The assigned text for the class is the one-volume Dell edition first published in 1988. It's my first encounter with that edition, which I had to check out of the library. When I re-read the trilogy a couple of years ago, I read the original novels, which I still have in my personal library.
A couple of days ago, after I finished re-reading The Homing Pigeons, I pulled my original Pocket Books edition off the bookshelf to compare it with the Dell version. I compared the last few pages of the two versions and saw there were significant cuts in the Dell.
When I re-read the trilogy a couple of years ago, I noticed that The Universe Next Door was my favorite of the three. As I began reading the Dell version, I was surprised at how much was left out in comparison with the original version, at least in the early part of the book.
If your only experience with The Universe Next Door is the Dell omnibus, for example, you may not know that the original version had an "Overture," two pages long, about a guy named Joe Malik writing a novel with a protagonist named Robert Anton Wilson.
And you'd miss other material.
For example, in the Dell version, the first chapter, "Don't Look Back," ends with the words, "The planet as a whole continued to drowse."
In the original Pocket Books version, that's followed by three paragraphs:
Nihilism had been invented in Russia in the nineteenth century. It was a philosophy based on materialism, skepticism and a fierce demand for social justice. Naturally, various deranged individuals quickly made it an excuse for violence, and Nihilism became a synonym for horror.
Anarchism was similar. It had been invented in France in the nineteenth century and was also based on materialism, skepticism and a fierce demand for social justice. It attracted the same types as Nihilism and also quickly acquired a bad reputation.
The Nihilist Anarchist Horde believed that they had chosen that name to refurbish the sane, sound side of Nihilism and Anarchism. Actually, they were kidding themselves. They really enjoyed having a name that scared the bejesus out of everybody.
Now, when I re-read the "Cat" trilogy a couple of years back, I did feel that some of the sex scenes could be cut without damaging the literary value of the work very much. The attack on Dell in the second chapter of the original version of The Universe Next Door, criticizing the publisher for making too many cuts to Illuminatus!, is tactfully removed from the Dell version, and I suppose that's no great loss. But it seems to me that many of the cuts in the Dell edition remove a great deal of detail and nuance.
The Dell version is still a pretty good work of literature, but I'd kind of like to see the original version brought back into print. I'd also like to know why the work was cut in the first place.