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Several classic works of literature are destroyed

Several classic works of literature are destroyed

The arrival of some classics in the public domain leads to falsified and shoddy editions.

The original work was published in 1925

The Great Gatsby is one of the most widely read books in the world. It was published in 1925 by the American F. Scott Fitzgerald and retained its copyright until early 2021, when its 95-year term expired. Now, for better or for worse, the famous story is in the public domain.

This means it can be freely reproduced, leading to a “proliferation of edits of dubious quality” according to The Guardian. One of them, the British daily explains, “cuts out the last three pages and ends the story in the middle of a paragraph”.

Concern is growing as the great classics of Fitzgerald’s contemporaries, such as Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck, also jump into the public eye. Publisher James West is aware of the phenomenon and is signing a study on the subject, reviewing more than 30 reprints of Fitzgerald’s work.

“Six have been competently manufactured but the rest are very carefree and were only created to absorb part of the annual turnover,” he tells The Guardian. When the work was still protected, it is estimated that more than 500,000 copies were sold.

Fitzgerald’s text was manipulated in several editions. 17 of them had the dedication to Ms. Zelda removed. “Her name was erased, which is a serious issue as she was his muse and part of the inspiration for the character Daisy Buchanan.” For others, the author’s attribution was swapped for a publisher’s attribution.

Worse still, in some cases the text appears to have been translated into another language and then back into English, resulting in sentences and words being taken entirely out of context.

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