|David Ward||Ferber, Edna: Giant|
|Assignment 1: Bibliographic Description|
|1. First Edition Publication Information||Edna Ferber. Giant. Garden City, New York: Doubleday &
Company, Inc., 1952.
Copyright, 1952, by Edna Ferber. All rights reserved.
Parallel First Editions: British Edition printed in London
in 1952 by V. Collancz
Sources: 1st edition, National Union Catalog
|2. First Edition in Cloth, Paper, or Both?||The first American Edition is printed in trade cloth binding.
|4. Pagination||226 leaves, pp.  [1-8] 9-63  65-111  113-123 
125-179  181-259  261-277  279-325  327-337 
339-351  353-399  401-409  411-429  431-447 
|5. Edited and/or Introduced?||The book is neither edited nor introduced.|
|6. Illustrated?||The book is also not illustrated.|
|8. General Appearance||Page size is 8 1/4 inches by 5 1/2 inches. Text measures
111 mm across and 1.5 mm high. Overall good readability.
Approximately 1 mm between lines. Darkness of text has
lightened slightly but this detracts quite minimally from
overall observation. Type size 84R. Serif type. No
description of the type in the book itself.
Description of chapter pages: Chapter number in bold print
16 mm high about 14 mm from right margin. Chapter number
114 mm below top of page. Text begins below and to the
left of the chapter number.
Sources: 1st edition and Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography
|10. Description of Paper||Paper is thicker and coarse. No apparent chainlines or
wiremarks. Paper has yellowed over time, particularly on
the side edges, which are quite rough and bumpy. First few
leafs that begin the book and the last couple that conclude
it seem to be smoother and thinner than those with text. A
few stains but nothing that hinders readability. No noticeable
tears. Overall, paper has aged but not badly and coarser
text paper has held up quite nicely.
|11. Description of Binding||No dust jacket. Made of cloth, binding is of a sand grain
and Winterbottom BW. Color is of a neutral shade of black
with medium lightness. Stamping is of a greyish shade also
with medium lightness. No illustrations. Endpapers are of
an orange hue, also with medium lightness.
Transcription of information on spine:
GIANT|by Edna Ferber|DOUBLEDAY
No information on front or back cover.
Sources: 1st edition, Gaskell's New Introduction to Biblio.
|12. Title Page Transcription||Recto:
GIANT|by Edna Ferber|DOUBLEDAY & COMPANY, INC., 1952|Garden
City, New York
ALL OF THE CHARACTERS IN THIS BOOK ARE FICTITIOUS|AND ANY
RESEMBLANCE TO ACTUAL PERSONS, LIVING OR|DEAD, IS PURELY
COINCIDENTAL|LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOG CARD NUMBER 52-
10412|W|COPYRIGHT, 1952, BY EDNA FERBER|ALL RIGHTS RESERVED|
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES
Sources: 1st edition, Gaskell's New Introduction to Biblio.
|14. Manuscript Holdings||The original manuscripts of "Giant" are held at the
University of Wisconsin's Memorial Library in the British
and American Language & Literature Collection, Madison, WI.
Holdings: Vols 1300 Cat
Source: "Subject Collections," 7th edition, compiled by
Lee Ash and William G. Miller, 1993.
|15. Other||Cover is worn, with darkening stains and chips in cloth.
Internal binding is worn somewhat as well. One quite
noticeable stain at the top of the first few pages.
Ferber's initials are found on the first leaf and on the
inside of the back cover in an off-white that contrasts
with those leaves' orange hue. No inscriptions,
dedications, or anything of the handwritten nature anywhere
in the book. Really a pretty dull copy, but one that has
definitely held up well over time.
|Assignment 2: Publication History|
|1. Other Editions:||No.|
|4. First Edition printings or impressions?||It appears that there is only one printing or impression of
the Doubleday first edition. Searches through Publisher's
Weekly and National Union Catalog to find more proved
|5. Editions from other publishers?||Another edition of "Giant" was published in 1952 in Chicago
by Sears Readers Club.
Pocket Books published a Giant Cardinal Edition in 1952.
Buccaneer Books published a first edition in 1952 as well
and republished it in 1980.
Books on Tape produced a special library edition of "Giant"
Grosset and Dunlap of N.Y. published a first edition in 1952.
Ulverscroft in Leicester published a large print edition
Chivers published an edition in 1952 and republished it in
1974 and 1980.
Coronet published an edition in 1952 and republished it in
Fawcett Crest published an edition in 1980 and republished
it in 1984
Landsborough Publications published an edition in 1952 and
republished it in 1959.
V. Gollancz published an edition in 1952.
Companion Book Club published an edition in 1953.
Franklin Library published a limited edition in 1979.
The American Printing House for the Blind and Readers Digest
also published editions of "Giant," though the dates on those
publications were unavailable.
|6. Last date in print?||As of February 2000, "Giant" is still in print. Harper Trade
just published a 2000 edition of Ferber's classic.
|7. Total copies sold?||Unfortunately, Tebbel's book was unavailable (checked out)
and Mott's "Golden Multitudes" was of no help. A search
into Publisher's Weekly as to total sales figures once again
|8. Sales by year?||New York Times Bestseller List: Opened 10/12/52 at #12.
Peaked 11/16/52 at #2, and stayed at 2 for 3 weeks. Overall,
27 weeks on the N.Y.T. Bestseller list.
Publisher's Weekly Bestseller List: Opened at #4 on 10/25/52.
Peaked at #2 week of 11/15/52 and stayed there for 4 weeks.
Overall 17 weeks on P.W. bestseller list.
Total 44 weeks combined on two bestseller lists.
"Giant" was the sixth bestselling book of 1952, selling a
total of 119,000 copies.
Sources: Keith L. Justice's "Bestseller Index" and
|9. Advertising copy:||Two-page full-color ad on the opening two pages of the Aug.
9, 1952 publication of Publisher's Weekly. On the left page
is a huge picture of the book and a summation of it's plot.
Lines across the top of both pages read, "The hottest novel
of 1952!...It's the talk of the country, months|before pub.
Second page filled with rave reviews from critics, news-
papers, etc. concerning the soon to be released book.
Source: Publisher's Weekly
|11. Other promotion?||Key promotion tactics of Doubleday are revealed at the bottom
right corner of the ad described in #9. Doubleday promotes
their book through offers such as "Giant PROFITS for you!",
"Coop ads," "Postcards in color," "Posters," and "National
Source: Publisher's Weekly
|12. Performances in other media?||Giant, United States, Warner Bros. Pictures, 1956, Audio-
visual, Copyright: Giant Productions; 24Nov56
Giant, Warner Home Video, Burbank, CA, 1990, Audiovisual,
2 videocassetes (202 min), sd., col., stereo.
|13. Translations?||Geant; roman. Paris, Librairie Stock, 1954.
Giganten. Kobenhavn. Gyldendal, 1953.
Giganten; Roman. Zurich, Steinberg, c 1954.
Giganten. Oslo. 1953.
Giganti: Milano, Baldini and Castoldi, 1954.
|14. Serialization?||Giant: beginning a new novel. Ladies' home journal. Vol.
69, no. 6-11 (June-Nov.) 1952.
Giant-A condensation, etc. In: Reader's Digest Condensed
Books No. 14, 1957.
Sources: Worldcat, British Library Catalog of Printed Books
|15. Sequels or Prequels?||No.|
|Assignment 3: Brief Biography|
| Edna Ferber published her classic "Giant" at the very pinnacle
of her writing career. Starting her years as an author with several
books of short stories and moving to dramas en route to her few
splendid novels, Ferber shows the very best and most indicative of
her qualities in this novel. As John Barkham wrote in a review of
"Giant" in 1952, it is truly the novel that "sets the seal on her
career." The primary reason the novel does so is its masterful
combination of great storytelling and a poignant and conspicuous
line of argument of Ferber's long-standing and heartfelt beliefs.
A strong-willed woman often of ill repose, Ferber contributed
the development through the course of her life of many of her beliefs
to her roots as a Jewish-American. As the Dictionary of Literary
Biography states, these Jewish characteristics "she felt, enabled
her to imagine vividly the America and Americans about whom she
wrote." Indeed, Ferber never missed the chance to speak out against
anti-Semitism and other Jewish-related issues about which she felt
These well-founded Jewish-American roots also provided the
foundation necessary for the confidence with which Ferber approached
her attack on Texas high society and glaring social distinctions
in "Giant." As Barkham writes, "It requires courage to take all
this apart as scathingly as Miss Ferber has done." Ferber's
differences with Texas and its culture were no secret. She always
felt that Texans were under the mistaken impression of "the bigger,
the better." Her response was, "Are sunflowers necessarily better
than violets?" Ferber was a firm believer in America as a great
melting pot of equal tempers, so to her the idea of a group of individuals
believing themselves superior because of where they were from, socially
or geographically, was a ludicrous one. The discrimination against
the "Tex-Mex" group of people in Texas, or Mexicans living and serving
above their nation's border, as inferior also upset Ferber as both
a female and a Jewish-American.
Two common Ferber themes appear in "Giant" that are related
closely to her stances on societal issues. One, of course, is the
existence of group prejudices against a minority, and the other is
the degradating effects of large amounts of money, especially when
such wealth draws sharp dividing lines between rich and poor. Ferber
drew an interesting parallel between Israel and Texas in a trip to
the Middle East following "Giant"'s publication. She dubbed Israel
a "Jewish Texas-without oil wells." As the Dictionary of Literary
Biography explains, "Ferber's analogy referred to her perception
of Israeli people as arrogant, ignorant of the world beyond the
Israeli borders, and lacking in basic manners," much like the Lone
Star State that she attacks in "Giant." The DLB continues to state,
"The concept of a nation based on membership in a religion-even her
own-conflicted with Ferber's sense of identity as a pluralist and
Sources: Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vols. 9, 28, and 86;
Contemporary Authors-Cumulative Index; Contemporary Literary Criticism,
Vols. 18 and 93
| The publication and release of Edna Ferber's "Giant" in 1952
was met with a myriad of heated reaction from both the public and
critics. A novel characterized by its attack upon Texas big money
and discriminating social strata, "Giant" was both praised for its
combination of brilliant storytelling with a purpose and chastised
for its criticism of the Texas lifestyle. There was also some
dissapointment expressed from critics as to the novel not being representative of
Ferber's best work. On the whole, however, there was little doubt
as to the quality of Ferber's literary accomplishments in "Giant," regardless
of individual stances concerning her beliefs. Indeed, even with its
controversial themes, the book proved to be a huge success with
the public, as noted by its transformation into a hit movie in 1958
starring Elizabeth Taylor and the late, great James Dean.
Some critics were upset by the novel's popularity. One such
writer in "Kirkus" magazine quoted, "It has a money-snob
appeal for the masses, but for this reader, it created frank
distaste." Other detractors noted the popularity of the novel but still decried
its quality. One such is Karl Brown, who wrote that "Giant" was
"below-par Ferber which may not be popular except with fans."
The champions outweighed the pessimists, however. John Barkham
noted the Texas distaste along with the public popularity when he
wrote, "When Texans read what she has written about them they won't
like Miss Ferber," yet "Almost everyone else is going to revel in
these pages." William Kittrell agrees with Barkham, stating,
"'Giant' will be joyfully received in forty-seven states and avidly
though angrily read in Texas."
And many critics felt that "Giant" was the vintage Ferber classic,
a book whose release marked the pinnacle of her success as a writer.
Barkham wrote that "Giant" "set the seal on her career," and Florence
Bullock revels that "'Giant' is a real Edna Ferber novel!" Barkham
definitely sums up the reception of the novel best in his statement
that, "It's easy to spend hours debating the rights and wrongs of
this red-hot novel...but no one can deny the explosive impact of
Sources: Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vols. 18 and 93;
Book Review Digest; Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 28;
Readers Guide to Periodical Literature
Adams, Phoebe Lou. "At War With Texas," in "The Atlantic Monthly,"
Vol. 190, No. 4, October, 1952, pp. 100-01.
Barkham, John. "Where It's the Biggest and Bestest," in "The New
York Times Book Review," September 28, 1952, pp. 4-5.
Bullock, Florence Haxton. "Edna Ferber Tells a Big-Life Story of
Oil-and-Cattle Texas," in "New York Herald Tribune Book Review,"
September 28, 1952, p. 1.
Kittrell, William. "Land of the Boiling Gold," in "The Saturday
Review," Vol. 35, No. 39, September 27, 1952, p. 15.
| The reception of "Giant" since the 1950s has been one characterized
by recognition of the novel as saturated with the aspects of the
writing that shaped Ferber's career and legacy.
Contemporary reviews and criticisms regarding the book highlight
its applicability to larger, more universally impressionable topics
and use the novel as a revealing testament to the bigger themes
that have evolved from "Giant."
According to many critics, the popularity of "Giant" was due
in significant part to the way in which Ferber addressed and satisfied
her audience in the novel. In part, the public's affinity for the
novel, especially over the long term, has been sustained by its detailed
visual spectacle of the vastness and unrefined beauty of the Texas
landscape. As Ellen Uffen writes, "She is as much in love with her
settings as with her heroes." Uffen furthers her argument by stating
that none of Ferber's settings for her books are "to be outdone by
the Texas of 'Giant'." Indeed, Ferber's dazzling Texas captured the
imaginations of her impressionable readers upon its first revelation,
and it continues to be an impressive portrayal of physical America today.
Her brilliant descriptions of setting is merely one example of
how Ferber wrote for her audience, and these
lasting impressions of landscape are one aspect of "Giant" that
is still admired by readers and critics today.
Another controlling concept that shaped Ferber's novels and
still stands as one of the most influential aspects of "Giant" is
the author's steadfast and openly expressed vision of the fabled
American Dream. The prevailing criticism over
the years of Ferber's concept of America has been a focus and
disappointment in her often too focused dissection of affluence
in American culture. Nowhere is this emphasis more recognizable
than in the overwhelming spectacle of wealth in "Giant's" Texas.
But the novel stands today as a work that merely expressed the ills
and defining characteristics of a land which fascinated Ferber and
sparked the motivation for her book. The Texas she described
is a result of the way she viewed America, as Hamblen
writes, "in terms of raw vitality, eager acquisitiveness, (and) unlimited
resources." Indeed, the impression left from "Giant" and still
received by contemporary readers and critics is a culture shaped by the
American Dream, or lack thereof, that sprouted in the mind and heart
of Ferber in her observation of Texas.
Sources: MLA Bibliography; Annual Bibliography of English Language
and Literature Indexes; Facts on File Bibliography of American Fiction;
America History and Life; Humanities Index
Hamblen, Abigail Ann. "Edna Ferber and the American Dream," in
"Journal of Popular Culture," Vol. 2, 1968, pp. 404-409
Stedman, Jane W. "Edna Ferber and Menus With Meanings," in
"Journal of American Culture," Vol. 2, 1979, pp. 454-62
Uffen, Ellen Serlen. "Edna Ferber and the 'Theatricalization' of
American Mythology," in "Midwestern Miscellany," Vol. VII,
1980, pp. 82-93
|Edna Ferber's Giant was a bestseller in 1952, the first year it was published. Americans swarmed to read the latest offering from Ferber, an author whose presence on the bestseller list was not uncommon. Giant was vintage Ferber, boasting a blend of great storytelling with poignant commentary on American social issues. It also included some of the author's most popular and recurring themes, and used as a backdrop the author's familiar setting of the United States. The societal faction Ferber addressed in this novel was Texas high society, a subject that sparked the interest of readers across the country. Moreover, Ferber's often brutal attack on the arrogance and discriminatory practices characteristic of these Lone Star contingents initiated enough controversy within and without Texas to further catalyze sales of the book. Ironically, critics' assaults on the validity of Ferber's claims in Giant caused the novel to sell even more copies. The release of the motion picture Giant four years after the publication of the novel reinvigorated sales of Ferber's acclaimed work and reaffirmed its position as a bestseller. Thus, from Ferber's renown as an author, to the curiosity of Americans that stemmed from the interest and controversy surrounding the work, to the production of a movie version of the book, a conglomerate of factors contributed to the success of Edna Ferber's Giant and reveal much about American bestsellers.
Ferber's writing career essentially began in 1910 when her story "The Homely Heroine" was published in "Everybody's Magazine." In her early years as a writer she published several collections of short stories, including "The Emma McChesney Stories." In 1924, her novel So Big placed her in distinguished company by capturing the Pulitzer Prize. Two years later she published her next bestseller, Show Boat, and in the three decades following this novel she wrote a myriad of short story collections and novels, including the popular American Beauty and Come and Get It. Indeed, by the time Giant was published in 1952, Ferber had established herself as one of the most prolific and widely read authors of her time. It came as no surprise then, that the release of her Texas saga at the twilight of her career was accompanied by widespread sales. Not only was the novel critically acclaimed by many and an entertaining read, but it rode on the coattails of its author's reputation to near the top of the bestsellers list.
The trend of a writer's notoriety augmenting the sales of his or her works is not an uncommon one with bestsellers. Indeed, it is a pattern that still exists in contemporary culture. Books written by modern-day authors such as Tom Clancy and Stephen King almost assuredly become bestsellers simply because of the fame and fan base their writers have garnered through their careers. Though the book may not be up to par with the author's previous works or even measure up well against the works of an individual's less reputable peers, readers will buy it based on their affinity for the writer's earlier novels. In regard to Ferber's Giant, this reality holds true. The novel was not without its detractors, and critics made claims as to Ferber's regression in her ability to write as well in the later years of her life. Her renown with American readers was intact, however, and her popularity drove Giant past her negative reviewers and up to a position with her earlier best selling works. As this success shows, a new novel by a preeminent author can transcend criticism and a lack of pure literary merit because of the dedication and anticipation of its previously established readership.
Themes present in Ferber's earlier works manifest themselves in Giant through her controversial observations and criticisms of the wealthy in Texas. Phoebe Lou Adams explains this in a 1952 review of the book:
Two themes not usually classed as entertainment have appeared in most of
(Ferber's) novels. One is the corrosive effect of money, and the other is the evil of group prejudices. Texas, rich and frankly anti-Mexican, was made to order as a showcase for these topics.
"The corrosive effect of money" and "the evil of group prejudices" were topics addressed in popular Ferber novels preceding Giant, such as the story of the settling of Oklahoma and the discrimination against American Indians that Ferber portrays in 1930's Cimarron. The characteristic Ferber blend of fun-to-read storytelling with a thematic consciousness of modern day society was a fusion that proved to be successful in Ferber's novels prior to 1952, and one that once again proved fruitful in Giant. Thus, the novel proves that the success of a new book from a best selling author cannot only be augmented by the writer's reputation, but can also be sustained by recognizable and contemporarily applicable themes.
Ferber's affinity for writing about distinguished areas of America was the background for her works that helped vault Ferber's novels to best selling status. For instance, the mighty Mississippi River is the setting for her Show Boat, and Alaska is the site of her Ice Palace. As a result, Ferber's novels were known for being very American, and indicative, for the most part, of the people and land that define the United States. Not surprisingly, Ferber's focus on her nation's makeup was a huge draw for readers, who indulged in reading stories about the country in which they inhabited and to which they could personally relate. Another best selling author whose appeal to American geography and people is James Michener. With novels like Chesapeake, Texas, and Alaska, Michener has a reputation, much like Ferber's in her time, as a writer who puts his homeland at the heart of his books' setting and characters. In fact, one advertisement's claims of Michener's Alaska as being "a 1,100 page novel as monumental as its subject" is strikingly similar to John Barkham's review of Ferber's Giant as "the apotheosis of the (Texas) grandoise." Through their success in appealing to nationalist pride in the land and people of the United States, Ferber and Michener elucidate how important such a characteristic can be to the sales of an American novel.
The controversy and reactionary effects of Ferber's attack on the wealthy in Texas provoked further interest in Giant and, in turn, boosted its sales. Pulling no punches, Ferber criticized issues at the core of the arrogance and superficiality that typifies Texas society. The Texans' discrimination against the native Mexicans, or Tex-Mex people, their infatuation with size as equated to worth, and the inferiority of women in a society dominated by men were the three main issues Ferber addressed throughout the novel. The Dictionary of Literary Biography sums up the author's views on Texas, stating:
She seemed to think that Texans regarded their state as superior to the rest of the
United States, and this attitude conflicted with her own ideas about America.
Ferber saw America as an amalgamation of different religions and ethnicities,
none any better than the others, and resented the chauvinism which she found in
The Lone Star state glorified as a territory of vast, natural beauty and a traditionally mannerly and orderly way of life was thus exposed by a woman disgusted by its upper class's elitist tendencies and crippling segregation. Needless to say, the state's champions were aghast at Ferber's gall in her attack on Texas' shortcomings, but her fortitude in the expression of her beliefs lit a fire of curiosity throughout the American readership.
Critics of Giant responded with a rebuttal against the legitimacy of Ferber's claims, arguing that she was in no position to offer an accurate account of the true lifestyle of those with wealth and status in Texas. Yet these detractors' responses merely fueled the fire of public interest initially lit by the controversy of Ferber's attacks, and did little to slow the book's sales or popularity. Further, there were enough advocates of the author's research upon the Texas lifestyle that spoke up to support her claims. One such critic was William Kittrell, who wrote, "Miss Ferber has done a lot of homework on this book, and there is some meat in it." In short, the initial uproar over Ferber's societal assaults and the critical arguments concerning the verity of her claims culminated into widespread interest in Giant among the American public. The Texas-based novel thus displayed the powerful influence that public contention can have on the popularity of a bestseller.
By benefiting from its controversial topics, Giant belongs in the category of those bestsellers whose hubbub surrounding their publishing augmented their sales. Another example of a novel that profited from the same sort of public clamor is Grace Metalious' Peyton Place. As opposed to the vastness of Texas that was the focus of Ferber's novel, Metalious' primary concern was small town New England. Yet much like Ferber, Metalious' book also exposed underlying wrongs that prevailed behind the publicly accepted picture of society, a mirage the book calls the "straitlaced New England of the popular imagination." The controversy surrounding Peyton Place propelled the novel to the top of the bestseller list and Metalious into the public spotlight. Both Ferber's and Metalious' works offer prime examples of how the status of some bestsellers can be attributed, at least partially, to the public outcry and brimming curiosity that drive them to the top of the sales charts.
The release of the motion picture Giant in 1956 brought Ferber's novel back into national prominence and reveals another key factor concerning bestsellers. The popularity of the movie upon its release was due in large part to its inclusion of James Dean as the character of Jett Rink. Dean was only played a leading role in three major motion pictures before his untimely death in 1955. But with his performances in an adaptation of John Steinbeck's East of Eden and the classic Rebel Without A Cause, the public was in great anticipation over the release of his final picture. The late actor was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in Giant, and the film solidified his status as the quintessential young Hollywood icon. In turn, the movie drew widespread attention once again to Ferber's novel. And though the picture did not vault her book back into the ranks of bestseller in 1956, it nonetheless enhanced sales of the work and fortified Giant's position as an American classic.
The ability of a motion picture to augment the popularity of a work of literature after its initial publication has been a reliable trend since films first became a staple of American entertainment culture. A contemporary example that parallels the influence of Warner Brothers' Giant is the 1993 movie adaptation of John Grisham's The Firm following the novel's stance as a bestseller in 1991. Starring Tom Cruise, one of the most popular and talked-about actors in Hollywood, the film made millions at the box office and increased sales of Grisham's novel. The movie proved what many pictures, including Giant, before it had; that a motion picture adaptation of a best selling novel can heighten the demand for the work once again.
So Edna Ferber's Giant reveals much about the popularity and status of the American bestseller. For one, it is a novel that, like many preceding and proceeding it, benefits significantly from its author's previous works and resulting reputation as an entertaining and enlightening writer. Following this pattern, the book focuses on thematic purposes that have captured the Ferber reader in earlier writings. Further, the background of the work fits another description of many great American novels, for it is set in the homeland of its readership. The characteristic of some bestsellers perhaps most contributory to Giant's success is the existence of controversy and opposing arguments surrounding the book's publication, and the blossoming curiosity of the American public that this uproar directly causes. And finally, like many best selling works, the release of other multimedia entities, such as a motion picture, augments the sales and continued affinity of the reader for the novel. Indeed, Ferber's Giant discloses that the road to the bestsellers list is not one that happens by chance or merely one or two characteristics. Rather, it is a distinguished position only achieved through a combination of the novel's attributes and the appropriate public response to its publication. And this necessary amalgamation that vaults a book to high status is true in contemporary culture just as it was before the writing of Ferber's Lone Star classic.
ENTC 312 Database
Dictionary of Literary Biography
Contemporary Literary Criticism
Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
Giant, by Edna Ferber
Graduate School of Library and Information Science
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