Hugh Lofting

Ian W. Riddell iwriddell at
Thu Feb 6 13:53:49 EST 2003

>On Thu, 6 Feb 2003 15:05:59 +0000 (GMT), Tanaqui wrote:
>>Why has everyone so far written about Doolittle? It's Dolittle.
>>The first book is available online at
>>I haven't seen any of the controversial novels in etext, nor have I actually
>>seen the editions where e.g. the Doctor's preferred word for black Africans
>>is altered, and his turning Bumpo (temporarily) white in order to escape from
>>these ignorant savages is excised. I own an original version of that one. I
>>am very strongly against altering books to fit later sensibilities.
>Tanaqui!! Where have you been!
>I TOTALLY agree with you about altering books for modern readers.  For one
>thing, the originals reveal a lot about the sensibilities of that day that
>are valuable parts of the historical record.  And if we readers can't tell
>the difference between modern racism and entrenched historical social mores,
>well, shame on us.  I've been buying reprints of the original Nancy Drew
>books for that reason.  (Not many of them.  They're expensive.  But the
>prefaces are worth it.)
>Melissa Proffitt

Except that those "entrenched historical social mores" ARE racist and 
evidence of the racism of the authors.

I'm not advocating changing the writings, mind you, just not willing 
to gloss it over with "they didn't know any better, poor souls." We 
need to acknowledge those attitudes for what they are. That doesn't 
mean that this has to take away from our enjoyment of the stories.

Maybe I'm saying the same thing you are. Not sure.


Fairy tales are not true--fairy tales are important, and they are not 
true, they are more than true. Not because they tell us that dragons 
exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be defeated.
G.K. Chesterton

Ian W. Riddell
iwriddell at
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