A piece of literature is abridged in content and length so that it is suitable for kids. Interestingly, this is often not objectionable material such as violence, but more things like excess description
, sappy romance
, or long monologues
, as these things are considered less likely to be palatable to a child's attention span. Usually the essential part of the story structure is still maintained. Note that this doesn't necessarily exonerate them - Ray Bradbury
ranted extensively in the coda of Fahrenheit 451
about how abridging great works of literature was just as bad as burning them.
When done in book form this will commonly feature illustrations added in, though this most definitely does not
make them Comic Books
. This is also, oddly enough, done to books that were already aimed at younger readers in the first place, such as Alice in Wonderland
The "abridged" nature can also vary widely depending on whether the tone or the length itself is what's being trimmed. The Reader's Digest Condensed Version of The Open Window
, for example, only cut the last line. You can probably guess why
Compare with Bowdlerized
, which is abridged for possibly offensive material. See also Disneyfication
. Not to be confused with The Abridged Series
Folklore and Mythology
- Most versions of classic Fairy Tales such as "Sleeping Beauty" and "Snow White" tend to leave out the endings, such as when the Prince's mother is actually an ogress who wants to eat her grandchildren.
- Ladybird Books
- Great Illustrated Classics are a good example of long literature pared down for younger readers in a way that preserves the integrity of the story while bringing the denser works like "Moby Dick" and "Great Expectations" down to the level of younger readers by simplifying the language.
- There was a junior edition of Jurassic Park when the film came out, but it was based on the film rather than the original novel.
- Gullivers Travels has appeared in children's abridgements, generally consisting only of the Lilliput and Brobdingnag sections, as tiny and gigantic people were thought to be easier for kids to relate to than scientific frauds, Blessed with Suck immortals, historical satire and out-and-out misanthropy. The Lilliputian-fire extinguishing scene is always naturally euphemized.
- The Thousand And One Nights has also seen a number of children's editions, leaving out the erotic and scatalogical tales. As well as the fact that the entire book is based on a woman's spinning wild "cliffhanger" tales, in order to avoid being killed by her paranoid-jealous husband (to prevent her from cheating on him), by keeping him in suspense to hear the ending!
- The old Classics Illustrated comic books.
- This is the in-story reason Mr. Goldman abridged The Princess Bride. He wanted his kids to enjoy it, and there was far too much boring stuff. However, he did leave in all the torture and death (though he does warn us about what's coming at one point, telling us that this isn't Curious George Uses The Potty). Mr. Goldman's (in-story) father's Good Parts abridgment fits the trope more accurately. He tried to leave out the scary parts until he was called on it.
- Black Beauty gets this.
- Moby Books Illustrated Classic Editions abridged classic novels to a couple of hundred pages — small pages, large print, and one page in each double-page spread had an illustration instead of text. The Moby Books edition of The Count of Monte Cristo is an interesting case study in what's considered appropriate for young readers: most of the book is devoted to the early section with Edmond being wrongfully imprisoned, befriending and learning from a fellow prisoner, and escaping, and then the whole rest of the book is done away with in a few pages. The Count of Monte Cristo's hardly in it.
- Les MisÚrables is called (affectionately?) by its readers "the Brick", resulting in multiple attempts to shorten it—however, this is not an easy text to abridge. Cut versions always leave the revolution subplot in the dust. Fantine's story is castrated, and all character development not centered on Valjean and Javert is pretty much obliterated. Hugo's tableau of France invariably turns into a good and evil story (Valjean and Javert) with a romance subplot (Marius and Cosette) thrown in.
- The show and the Adventures of Wishbone books are the more familiar version, with modern-day scenes interspersed with the abridged literature with one of the characters being played by a dog. Wishbone Classics was just the abridged novel with occasional commentary from Wishbone from the sides; some of that was also summaries of skipped scenes.
Religion and Mythology
- Charles Schulz poked fun at this trope in an early 60's Peanuts comic strip:
Violet: What are you reading?
Charlie Brown: This is an adaptation of Sherlock Holmes.
Violet: An adaptation?
Charlie Brown: Yes, it's been adapted for children... It's not unlike drinking diluted root beer!
- The Bible gets this treatment, which is quite understandable when you actually read it for yourself and realise just how horrific some of the worst bits are (the Crucifixion itself falls a long way behind being the worst it gets). Examples include a woman literally being raped to death, a process that continues through the night and ends with her lifeless body being found on the doorstep the next morning (and it just gets worse from there).