"They say that the Devil plays the best tunes. But who is the Devil's songwriter?"

Toady, I would like to talk about names. As I type this I am looking at a book. It is called A BRIDGE TOO FAR and it was written by a man called Cornelius Ryan, and published in 1974. He died two years later. Nothing more to say.

(When I think of the name Cornelius I immediately think of the character of Cornelius from the 1968 science fiction film PLANET OF THE APES. Cornelius was an ape, and was played by the diminutive British actor Roddy McDowall. He has 250 acting credits on the IMDB, an impressive number, and he worked steadily until he died in 1998, when he was squashed by an elephant. In fact, his last performance - as Mr Soil, in the film A BUG'S LIFE - was released to the cinema after he had died. I have often wondered whether, if a man was to die at the point of ejaculation, would he continue to ejaculate, or would the semen simply dribble out? Nonetheless McDowall is remembered nowadays for his performances in the Planet of the Apes films and its television series; he played several related characters. He is also remembered for his role in top 80s teen horror film FRIGHT NIGHT, as a one-time horror film actor from the days of Bela Lugosi's dead and the Killer, Boris Karloff, confronted by real-life zombies.

When I think of FRIGHT NIGHT, I think of breasts, because the film opens with a vampire biting the neck of a very attractive naked woman. Her name is Irina Irvine and she is credited as "teenage girl". She has one other acting credit on the IMDB. Although her appearance in FRIGHT NIGHT is a very short one, I nonetheless consider her one of the top naked horror ladies of the 1980s, along with Elisabeth Brooks No Quarter from THE HOWLING, Mathilda May 1st 1978 from LIFEFORCE - one of my favourite things to do is to use Google's image search to find pictures of Mathilda May, and I am not ashamed to admit this in a public forum with my real name - and Linnea Quigley Down Under from RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD.)

Cornelius Ryan's A BRIDGE TOO FAR is about Operation MARKET-GARDEN, an allied military operation that took place in September 1944. A lot has been written about MARKET-GARDEN and I will not write any more than I have. Although military history enthusiasts would probably pooh-pooh Cornelius Ryan's book for being biased and out of date and full of old ideas, old culture, old customs and old habits, it is nonetheless an engaging read and it makes more sense than the film. An ocelot is a type of big cat.

I want you to think about the book's title. It is called A BRIDGE TOO FAR, and that is all it is called. Imagine you know nothing about Operation MARKET-GARDEN or the Second World War or history in general. Imagine you are in a bookshop, and you see a book called A BRIDGE TOO FAR. The cover of my edition of the book - a cheap reprint - has a photograph of a broken tank and some corpses lying on one end of a bridge. There is no way to know that the book is about without reading the back cover. Clearly, it is about some kind of disaster, but what, and where, and when?

Cornelius Ryan had written other books about WW2, the most famous being THE LONGEST DAY. The cover of my copy of that book has a poor-quality photograph of some soldiers on a beach. The book is about D-Day, J-Jour, the Sixth of June, 1944, but there is no way to know that without reading the back cover.

I can only assume that book publishers in 1974 had no idea how to name a book. They were amateurs. When was the last time you saw a book from 1974 on the shelves of your local bookshop? When was the last time a book from 1974 topped the best-selling lists? I wager that the answer to that question is 1974, or perhaps the early months of 1975. Book publishing must have been in its infancy, in 1974. I was not yet born.

Nowadays, publishers recognise that A BRIDGE TOO FAR is an unacceptable title for a book. A better title would be A BRIDGE TOO FAR: OPERATION MARKET-GARDEN and the BATTLE OF ARNHEM, 1944. Nowadays it is common for books to have two titles. A poetic title, and a factual title. I am not the first person to point this out. But I am the first person to point this out in this way. Novels do not generally have two titles. They have a poetic title, and that is their only title, because they are fictional and thus a second, factual title would be inappropriate. The alternative would be to call the book NAME: A Tale of Romance and/or Derring-Do involving Swordplay and Kissing, but so many books cover this ground that such a subsidiary title would be superfluous.

I do not know what books were called in the distant past of Charles Dickens and Shakespeare etc, but then again I do not care. Those books are not only full of the four olds, they are about the four olds, and are thus quadruply-old.

Or perhaps, if A BRIDGE TOO FAR was published today, it could be called A BRIDGE TOO FAR: OPERATION MARKET-GARDEN and the BATTLE OF ARNHEM: "Only the weather can stop us now". The quote would be in italics; I have chosen for the sake of this document to render book titles in capital letters, and italics, because I like new experiences provided they are not expensive, and what is cheaper than exploring my own mind? Re-reading this, I believe that the experiment was a failure and I will not do it again.

And thus the book would have three titles; a poetic title, a factual title, and an ironic quote. The quote I have included in the title is actually taken from the film, although I am sure that the real-life participants of the battle said many more things than are documented in Ryan's book, and who can conclusively prove that no-one said that particular string of words at any time during 1944?


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