Hemingway famously said that he re-wrote the ending of A Farewell to Arms 39 times before he got it right. Turns out, it was actually 47. And you’ll be able to read them all, along with early drafts of essential passages, in a new edition of the book coming out this week from Scribner.
That there are so effing many alternate endings certainly says something about Hemingway and his approach to the craft. I guess we’ll find out exactly what it says soon enough. Like, are these alternates differently-written versions of the same events, or completely different final moments? Burning questions, I have them!
Until I get some answers, I’ll be sitting here captivated by this idea and curious about what alternate endings other authors might have left on the cutting room floor (or crumpled in the office wastebasket, as it were). Did J.K. Rowling consider letting Voldemort win? What if Owen Meany hadn’t mastered that trick? Maybe it wasn’t Dimmesdale after all!
Dish it, dear readers: what authors’ alternate endings and writing notes would you most like to get your mitts on?