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Author Topic: Newbery Censorship
SenojRetep
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So, I couldn't find the "High Power of Lucky" thread, and this seemed like a sufficient enough diversion from that discussion that I thought I'd just start a new thread.

I've been reading Newbery Award winners this year, vaguely trying to get through all 85 by the end of the year. Today I was trying to decide which one I should read next. So I went to wikipedia and browsed through the synopses for something that struck my fancy.

I was surprised by these two entries. In both cases, current editions of the books have been altered to omit racially sensitive material. Is this common practice? Are many older novels changed in new editions to reflect modern sensibilities? There are some notable holdouts, like The Adventures of Huck Finn, that are perennially challenged when included on book lists and school libraries. Is one path preferable to the other? Is there any difference between challenging or editing a book due to racial sensitivity versus, say, religious sensitivity?

Just wondering about Hatrack's thoughts.

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Dagonee
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I suggest you look for OSC's commentary on why removed a racial slur from later editions of Ender's Games. He puts together a pretty good framework for evaluating such questions.
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King of Men
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There was a huge kerfuffle over a similar issue in Norway recently, when new editions of Pippi Longstocking (maybe not so popular here, but a classic of similar stature to Dr Seuss in Scandinavia) were edited to remove references to her father being a 'Negro King'. He's now a 'South Sea King' instead. Which actually might be a little more descriptive, come to think of it, since you don't get negroes in the strict sense of "black Africans" in the Pacific. But anyway, angry editorials were written, comparisons to Minitruth were made, the Danes took the opportunity to call us 'mountain apes' and pat themselves on the back for being more tolerant of older ways of thinking...
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dkw
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I loved Pippi Longstocking. I think I dressed up as her for Halloween one year, although that might have been one of the costume ideas that I considered and didn't use.
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ketchupqueen
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Pippi Longstocking was one of my favorites, too. And I think it was always South Sea King in the versions I read...
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Altáriël of Dorthonion
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quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
I suggest you look for OSC's commentary on why removed a racial slur from later editions of Ender's Games. He puts together a pretty good framework for evaluating such questions.

Link please?
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Amilia
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Yes, ma'am.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by ketchupqueen:
Pippi Longstocking was one of my favorites, too. And I think it was always South Sea King in the versions I read...

Same here. And I saw two or three Pippis on Purim this year (this past Sunday), which is about average for most years, I think.
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SenojRetep
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Thanks for the link and the reference.

I find the change made to Ender's Game less jarring than those made to Voyages of Dr. Doolittle and Rabbit Hill (and, possibly, Pippi Longstockings). I think that's because those books intend to capture a particular time and place where such language and stereotypes had a place. I don't particularly object, due to the pragmatic reasons that it's better for a slightly changed version to be read than an original be unavailable. But still, it feels somehow dishonest to me to publish something which a reader assumes is an accurate depiction of a particular time and place, after having excised anything about that time and place that the reader might find offensive.

I would find changes to Huck Finn more jarring still, because the (potentially) offensive language and scenes are so central to the plot.

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Liz B
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I think it's important to remember the target audience of these works. Compare the target audience of Dr. Dolittle to the target audience of Huck Finn. It's doubtful that children reading Rabbit Hill and Dr. Dolittle would keep in mind that the stereotypes are representative of the context in which they were written. Kids may not even notice the stereotypes, and probably not find them offensive. They just accept it as part of the world of the book.

Also, the books themselves may not be trying to "capture a particular time and place where such language and stereotypes had a place" -- aren't they actually products of their culture, "contemporary" children's fantasy with talking animals, rather than historical fiction?

Not really trying to argue either way, since I'm still thinking about it...just thought I'd point that out.

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