Monday, May 11, 2009

Bowdlerizing

Most of us aren’t lucky (or unlucky) enough to get a concept named after us. Thomas Bowdler, however, gave his name to the idea of cutting out any pieces of a work of literature that are not appropriate for women and children. Most famously, Bowdler bowdlerized Shakespeare.

My reason for posting about him is twofold: he lived in the same city where I currently live and I am very interested in the ways in which authors, editors, or translators change texts for children (or, as in Bowdler’s case, for women!). Some people might say that Bowdler was a product of his time; that may be true in part, but the fact is that bowdlerizing takes place today too, hence the continued popularity of the eponym.

We translators and editors have to be aware of the target audience, obviously, but we also need to be careful that we don’t abuse our power and underestimate what readers can handle and should have access to.

1 comment:

Essentials said...

A good point.
There were times when a text was a complex one and I inclined to 'simplify' it for the target readers. I think I did underestimate those readers...