Tuesday, April 07, 2009

So, did Nancy have that fight with Ned? Or not?

Over at Geek Buffet, I'm comparing two different editions of

The Secret in the Old Attic Carolyn Keene

The original was written in 1944, the current edition first came out in 1970. Excitingly, there are big differences between the two! Many differences occur because of the passage in time. In 1970, it’s a bit of stretch for an elderly, but still active, gentleman to be so old that he fought in WWI. Not so in 1944. Also, a soldier who recently died in 1944 probably died in WWII. You also see things like rayon getting switched to poly and more phones in the 1970 edition.

Another thing that changed is race. In 1944, the house with the old attic has “old slave quarters” and Bess utters a horrible line idealizing happy slaves. All this is cut in the new edition. Additionally, the maid, Effie, speaks in a poor, lower class dialect in 1944. In 1970, she speaks “normally.” Effie’s race is never mentioned though.

Overall, 1970 is just much tighter. 1944 tends to have a lot of cliff-hanger scary chapter endings that are explained away as really being nothing in the first few sentences of the next chapter. The 1970 version cuts most of this out. Thankfully.

The biggest change is that 1944 contains a mini-mystery of a romantic subplot with Nancy and Ned. (Ned didn’t ask her to the dance! And some icky guy is really putting the pressure on Nancy to go to the dance with him instead.) This entire subplot is cut from the current edition, which is sad. It was my favorite part of the story and it was rather refreshing to see Nancy have some doubts, even though you knew it would all work out in the end. For a deeper comparison, check out the chapter-by-chapter play-by-play over at Geek Buffet!


Sara said...

Thanks for the detective work---er, analysis---very entertaining. I just pulled my Secret of the Old Clock off my mantle and looked at the pub date. 1959. Wonder what I would find in there? It says "this new story for today's readers is based on the original of the same title."

Jennie said...

I think the 1959 edition is the same version currently being published. The original is from 1930. I've read both (but didn't do the play-by-play) and recall the stories are pretty different.