Goatview Farm - The Saint Report www.goatview.com

July 11

Saints celebrating feast days today include Benedict (patron of architects, coppersmiths, the dying, Europe, schoolchildren, farm workers, monks, spelunkers, and servants who break things; invoked against gallstones, kidney disease, fever, poison, and witchcraft; invoked by the dying), Drostan, John of Bergamo, Hidulf, and Olga.

***

Birthdays today include Tab Hunter, who turns 72 (1931, NY, NY). How the heck is that possible?

Hey! For a mere $20 you (or a friend) can be the proud owner of an autographed photo of the man who defined movie-star-handsome. Click on the photo and find out how.

***

Chase's 1997 Calendar of Events lists today as Bowdler Day and states that today's the day (since he was born July 11, 1754) to remember Thomas Bowdler. No sponsor is given for this day of remembrance, so I can only think that this day, like the spurious Eliza Doolittle Day (May 20), is something the authors of Chase's have fabricated for their own amusement. Chase's, unlike the Saint Report, does not value veracity over all else. Hmmph.

This is not to say that the concept of Bowdler Day is without merit; Thomas Bowdler should be remembered by everyone who values free speech and understands that the constitutional guarantee of Freedom of Speech means we cheerfully give up any possible constitutional guarantee of Freedom from Being Offended.

Thomas Bowdler (1754-1825) was an Englishman who devoted his life to creating expurgated versions of the classics. He gutted Shakespeare, "purified" History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and rewrote parts of the Old Testament to put it more in line with his view of decency. He was a pedant and a prig.*

The word bowdlerize, commonly used to to mean butchering a literary work to make it acceptable to the prudish, is a living testimonial to Thomas Bowdler's life's work.

*Correction: After making such a big deal about veracity, it looks as though I have goofed. Not only did I goof, but I didn't fix the goof for almost two years. Here is more from an expert...

Dear Marilyn Jones:

Tut tut tut. Who's a naughty girl?

I am a little shocked. I went back to Goatview today for the first time in ages, and, just for fun, looked up my old chum Thomas Bowdler. Hey - it's still wrong....

You see, the first time I visited your site, in November 1998, I wrote to you all about the true story of Thomas Bowdler, and you said you would update the page - but you never did. Oh woe, woe, woe.

So, in case, you lost it, here is the whole of my 1998 message again:

I think your site on "Saints" is amusing and fab.

But I think you are being a bit unfair on Thomas Bowdler, who is someone I am researching at present.

He did not "devote his life" to expurgating the classics, as you suggest. In fact, he came to editing Shakespeare rather late in life.

The first expurgator in the family was his father, who, at a time when reading aloud to the family from the Bible was a common and usual entertainment, used to add Shakespeare to the diet. But while he read aloud, he used to suppress passages he did not consider suitable for mixed young audiences.

Henrietta Maria Bowdler, Thomas Bowdler's sister, was almost certainly the editor of the first edition of the Family Shakespeare. Thomas only became involved after her co-editor, probably her nephew (confusingly also Thomas) died.

Henrietta was a "bluestocking" and a vigorous member of the evangelising tendency, with an interest in widening the education of girls - in 1800, limited and patchy to say the least.

The part played by the Bowdler family in popularizing Shakespeare is not generally recognised. Before their editions, Shakespeare was available only in two ways - acted, usually from bad, cut or rewritten texts; or in expensive editions available only to the rich. Bowdler editions allowed Shakespeare into middleclass homes - and helped make him a staple of 19th century culture.

"Bowdlerised" editions of Shakespeare continued to be used in schools until the 1960s.

The excellent, "Dr Bowdler's Legacy" by Noel Perrin, pub. Godine 1969, re-pub. 1992, sets out the life of these important and widely misunderstood people.

Regards,

Alec Hamilton
[United Kingdom]

***

While researching Thomas Bowdler, the Rev. J. Granger came to light. Where Bowdler achieved his fame for removing things from works, Pastor Granger took great delight in supplementing them with anything that vaguely related to the text, the author, illustrators or illustrations. A "grangerized" version of a book would be one that had all sorts of extra stuff added.

And in researching James Granger, the term olla podrida was used. An olla podrida, according to Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, is "an incongruous mixture, a miscellaneous collection of any kind, a medley."

Like the Saint Report.

On to July 12
Back to July 10
Back to the Farm


Marilyn Jones 2000-2008