kidattypewriter

Friday, November 18, 2005

When The End Isn't The Finish

Sometimes, books I read have several blank pages at the back. I don't know why, but they do. Maybe the printers throw it in there for some reason, to round the number of page numbers up.

Maybe the writers always intended them to be there. Maybe they have a profound and deep and intimate significance; maybe it is impossible to understand the book without these blank pages.

Or then again, maybe the blank pages suggest that there is more of the book yet to be written. Maybe after the writer wrote THE END and sent the novel off to the publisher, they just decided to go on and keep on writing. It's a disturbing thought - is the writer really finished with what they're saying? Perhaps different editions of the same novel exist, where all or some of the blank pages are filled out; where the writer found what they wanted to say, and wrote it out, after all.

Or then again, it could be that the blank pages are simply there for you to fill out. Next time you pick up your copy of the classics, why not write your own version in the blank space at the bank?

The Little Old Curiosity Shop
Little Nells Uncle is a bad man. Little Nell dies. The End.

Hamlet
A young bloke can't decide what he wants to do for ten thousand lines, then kills everyone. The End.

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
There's this lion, see, only he's really Jesus, and there's these four children, and they have ever so much fun! The End.

Then again, it would be so much more sensible to write things like shopping lists or recipes in these blank pages. Hey, it's what the authors would have wanted.

12 comments:

Tim said...

I've always felt that the appearance of "The End" at, well, the end of a book is rather insulting to the reader's intelligence. Most people probably figure out that it's the end from the obvious fact that there isn't any more book to read.

As for blank pages, it's a publishing thing. Somebody once explained it to me, but I've forgotten. I don't think it was particularly interesting anyway.

nailpolishblues said...

'Perhaps different editions of the same novel exist, where all or some of the blank pages are filled out; where the writer found what they wanted to say, and wrote it out, after all.'
Reminds me very much of 'If On a Winter's Night a Traveller'

rachy said...

I've always wondered that, I will actually go off and think about this one and get back to you!

vague said...

NPB-- Weird. Just this second I came from the library where I checked out that book. Spoooooooky.

As to the blank pages, there is a reason, you're right. I would explain but it is as you suspect fairly boring. It has to do with the binding of the book and how many pages each "signature" (little sub-group of pages created by folding one huge piece of paper--think of the old books whose pages you have to cut open) has versus the total number of written-on pages in the book. Zzzzzz...

(Yeah, I am a complete nerd, and I do bookbinding.)

TimT said...

The Monty Python lads once did a trick where they put the end credits of a show in the middle.

It's not so bad having blank space at the end of a book. You can rest your eyes. It's like those silences before and after music. On some recordings, you can actually hear the players breath.

'If On a Winters Night' is a great book, though one of Calvino's more obscure efforts.

Hmmm ... a post on this blog that is about nothing. Literally. What a surprise.

Bozwell said...

Sometimes those blank pages at the end are the best part!!!!

Caz said...

tim - you do business doco's yes? (I gather, something like that.) You don't ever type "end document", for particular kinds of documents? It's fairly common.

On the other hand, I'm really pushed to think of the last time I read a book, fiction or non-fiction, which had "the end" at, you know, the end.

Blank pages - they must be getting better at filling the previously blank pages with fluff & crappy PR, for the author, or the publishers, as I know I don't come across that much anymore either.

vague - what a lovely occupation! How wonderful to know that there are real bookbinders still out there. But it does rather beg the question what a refined person such as your good self is doing hanging out in this low-rent joint. Tim could probably do with some binding from time to time, but I'm not sure it's the type of binding that would be in your normal repertoire

coffee and cigarettes said...

good point Bozwell, that was definitely my favourite part of reading Said and Huntington for Uni!

TimT said...

Tim could probably do with some binding from time to time, but I'm not sure it's the type of binding that would be in your normal repertoire.

Well, now, that depends, Caz. Will it be you and Vague doing the binding?

Jellyfish said...

I'm reminded of 'The BFG', where Roald Dahl suggests that atlases always have empty pages at either end so that there is room for them to draw in the new countries they discover (in this case, Giant Country). As a child I was always fascinated by this idea and believed it fervently for years.

nailpolishblues said...

Guess you don't need me to offer then...






...damn...

Ben O. said...

This is a really interesting post - I've always wondered about those dang pages too.

Ben O.

Email: timhtrain - at - yahoo.com.au

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