Fri
Jul 11 2014 7:12am

Censorship Is Born: Thomas Bowdler’s Birthday!

Forbidden Love

Thomas Bowdler, born on this day in 1754, has achieved literary notoriety for his publication of The Family Shakespeare, a version that was edited so as to be more appropriate for women and children.

The term “bowdlerize” means “to change (a book, play, movie, etc.) by removing parts that could offend people.”

Bowdlerization exists today, as when a new version of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn was released with an offensive term replaced with one that is supposed to be less offensive.

It's a slippery slope, but it's pretty clear that we can all agree on one thing: Shakespeare's work does not improve after editing.

What's your take on bowdlerization?

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3 comments
Carmen Pinzon
1. bungluna
I personally think it's ridiculous to sanitize books for any reason. The original version gives us a glimpse into a time that existed "as is" and no amount of "editing" will errase that. It's better to face things than to try to bury them.

As for the delicate eyes of weemen and children, each parent is responsible for their own child, I strongly believe. As for me? Don'd worry your manly little head about it, I can make my own choices.
Megan Frampton
2. MFrampton
I absolutely agree with you, @bungluna. I think any kind of alteration of the artist's work is wrong. It's up to the reader to choose whether or not to read the works in question.
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