Orthogonal Thought | Random musings from the creator of Cooking For Engineers and Lead Architect of Fanpop





Non-American Novels and Name Changes

Posted 3 May, 2007 at 10:37pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Books)

So, I was thinking, why do they keep altering the names of novels when they publish them here in the United States? They don't do it all the time, but I don't necessarily understand when they choose to. The two main examples on my mind are Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone which was renamed Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone and His Dark Materials 1: Northern Lights which carries the name His Dark Materials 1: The Golden Compass. The Harry Potter example never made sense to me - what's a sorceror's stone? I understand most young readers won't know what a philosopher's stone is/was but at least it's a term that has been historically used and has some meaning. Sorceror's stone doesn't mean anything. I guess I can understand why the Northen Lights was renamed because the other two books have titles that are objects that can be held while the Northen Lights is a bit vague and may sound like a science book.

4 comments to Non-American Novels and Name Changes

LAN3, May 5th, 2007 at 8:01 pm:

  • I do think that Brits fancy that Americans are thick as posts when it comes to naming their media. They renamed "The Madness of King George III" to "The Madness of King George" because they assumed that people would believe it to be a second sequel and that they should see the first two movies before watching The Madness. Likewise "Crocodile Dundee" became "'Crocodile' Dundee" because it was feard that Americans would believe it to be a creature-horror movie. Sure, they just edited the murderous crocs and dead-teenager-horror out of the romantic-comedy commercials and trailers. (Okay, so that's an Aussie movie, but Oz is still a Dominion nation.)

    Whenever I've conversed with Brits and fellow Americans on the topic of the HDM book title, anyone with any affection for the book will invariably insist that the title for his nation is superior, and Brits in my sample don't seem to think it's the least bit significant that Northern Lights doesn't fit the object theme. Go figure.

LAN3, May 5th, 2007 at 8:09 pm:

  • Oh, and Weinstein is reporting to the UK paper "The Guardian" that Americans walked out after the first feature, Robert Rodriguez's "Planet Terror," because we didn't get the concept of the double feature, and hence why the movies will be released separately in the UK. Yes, we're that thick.

    Or more likely Weinstein figured out that movies at twice the normal length will have half as many showings during the day, no matter how many screens you release it on, and they were charging a one-movie price for the double feature. Releasing a pair of ultra-violent movies on Easter weekend might've been a boneheaded move as well, moneywise; they weren't exactly family movies for a traditionally family weekend.

Michael Chu, May 5th, 2007 at 9:04 pm:

  • That's funny, now that you mention it, when I watched Grindhouse I thought the people leaving were going to the bathroom (like I wanted to). It didn't occur to me that they might be actually leaving. That's too bad because I really liked "Death Proof".

J Greely, May 6th, 2007 at 10:58 pm:

  • Scholastic made a number of changes to the first four Harry Potter books, to better suit their target market. This reflects their status as a children's book publisher, not a general American stupidity. They've been editing and abridging novels for decades.

    And LAN3 is not entirely correct about The Madness of King George.