Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Warning: Don’t Let Your Kids Read This Book

A friend sent me a link from Jay Nordlinger.

One of Nordlinger’s readers wrote to say that he recently picked up a 2008 reprint of Chesterton’s Everlasting Man  (Wilder Publications) and was surprised to find a disclaimer by the publisher on the title page. I’ve snagged the cover page so you can read it, starting with, “This book…”


Title Page from Chesterton's The Everlasting Man

In case you have images turned off, here’s the quote:

“This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today. Parents might wish to discuss with their children how views on race have changed before allowing them to read this classic work.”

The reader says:

“As my father-in-law would say, this is ludicrous! It is wrong in so many ways I don’t know where to begin. In the first place, it is an act of cowardice on the part of the publishers. If they were ashamed of the content, why did they print it in the first place? It is also an act of arrogance: How dare they presume to know how Chesterton would have written his book today? Or to apologize on his behalf? Somehow, I find it difficult to imagine that Chesterton would have been cowed by the strictures of political correctness. . . .

If the publisher had included a preface that properly discussed the issues they fear may be of concern, that would be one thing. But to print a cigarette-packet-style warning so that parents can prepare their children for the “horrors” ahead is unseemly.”

Says Nordlinger, “Very modern. Very dumb.”

I agree. On my reading list are several classic novels, a few of which might require this type of “warning” label if such a practice becomes de rigueur.  But I can’t help but feel a tad bit insulted. Do people really need to explain the content of a book clearly written in a different age? You tell me.

3 comments to Warning: Don’t Let Your Kids Read This Book

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