case with famed first drafts, this manuscript was not lost in obscurity forever. In a school assignment at Oxford University in 1976. Students were asked to write a short story. A short chapter of a novel based on items from their local library.
The first draft of “The Sound and the Fury” was discovered among a pile of papers by one of the students. Although it had been lost for many years. It was eventually published in 2010 by the South Carolina-based publication The Normal School.