Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

A tale of titles

Old books

Imagine a time when you could actually judge a book by its cover — or by its title, anyway.

Reader, there was such a time! It was the 18th century.

Have a gander at this list of real novel titles from the seventeen hundreds and wish that we could be as plain-spoken and transparent today.

Instead of vague titles like The Luminaries, The Circle, or, indeed, Yesterday Road, books back then revealed exactly what you were getting into:

Atrocities of a Convent

‘Twas Wrong To Marry Him

Secrets In Every Mansion

A Novel Of Novel Kind — An Evening’s Amusement For Yourself And Friends, At Which Every One Is Invited To Laugh, But No One Obliged To Cry

And I’m especially fond of: The Adventures Of An Irish Smock, Interspersed With Whimsical Anecdotes Of A Nankeen Pair Of Breeches.

Maybe we should start a new Truth In Titles movement. It’d sure make things a lot easier!


11 comments on “A tale of titles

  1. islandeditions
    August 18, 2014

    I kinda like this recent title I discovered: What Would Jesus Post?: Seven Principles Christians Should Follow in Social Media

    You’ve got to love their certainty that Jesus would even use social media Himself. I mean, wouldn’t He have a PA to do that for him?

    • Kevin Brennan
      August 18, 2014

      Well, I’ve been following his father on Twitter for a while now… @TheTweetOfGod. Who knew He had such a sense of humor?! 😉

  2. John W. Howell
    August 18, 2014

    Reminds me of the old joke about the song writer who couldn’t sell his beautiful song. He was playing it when an agent came up and told him it was the most-beautiful song he had ever heard. The songwriter thanked him and when prompted told the agent the song has yet to be sold. “What is the title?” the agent asked. The songwriter replied without looking up from the keyboard, “I Love You so Much I Can’t Shit.”

  3. Amyclae
    August 18, 2014

    ‘BACK IN THE DAY’ there were always great alternate titles. Like Locke’s Two Treatises of Government is, alternatively, “Two reatises of Government: In the Former, The False Principles, and Foundation of Sir Robert Filmer, and His Followers, Are Detected and Overthrown. The Latter Is an Essay Concerning The True Original, Extent, and End of Civil Government.”

  4. ericjbaker
    August 18, 2014

    I’d like to see how 20th century novels translate.

    The Grapes of Wrath = Poverty, with Dirt

    Breakfast of Champions = Eccentric Weirdos Doing Unrealistic Things Humorously

    The Stand = An Exceptionally Long Story About Plague

    Naked Lunch = The Result of Heroin on the Mind of a Writer, Put into a Semblance of Order by His Freinds

    • ericjbaker
      August 18, 2014

      but spelled “friends.”

    • Kevin Brennan
      August 19, 2014

      Ha! Those are brill, man!

      The Old Man And The Sea = I’m In A Boat!

  5. denizb33
    August 24, 2014

    Fun! I hadn’t seen many of these before. Should try finding a couple if I ever get to visit the British Library again…

    • Kevin Brennan
      August 25, 2014

      I’m dying to write a book that uses one of these! Let me know what you find at the BL. 😉

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This entry was posted on August 18, 2014 by in Publishing and tagged , .
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