It was that edition of Jane Eyre that first opened my eyes to that word “Abridged.” Much of the story made no sense at all, but I put it down to me being young and the writer being Victorian and nothing in the adult world really making sense. Why did Jane get on a stage coach, get off it a few hours later and almost immediately be found starving by St John Rivers? I knew that I could get quite peckish in a couple of hours, but I’d never swooned with hunger after one coach journey. Years later, I read the Penguin classic version of Jane Eyre and discovered all the vast chunks that had been left out of the Regency edition, including the days Jane spends wandering on the moors, resorting to pig swill in her desperation. It read as a completely different book. After that, I was able to go back over all the books I’d read in my childhood and discover the full unabridged versions. Like coming across a book for the first time.
I have yet to tackle the unabridged version of Moby Dick. Maybe that’s because I never could bring myself to tackle the unabridged version. Sorry about that, Herman.