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Peter S Beagle's The Last Unicorn has sold at least six million copies around the world since it was published in 1968 and tens of millions of viewers have delighted in the animated film version for which Peter also wrote the screenplay But none of the fans of this amazing work have ever known the full story of how The Last Unicorn came to beIn 1962 the 23 year old Beagle was at a career crossroads His fantasy novel A Fine and Private Place had been released to great critical acclaim in 1960 but his mainstream second book had been flatly rejected by his publisher What Peter wrote next was an 80 page fragment about a unicorn the last of her kind lost in the modern world of superhighways and Kodak cameras with only a banished demon from Hell for a traveling companionThis first take on the beloved classic—so much the same so very different—is now available to readers for the first time with an introduction and commentary by the author


10 thoughts on “The Last Unicorn

  1. says:

    What a treat I had to reuest this through interlibrary loan and the copy I received is a pristine First Edition number 87 of 1000 signed by the author with beautifully embossed end papers I have to admit the thought crossed my mind to lose it and pay the library for it but of course I won't do that I'm so glad the Abilene Public Library had what Austin did not and I'll happily keep the good karma going to ensure as many copies of this treasure can be enjoyed by as many people as possibleI loved reading his introduction and afterword; it provides a beautifully rich context for both this first iteration and the Last Unicorn bookmovie fans know and love I've been reading a lot of Oscar Wilde lately and though Beagle doesn't reference him as being an influence and in fact is uite the opposite of WIlde in his attitude regarding the worth of fairy tales the writing is strikingly similar and I think Wilde would have appreciated both versions of The Unicorn As with Wilde's own work Sorrow is practically personified and recognized as making Joy that much sweeter and meaningful than a simple pleasure who has no recognition or acknowledgement of pain Melancholy yes but not at all hopeless or dreary I also love his use of language The words flow like water down a mountain and over the plains to the sea sometimes calm and smooth as glass sometimes bouncing and burbling over stones and roots always ringing of truth honesty and sincerity Obviously I'm smitten


  2. says:

    A delightful glimpse into the early childhood of one of fantasy's masterpieces At once reminiscent of and very different from our final cherished version this is a uniue treat for lovers of Beagle's classic and for writers in general a chance to plumb the origins of a beloved tale and to gauge the distance the book had to travel to become what it is now Easily read in a couple of hours and well worth the time


  3. says:

    Wow I am glad that Beagle rewrote The Last Unicorn This original unpublished version is missing all the heart Every so often as I was reading it a familiar line will appear that I remember from the published version and it was like seeing a spark of magic in the mud On its own merit the parts of this fit together oddly disjointedly an ill mesh of classic and very modern language tones The juxtaposition of descriptive images worked better than the language tones but even that was not satisfactory There are better stories out there that bring unicorns into the modern world; Sonya Taaffe's Unicorn's Touch Realms of Fantasy June 2004 and Von Jocks' Yes Virginia There Is a Unicorn Creature Fantastic off the top of my headAs happy as I am that Beagle brought this lost version into the light of day for it is fascinating to see how the two versions compare I will never love it I'd recommend it only to people who are huge fans of the published novel and only for the sake of curiosity It's not a complete tale on its own right but it's worth tracking down for Beagle's preface and afterwordGod I love the Subterranean Press cover artwork and publication uality thoughRelated ReviewsThe Last Unicorn The Graphic Novel adapted by Peter Gillis from the original text by Peter S Beagle art by Renae De Liz and Ray DillonTwo Hearts The Last Unicorn Coda by Peter S Beagle


  4. says:

    It was interesting to see the creative process at work for a novel I grew up with and had at one point memorized As a writer I appreciate seeing just how much the final draft changed and seeing what happened to the other characters that never made it to the final version of the story However this is definitely a rough draft and as such it rambles seems to lose its goalplot and could use a hefty dose of editing Knowing this going into the book is invaluable Read the Forward Read the final version of The Last Unicorn I am now checking out of Peter S Beagle's books as a result


  5. says:

    It was a real treat to be able to read this especially after I learned from a friend that there were only 1000 ever printed each one signed and numbered I read copy #263 It is a rough draft of what later became The Last Unicorn and although it bears very little resemblance to the final version we know and love there are a few haunting fragments such as the opening seuence that were lifted almost verbatim into the finished bookIn this story the unicorn journeys with a two headed demon exiled from Hell through a modern day landscape It's not hard to see why this was scrapped as it has the feel of a story that is not uite sure where it is going full of long conversations and chance meetings on the road as if each encounter is begging for something to give shape to the story I was also surprised and disappointed that typos grammatical errors etc remained in this draft; it seems some basic clean up for the reader's sake would have been appropriate without interfering with the sense of this being an unpolished work Despite that Beagle's beautiful prose still makes an appearance here especially in the provocative conversations about hell earth humanity and the nature of life between the demons and the unicorn The unicorn also retains her other worldly feel which infuses this story with the same aching beauty found in the final product It ends abruptly and thus is really only a worthwhile investment for someone who wants to read it as an addendum to The Last Unicorn; read as a standalone it would be nothing but frustrating and if it led people to the final version in hopes of finding out what happened to the characters in this one they would find themselves disappointed that there never will be any true resolution


  6. says:

    I have been hunting down a copy of this for YEARS As an avid fan of The Last Unicorn that everyone knows and loves once I found out there was a darker unfinished original out there I had to know what it evolved from Two warnings If you're expecting a finished neatly tied up story this isn't it It's incomplete as Peter S Beagle dropped it and completely restarted to create the Last Unicorn the world is so familiar with Other warning If you're not okay with picturing our beloved Unicorn taking a trip to the dark side this probably isn't for youI loved the dark tone of this story and the fact that a few of the characters made it from this original draft to the finished product It's VERY different but I'm so glad I read it If you're a fan of the rewritten edition you'll have to compartmentalize and view this separately but I'm glad that I got to read it and the dark and twisty part of my mind loved it just as much as I loved what it became in The Last Unicorn


  7. says:

    I am a huge fan of the Last Unicorn somehow I managed to read it mere days before watching the animated feature when I was a young girl I wasn't expecting much from this 'lost' version I think I had the idea that it would either to closely mirror the final published version or be so different that it would be too unrecognizable So I've been putting off reading it thinking 'I'll get to it someday' But then I saw something on tumblr about how Molly wasn't in this version and how the author didn't think he could have imagined her when he first wrote it how he's not sure how he created her when he did And Molly has been a fascination for me as a young girl I didn't understand her or her place in the book As I've grown up and grown older I see the depth of Molly I see how her bitterness and longing are both intensified and transformed by the unicorn entering Molly's life when she did When Molly Grue cries out how dare the unicorn come to her now there is a kinship that I think all dreamers can relate to How dare it happen now when I'm old when I'm used up when I can't even dream any How dare you mythical creature of pure magic come to us when we're too lost to appreciate you? How dare you? Instead of putting me off the Lost version it made me even interested Who or what could possible take Molly's place as a traveling companion? There are undeniably similarities Whole scenes move from this book to the 'original' edition Characters traverse from one book to the other minor beings that may not mean anything to anyone while the majors are undreamt of yet The butterfly remains but there is a difference to him in the lost version that I prefer There is a dragon lost in the wood it slinks away and settles in and while I see why it was cut it offers insight into the unicorn that I can enjoy now I doubt I would have as a child There is no Mommy Fortunate no Harpy no Schmendrick And while I don't feel the lack of the magician I see an echo of him in another character There is no Red Bull or Haggard or Lír Which seems almost sacrilegious but I mean that in the best way There is however Azazel And Webster I wish they had their own tale or that the unicorn's story in the lost version would get subsumed into histheirs I want see what they do with the last coal of hell I want to see what becomes of broken Azazel in the city where you can't tell men from demons I want to know if he ever rides the unicorn Will hell ever find them is it even looking? Is Azazel a demon who has lost their magic its ability to change shape? I find Azazel and Webster fascinating their story that is never fully told and how there is something about the character that makes the unicorn unable to leave him to let him die I can see a bit of Schmendrick in the demon in its self pity in how he wants to be something grander Even though Schmendrick came later I almost feel as if he's a precursor for AzazelThere is lightheartedness hidden deep in this version but most of it seems to get buried by the melancholy by the slow slide of the world into something sad and just a touch pathetic There are bits of this version that captivate me I very much enjoyed the idea of Satan and God being old and sitting together silent and staring at each other The young female demon who sings Mommy Fortuna's song how the song changes from the loss everyone knows into a vaguely threat to Azazel The madness of the butterfly that comes off as something darker almost as if something rides the butterfly and forces it toward self destructionThe broken poetry that is this version that makes it so different and eually as good as the changed shadow that came from it The unicorn in this is unknown by man her magic gone or waning her horn disappearing In the published version she learns to be human by being a human in having a human heart by learning to love and regret In this she learns that she'd make a good demon by being surrounded by humans In this world you can't tell demons and humans apart and hell is home full of love and acceptance Which makes one think how can we tell ourselves apart now? In this world demons and humans are so changed that the unicorn can't tell what is true evil any Although Azazel recognizes it of course a demon wouldThis is short and it ends in the middle but is well worth reading in my opinion I think like Molly Grue it's something you can appreciate on multiple levels and will get better as we age Which should be the case with ageless unicorns Because how else would we track change? Not by something immortal that's for sure


  8. says:

    I'd probably only recommend reading this if you already have a deep appreciation for The Last Unicorn I found it fascinating to read about the writing process that Beagle went through and it's almost a little bizarre to read how different this original version is from how the final story ended up I have the ebook version of the Subterranean Press publication It's necessary to note that because this was only a first draft that this isn't a complete story There's no beginning middle end structure; because it was an initial draft it just leaves off If this is something that would bother you I'd avoid it It's meandering which the author himself admits and still has some typos However the writing itself is still often very beautiful and the first few paragraphs of this version ended up in the final version nearly verbatim Some spoilers view spoilerWebsterAzazel were very amusing and had something almost Pratchett esue about them to me I can see why he eliminated them from the final version though Their journey would've only distracted from the unicorn's and they didn't feel like they fit in the story he was trying to tell The despairing dragon also had something of a tragic humor about it I was utterly shocked to read that the original version was set in the 20th century I hadn't expected that at all I find myself curious about what a book about WebsterAzazel's journey would be like hide spoiler


  9. says:

    I read some of the reviews for this book and while I agree that the version that was ultimately published is what this story was really meant to be I can't help but want to treat this version as its own separate work Every great story starts somewhere And I did enjoy a lot of the elements not just the familiar sections I enjoyed the dialogue between Azazel and Webster their dynamic as well as the modern setting I think it brought a little of the unicorn's feelings of loss and being a relic of a time past to the forefront made her fear a primary emotional undercurrent where in the published story there was sorrow Admittedly I may not have enjoyed this book as much if I'd never read the other familiar version which remains one of my favorites I love the perspective that Beagle brings to this giving some background to the story and how he was influenced to even write about a unicorn to begin with and the circumstances of his life at the time I always appreciate that peek into a writer's process and how their ideas start then progress


  10. says:

    I haven't yet read the book this became the Last Unicorn I liked this first effort by Beagle It made me want to read the classicAfter I saw this book on Abebookscom for 2000 and 3000 I decided to test the market on Ebay I suspected these prices were inflated because there didn't seem to be much of a sales history any in fact I ran two auctions with a reserve of 1000 One got up to 140 the other to 180 During the course of the auctions I was offered 500 by two bidders When it went up for a third auction I decided to add a buy it now price of 550 on it It sold immediately to a collector of Last Unicorn who has loved the book for many years It definitely went to the right home After my auction the 3000 copy was reduced to 2000 What is this book really worth? I have no idea I suspect these prices will come down in the coming years because I doubt anyone interested in the book will pay this amount given the results of my auctions Only time will tell