Most people would probably say that books aren’t very sexy, and in a world where stuffy old bound stacks of paper have to compete with brilliant 3D LCD displays for people’s attention, publishers sometimes go to great lengths in order to keep readers interested (and buying books). Ernest Hemingway famously said he rewrote the ending of his classic A Farewell to Arms “39 times before [he] was satisfied,” and now Scribner, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, is publishing an edition of that novel that will include 47 different endings.
Ernest Hemingway’s grandson Sean Hemingway told the New York Times, “I think people who are interested in writing and trying to write themselves will find it interesting to look at a great work and have some insight to how it was done,” which is probably true. The other side, of course, is that the ending Hemingway published is the ending he intended to be read, and there’s a chance he might be aghast to know that readers will be able to pick up a version of his novel with all of the scraps from the cutting room floor attached. Maybe this will be the beginning of a trend. Who wouldn’t be fascinated to know what other endings E.L. James considered for Fifty Shades of Grey?