I read this interesting story on the BBC about printing problems with Jonathan Franzen’s new novel “Freedom”; there’s more about it on the Guardian site here. When I was reading the book I noticed a couple of typos, but this is par for the course these days with the parlous state of proof-reading and copy-editing in the publishing industry. Rarely will I get through a new book without spotting at least one misspelled word, or a few punctuation marks out of place. In this case though, Franzen seems to be suggesting that a different draft of the novel altogether was published. I can’t find any other information about how significant the changes are between these drafts, if this is in fact what has happened. If the changes are minor, then I’m not sure I can be bothered going to the (admittedly small) effort of sending it back for a replacement, but if the changes are extensive, then I would be intrigued to see how different the two editions are. Would this bring into doubt the critical plaudits the novel has received so far (on this side of the Atlantic – there’s no suggestion the wrong edition was published in the USA)? Textual differences are the domain of the philologist or literary historian, and drafts are usually compared once the author is safely dead. I can’t think of any other recent example when a major novelist has had to plead with his audience not to read his book when it’s been out for over a week.