Soooo… Read the book, decided to check the film out on youtube. Ran into this 10-minute preview, which I thought perfect for satisfying my curiosity. And I saw the English literature teacher, Mr. Anderson, whom I liked so much in the book. Check him out from about 5:30.
Ermmm… What the hell was that?!
1. Which author invented the paperback book?
Answer: None that I know of. ‘Paperback’ is basically a term describing a really simple idea: soft, inexpensive covers for books, bringing the price down and enabling higher sales. There wasn’t much invention to be done there, considering that they already had papers and magazines. The idea sort of sprouted up with several publishers. I don’t know who was first.
It definitely wasn’t Dickens.
2. “[Dickens] also invented the serial.”
Answer: No, he didn’t. He just made good use of it and popularized it, with his first novel, The Pickwick Papers.
3. “In fact, at the end of the third chapter of his first novel, he had a man hanging from a cliff by his fingernails, hence the term ‘cliffhanger’.”
Answer: Who, Charles Dickens?! No way. His first novel was, as I’ve mentioned above, The Pickwick Papers. Which is a series about a few gentlemen and their (mis)adventures. Quite charming. Quite gentlemanly. Nobody goes through anything truly physically threatening, as far as I recall, although there’s a bit of an issue with prison.
The ending of chapter 3:
The dismal man readily complied; a circle was again formed round the table, and harmony once more prevailed. Some lingering irritability appeared to find a resting-place in Mr. Winkle’s bosom, occasioned possibly by the temporary abstraction of his coat—though it is scarcely reasonable to suppose that so slight a circumstance can have excited even a passing feeling of anger in a Pickwickian’s breast. With this exception, their good-humour was completely restored; and the evening concluded with the conviviality with which it had begun.
The cliffhanger scene happens in somebody else’s novel: Thomas Hardy’s A Pair of Blue Eyes. It wasn’t his first novel – it was his third. But, to the teacher’s credit, it was the first one that Hardy put his name on. The scene is at the end of chapter 21:
As he slowly slid inch by inch upon these, Knight made a last desperate dash at the lowest tuft of vegetation—the last outlying knot of starved herbage ere the rock appeared in all its bareness. It arrested his further descent. Knight was now literally suspended by his arms; but the incline of the brow being what engineers would call about a quarter in one, it was sufficient to relieve his arms of a portion of his weight, but was very far from offering an adequately flat face to support him.
There’s a bit of dialogue before the chapter ends. By the way, I haven’t read this particular book (although I knew of the scene), but Google was my friend. It should’ve been the scriptwriter’s as well.
Urgh. Movies about school shouldn’t, you know, misinform people.