40 Days and a Mule

by Henry on September 15, 2009

This , via Making Light, is pretty awesome.

Book Titles, If They Were Written Today

  • Then: The Wealth of Nations
    Now: Invisible Hands: The Mysterious Market Forces That Control Our Lives and How to Profit from Them
  • Then: Walden
    Now: Camping with Myself: Two Years in American Tuscany
  • Then: The Theory of the Leisure Class
    Now: Buying Out Loud: The Unbelievable Truth About What We Consume and What It Says About Us
  • Then: The Gospel of Matthew
    Now: 40 Days and a Mule: How One Man Quit His Job and Became the Boss
  • Then: The Prince
    Now: The Prince (Foreword by Oprah Winfrey)

Further suggestions solicited in comments.

{ 80 comments }

1

Doug T 09.15.09 at 3:13 pm

Plutarch’s Lives
Lead like a Roman: Management Tips from the Ancients.

2

Richard J 09.15.09 at 3:17 pm

Then: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Now: Christ Almighty! Why Rome fell, and how we can stop it happening to us.

3

Kieran Healy 09.15.09 at 3:22 pm

Then: The Communist Manifesto.
Now: The Work Revolution: How to Survive and Thrive in Today’s New Economy.

4

Chris Williams 09.15.09 at 3:25 pm

Then: The Book of Job
Now: “Who Moved This Dungheap?” – How To Adapt To Change

5

P O'Neill 09.15.09 at 3:26 pm

Now: Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change

Then: An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of Hillary Clinton

6

b9n10nt 09.15.09 at 3:35 pm

can we play the game in reverse?

Now: Dow 36,000: The New Strategy for Profiting From the Coming Rise in the Stock Market

Then: Gold 47 Oxen, on a Theory of the Wealth of Savages and Her Majesty’s Coin

7

Cosma Shalizi 09.15.09 at 3:40 pm

Then: Letters Concerning the English Nation

Now: The Creation of the Modern World: The Untold Story of the British Enlightenment

8

Delicious Pundit 09.15.09 at 3:43 pm

Then: The Wealth Of Nations
Now: The Pin: The Fastener That Changed The World.

Then: Lyrical Ballads
Now: Strictly 4 My Lakerz

Then: Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius
Now: Stone Soup For The Soul

This is fun.

9

Richard J 09.15.09 at 3:43 pm

Now: Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq

Then: Towards a recounting of the late Farrago in MESOPOTAMIA by the Armed Forces of the AMERICAN Republic, including several diuersions of Interest to concerned GENTLEFOLK on the propinquity and foolhardiness of that most despis’d Clique of American Politickers that has brought that Country’s policy towards other nations close to DISASTER. (With numerous engravngs. illustrating points throu’ out.)

10

ben 09.15.09 at 3:49 pm

Then: The City of God against the Pagans

Now: The Exurb of God against the Liberals

11

Delicious Pundit 09.15.09 at 3:51 pm

One more…

Then: Walden
Now: Simplicity for Dummies

12

Cryptic ned 09.15.09 at 4:09 pm

Then: The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women
Now: Kicking Against the Chicks: How Men Can Reclaim Our Place in the Monarchy, Society, and the Bedroom

13

jamie 09.15.09 at 4:37 pm

Then: Origin of the Species

Now: It’s A Feature, Not A Bug: how the history of everything became who we are today.

14

J. Fisher 09.15.09 at 4:39 pm

Not sure which direction works best for mine, if mine even works at all. Play around with it, as you wish:

Then: A Modest Proposal
Now: 18 Kids and Counting

15

JLR 09.15.09 at 4:48 pm

Then: Divina Commedia

Now: Beatrice’s Eyes: One Man’s Journey from Damnation to Salvation

16

ajay 09.15.09 at 5:26 pm

Now: any damn vampire romance
Then: Him and Haemophagia

Then: Moby Dick
Now: Harpooneer Four Zero

17

Ginger Yellow 09.15.09 at 5:33 pm

Surely:
The Prince: How To Win Over Enemies And Influence People

Then: Leviathan
Now: Life’s A Bitch And Then You Die: Why Monarchy Rocks

Then: The Consolation Of Philosophy
Now: Jailbird Blues

Then: The Canterbury Tales
Now: The Cook, The Thief, The Wife Of Bath And Her Lover

18

roac 09.15.09 at 5:43 pm

#1 is till the best so far.

19

liz 09.15.09 at 6:16 pm

Then: Opticks
Now: God’s Spectrum: 16 Experiments That Will Change the Way We See the World

Then: Emma
Now: Surly in Surrey (An Emma Woodhouse Novel)

Then: Children’s and Household Tales (or Grimm’s Fairy Tales)
Now: Ghosts, Wolves, Spiders, and Spooks: 200 210 Scary Tales

20

M. Gordon 09.15.09 at 6:21 pm

Then: Principia Mathematica
Now: Falling Down: What An Apple Can Teach Us About The Stars, Planets, and Cosmos

21

mollymooly 09.15.09 at 6:24 pm

Le Maistre Chat, ou le Chat Botté > The Cat in the Hat

22

M. Gordon 09.15.09 at 6:25 pm

Ah, I see I was beaten to it in the comments to the original post, and in a strikingly similar fashion:
> then: Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Newton)
> now: Why Do Apples Fall Down and Not Up? Answers From The Cutting Edge of Physics

23

Chris Bertram 09.15.09 at 6:29 pm

Then: The Declaration of Independence
Now: Exposed! The Liberal Conspiracy for a Godless Nation

24

Adam Kotsko 09.15.09 at 6:33 pm

Then: Augustine’s Confessions
Now: Thanks for the Memories: How a Toothache and a Nagging Mother Led Me to Christ

25

Substance McGravitas 09.15.09 at 6:36 pm

Then: Oliver Twist; or, The Parish Boy’s Progress
Now: All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Child Abusers

26

Jeet Heer 09.15.09 at 7:05 pm

Terry Carr edited the old Ace Double series of paperback originals which specialized in pulp science fiction (some of these books, by P.K. Dick and ohters, are now recognized as classics). Carr once said, “If the Holy Bible were printed as an Ace Double, it would be cut down to two 20,000-word halves with the Old Testament retitled as Master of Chaos and the New Testament as The Thing with Three Souls.’

27

I EAT YOUR CHILDREN (not really) 09.15.09 at 7:25 pm

Then: Hamlet
Now: Something’s Rotten in the State of Denmark: How Royal Backstabbing Toppled a Once-Mighty Nation

28

Anderson 09.15.09 at 8:07 pm

Then: Oedipus Rex.

Now: Oedipal Sex.

29

Anderson 09.15.09 at 8:11 pm

Another version would be “Then” vs. “Now, If Written by Robert Ludlum.”

Then: History of the Peloponnesian War.

Ludlum: The Sicilian Objective.

Then: Don Quixote

Ludlum: The La Mancha Directive.

30

Arthur Golgo Lucas 09.15.09 at 8:15 pm

Then: The Bible

Now: 73 Amazing Stories To Read With Your Family

31

Maurice Meilleur 09.15.09 at 8:17 pm

Then: A Hunger Artist
Now: Thin to Win!

32

Sperry 09.15.09 at 8:56 pm

I like the Ludlum Variation:

Then: On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies
Ludlum: The Minkowski Directive

Then: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
Ludlum: The Cock and Bull Vector

33

jacob 09.15.09 at 9:03 pm

Kieran wins the thread, in my view.

34

Substance McGravitas 09.15.09 at 9:14 pm

Then: Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences
Now: Who Moved My Church?

35

Anderson 09.15.09 at 9:17 pm

Then: Institutes of the Christian Religion

Now: Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t: Why You Are Predestined to Buy This Book (and Go to Hell Anyway)

36

Anand 09.15.09 at 9:35 pm

Then : Oedipus Rex
Now : Oedipus : A story of Feeding, Fleeing, Fighting and Mating

37

engels 09.15.09 at 9:47 pm

Then: The Divine Comedy
Now: Dealing with a Midlife Crisis

or maybe

Our Big Trip Down Under — Dan and Bea’s Travel Blog

38

Substance McGravitas 09.15.09 at 9:54 pm

Then: Candide: or, Optimism
Now: Chicken Soup for the Soul

39

5150 09.15.09 at 10:22 pm

Then: The Scarlet Letter

Now: The Scarlet Ladies, in Hott Bi-Boston Nites

40

jholbo 09.16.09 at 12:58 am

“Terry Carr edited the old Ace Double series of paperback originals which specialized in pulp science fiction (some of these books, by P.K. Dick and ohters, are now recognized as classics). Carr once said, “If the Holy Bible were printed as an Ace Double, it would be cut down to two 20,000-word halves with the Old Testament retitled as Master of Chaos and the New Testament as The Thing with Three Souls.’”

That’s great! thanks Jeet Heer! (And I really really enjoyed “Arguing Comics”, by the by.)

41

Jesus McQueen 09.16.09 at 1:44 am

Then: “To his Coy Mistress”
Now: LGBNAF

42

Harry 09.16.09 at 2:09 am

Then: Richard III
Now: Hunchback: How a Serial Killer Married His Victim’s Wife, Murdered His Nephews, and Became King of England.

Then: Henry IV Part II and Henry V
Now: Drunken Hero: How a Dissolute Alcoholic Became King of England And Conquered France

Not Yet Written: Charles IV
Now: Big Ears: How the Dullest Man In The World Became King of England and Abolished the Monarchy.

43

Donald Johnson 09.16.09 at 2:51 am

Then: Pride and Prejudice

Now: Pride and Prejudice and Zomb…. oh nevermind.

44

andthenyoufall 09.16.09 at 3:10 am

Then and Now, Platonis Opera edition

Then: Phaedo
Now: What to Expect When You’re Expecting To Be Executed

Then: Meno
Now: Math Tips to Re-Live By: Ace the SAT, the ACT, and the GRE by remembering your past lives

Then: Critias
Now: Secrets of Atlantis REVEALED!

Then: Ion
Now: Rhappin’ and Keepin’ it Real

Then: Symposium
Now: Greek Love: Seven friends, ten handles, a party that no one will ever forget

45

Sandra Johnson 09.16.09 at 3:10 am

Then: Sun Tzu’s The Art of War

Now: How To Win Friends and Influence People … Without Being Wimpy

46

Everett 09.16.09 at 3:27 am

In post #23 Chris Bertram said:

“Then: The Declaration of Independence
Now: Exposed! The Liberal Conspiracy for a Godless Nation”

So, you are saying that if published today the Declaration of Independence would be ridiculed as a product of the irrational radical right? Sadly, I agree with you, although I believe Jefferson would find both the modern right and left deplorable

You could add: Then: The US Constitution and Bill of Rights
Now: Quaint Ideas Proposed by the Socially Naive

47

andthenyoufall 09.16.09 at 3:42 am

Actually, maybe Ion should be: “Keep Your Ion The Prize: 50 lessons in strategy from Ancient Greece’s Poet-Generals”

48

Martin Bento 09.16.09 at 4:06 am

Then: Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus

Now: Creative Recycling: What to Do With Relatives Who Don’t Prepay Their Funerals

49

Martin Bento 09.16.09 at 4:16 am

Then: Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Now: What’s a Man Worth and How the Free Market Can Tell Us

50

Henry (not the famous one) 09.16.09 at 4:35 am

Then: The Impending Crisis of the South: How To Meet It
Now: White Like Me

Then: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Now: Huck Honey

Then: Die Verwaendlung
Now: Buggin: When Your Family Is Just Too Much and Work Just Won’t Work

51

Martin Bento 09.16.09 at 4:43 am

Then: The Song of Songs

Now: The Jewish Kama Sutra: In Verse Like You Wouldn’t Believe

52

Joshua Holmes 09.16.09 at 5:34 am

then: The Great Gatsby
now: Lost Secrets of Success from a Roaring Decade!

then: The Bible
now: My Heavens! How to Reach Eternal Bliss After You Die (And Maybe Right Now, Too!)

then: The Republic
now: Discover Your Inner Philosopher: Secrets of Justice That You Already Know!

then: The Gospel of Thomas
now: The Jesus “They” Don’t Want You to Know About!

then: A Modest Proposal
now: Lose Weight Fast with the Irish Diet!

53

JoB 09.16.09 at 7:22 am

A la recherche de temps à perdre.

54

alex 09.16.09 at 7:37 am

I believe Salman Rushdie is credited with this Ludlum variation on Hamlet: The Elsinore Vacillation…

55

Martin Bento 09.16.09 at 7:46 am

Then: 1984
Now: Finding the Big Brother Within You

Then: The Maypole of Merry Mount
Now: Hot Dirty Hippie Chicks Love Discipline From Master

Then: The Masque of the Red Death
Now: Find Peace at Last in a Gated Community!

56

Martin Bento 09.16.09 at 8:03 am

Then: Faust
Now: How to Pay for Higher Education

Then: The Power and the Glory
Now: Twelve Steps to Sobriety and Avoiding Revolutionary Police

Then: The Ramayana
Now: 101 Uses for a Talking Monkey

57

Alex 09.16.09 at 10:55 am

Then: Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

Now: The Black Swan…

58

ogmb 09.16.09 at 12:04 pm

Not Yet Written: Charles IV
Now: Big Ears: How the Dullest Man In The World Became King of England and Abolished the Monarchy.

Not yet born, you mean.

59

rm 09.16.09 at 2:40 pm

to continue Andthenyoufall’s Plato series:

Then: The Phaedrus
Now: Talkin’ ‘Bout Love: Ancient Egyptian Secrets for Communicating With Your Lover

I took #23 to mean that the Declaration of Independence would be seen today as a dangerous Godless Liberal threat to God’s America. It could only be packaged as evidence of treason against those un-American traitors Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, et alii. This thought finally makes it clear to me what they mean when they say “I want America back.” They mean colonial America, of course.

60

Miracle Max 09.16.09 at 2:47 pm

Then: Das Kapital
Now: Create Your Own Economy

Then: Ten Days That Shook the World
Now: Blink

Then: The Mass Strike: The Political Party and the Trade Unions
Now: The Wisdom of Crowds

Your classics are not my classics.

61

ajay 09.16.09 at 3:27 pm

This thought finally makes it clear to me what they mean when they say “I want America back.” They mean colonial America, of course.

Accountable government, a dependable legal system, and a complete ban on torture?

62

ajay 09.16.09 at 3:28 pm

Not Yet Written: Charles IV
Now: Big Ears: How the Dullest Man In The World Became King of England and Abolished the Monarchy.

And, per 58, Charles would of course be Charles III, not Charles IV; and in any case it’s my understanding that he plans to take the throne as George VII.

63

agenbite 09.16.09 at 3:31 pm

Then: The Imitation of Christ
Now: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Monks

64

agenbite 09.16.09 at 3:48 pm

Then: Psychopathia Sexualis
Now: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Monkeys

65

bobinca 09.16.09 at 5:49 pm

Then: The Jungle
Now: Tainted Meat: How Acorn Wants to Stuff Your Sausage with Socialism.

66

Picador 09.16.09 at 6:37 pm

Then: On the Origin of Species
Now: “chuckd.blogspot.com”, a typical example of the loony, hateful, religion-bashing left-wing blogosphere

67

Henri Vieuxtemps 09.16.09 at 7:10 pm

What, nothing on the Hippocratic Oath? Oh, I don’t know: Health Care Reform: Good Intentions, Bad Ideas?

68

Lee A. Arnold 09.16.09 at 7:15 pm

Then: Finnegans Wake

Now: Havvah-ban-Annah Under the Pudendascope: The Sowiveall of the Prettiest when they were Yung and Easily Freudened

69

Keith M Ellis 09.16.09 at 7:39 pm

This reminds me why bestselling nonfiction is possibly not an improvement over mass illiteracy. It just might be making people stupider than they otherwise would be.

70

José San Martin 09.16.09 at 11:21 pm

A strong title and a non-ending tagline: how the cover of this book will try to convince you that buying it will make your life better and make you a happier and more successful person.

71

stostosto 09.16.09 at 11:48 pm

Then: The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money.
Now: How To Bury Dead Ideas: When In a Hole, Stop Digging.

72

rm 09.17.09 at 1:59 am

Accountable government, a dependable legal system, and a complete ban on torture?

I was thinking lack of a central government, oligarchy, Puritanism, and state-sponsored religion.

Off topic: was King George accountable, and was there a ban on torture? Torture and slavery go together, and I thought there was public execution and torture for convicts.

73

ajay 09.17.09 at 3:35 pm

Off topic: was King George accountable, and was there a ban on torture? Torture and slavery go together, and I thought there was public execution and torture for convicts.

1) Yes, he was, because he wasn’t an absolute monarch but subject to Parliament’s control of the purse strings, to the provisions of the Act of Settlement on (for example) preservation of judicial independence, and ultimately to trial and execution by Parliament in the event of tyranny (precedent: 1649).

2) Judicial torture, both as an interrogation technique and as a punishment, was abolished in the 17th century in Britain, and this presumably applied to slaves as well as freemen; by 1776, public execution was still used as a punishment, as was corporal punishment, but not torture. And slavery had been abolished in Britain (Summersett’s Case) though not yet in the colonies. I’m not sure how one would draw a dividing line between torture and mere brutality; but in this context it’s worth noting that slave-owners were occasionally hanged under British law for killing their slaves.

74

Chris Williams 09.17.09 at 5:31 pm

Then: Guilty Men
Now: The Hutton Inquiry

As for slavery, there is copious evidence from the British Atlantic empire, pre and post 1776, that the very few slaveoweners who were disciplined for maltreating their slaves were a tiny minority of the far larger group who got away with it. There was a lot of unpunished torture going on, much of which was really imaginatively horrible.

75

Steve LaBonne 09.17.09 at 6:03 pm

For The Prince it would really have to be something like, Be A Bastard And Murder Your Way to the Top! Management Secrets of Cesare Borgia.

76

Phil 09.17.09 at 6:59 pm

Whether there was a universal ban on torture is a separate question from whether there was an effective universal ban on torture, however.

77

ajay 09.18.09 at 11:40 am

75: Lorenzo de Medici, IIRC. Or possibly Alexander or Hannibal? Can’t remember which examples NM uses most frequently.

76: also, I suppose we could make a distinction between “torture by private actors, though technically illegal, generally goes unpunished by the state” and “torture is used by agents of the state”.
To use an analogy, it’s not good that cars get stolen all the time and the police generally don’t do much to investigate it; but it would be worse if the police themselves regularly stole cars.

78

Fourcultures 09.24.09 at 4:10 am

My Favourite so far is The Dangerous Book for Adults – inspired!

Then: The Odyssey
Now: Rosy-fingered Dawn: Turn Any Business Trip into the Journey of a Lifetime (in Ten Years or Less)!

Or: He’s Leaving – She’s Weaving: How today’s long-distance relationships are redefining love and commitment.

Then: The Iliad
Now: Feel the Flaw and do it Anyway: Anger Management and the New Art of Making a Killing.

Then: The Anabasis (Xenophon)
Now: Never Turn Back: Wisdom on a Tough Road, by History’s Most Daring Leader (with a new introduction by Ben Bernanke).

Then: Thorstein Veblen (1899) The Theory of the Leisure Class
Now: Timothy Ferriss (2007) The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich
…just goes to show you can’t beat the real thing.

79

Substance McGravitas 09.24.09 at 4:19 am

I shoulda gone with this for Candide: Dow 36,000: The New Strategy for Profiting From the Coming Rise in the Stock Market

80

Substance McGravitas 09.24.09 at 4:20 am

Except that someone has snagged Dow 36,000 already. Apologies b9n10nt!

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