Saturday, June 03, 2006

Shocking Shakespeare

According to "You Can't Read This," the great playwright, William Shakespeare, was censored by well-meaning people who wanted to make his plays accessible to families. "The Family Shak[e]speare" includes this disclaimer,
" which nothing is added to the original text, but those words and expressions are omitted which cannot with propriety be read aloud in a family."
According to Dr. Bowdler, who may or may not have been the editor of this book, he had
"omitted many speeches in which SHAK[E]SPEARE has been tempted to purchase laughter at the price of decency."

This book and one in a similar vein--"Tales from Shakespear[e]," appeared in bookstores in 1807. By 1900, there were almost fifty versions of Shakespeare's works that had been sanitized.

It may have been that it was not Mr. Bowdler who rewrote Shakespeare but Mrs. Bowdler who would not want people to know that a respectable woman had read and understood the original works with their lewd puns and dirty jokes.

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