Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Bradbury's British Debut

Sixty-two years and one month ago the British Guardian newspaper carried its first review of a writer's first book. The book was Dark Carnival by Ray Bradbury, in its British edition from Hamish Hamilton publishers - which was slightly different from the US Arkham House edition.

Here, in its entirety, is what reviewer Charles Marriott had to say of young Bradbury's first short story collection:

Ingenuity rather than imagination is responsible for the twenty stories in Dark Carnival by Ray Bradbury, with the result that, though several of them, like the title one, are painstakingly nasty, they do not make your flesh creep. It is a dangerous thing for a young writer to get a reputation for the macabre.

With hindsight, I think it's safe to say that the reputation for the macabre didn't do Bradbury any harm.

I am rather baffled, though, by that phrase "like the title one", because Dark Carnival doesn't have a title story! The contents of the Hamish Hamilton edition were as follows:

The Homecoming
The Jar
The Lake
The Tombstone
The Smiling People
The Emissary
The Traveller
The Small Assassin
The Crowd
The Handler
Let's Play 'Poison'
Uncle Einar
The Wind
The Night
There Was an Old Woman
The Dead Man
The Man Upstairs
The Next in Line

If you are familiar with the US edition of Dark Carnival, you will notice that missing from the table of contents are "The Maiden", "Reunion", "The Coffin", "Interim", "Jack in the Box", "The Scythe", "The Night Sets". I believe post-war paper shortages were partly responsible for the UK edition being reduced from the US version.

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