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      CommentAuthorjaredrourke
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2007 edited
     (273.1)
    Recently I read an article in The Atlantic (found here) about the adaptation of The Golden Compass into a film. It mainly focused on the religious aspects (which are, ultimately, what interested me in the books.), until it got to these lines (emphasis mine):
    This simple story sets off salvation. When she hears it, Lyra “felt something strange happen to her body. She felt a stirring at the roots of her hair: she found herself breathing faster.” (At least that’s what she felt in the British edition; the American version leaves these lines out.)

    Both my partner and my sister recently read all three novels in the His Dark Materials, and I was intent on following them until I read that article. Nothing ruffles my feathers like the American tendency to censor materials. (Okay, some things, like war, famine, religious idiocy, etc... ruffle my feathers more, but still...) So, now I'm posed with the question: Do I still read the American editions, swallow my anger and revel in the still-intact anti-theism of it all, or do I go on some mad crazy hunt to get my hands on the British editions, at what will probably a huge expense. (A British friend of a friend has already offered to bring them to me when her sister visits... in March. So not that great of an expense.)

    edited to change thread title, to bring it more to the point.
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      CommentAuthorARES
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2007
     (273.2)
    I just ordered the books (haven't seen the movie yet, the woman did and loved it), but I can give a similar example of why I hate America:

    Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

    I ended up buying a properly titled copy from amazon.co.uk for me ma, but other than that we both read the regular US editions.
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      CommentAuthorbschory
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2007
     (273.3)
    I have one of the original American printings of His Dark Materials at home. Now I really need to go check to see if this was censored back then to...

    I'll let you know what I find.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2007
     (273.4)
    This isn't censorship per se, it's publishers being prudes. Maybe that amounts to the same thing. In any case, it's kind of insulting to readers.

    FWIW, it's "The Amber Spyglass" that has the edits mentioned.
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      CommentAuthorAlexis
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2007
     (273.5)
    Yeah, I agree with StefanJ, it's not like it's government mandated censorship, it's just stupid publishers who underestimate their readers. Buy the complete and proper version, if enough people do then maybe they will get the message. It's all just driven by money, anyhow. If they think they will make more money with the full, unedited version then they will release it.
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      CommentAuthorParkaboy
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2007
     (273.6)
    They changed the title of the first Harry Potter book! Oh noes!
    • CommentAuthorSeverin
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2007
     (273.7)
    As far as I know the Canadian versions are the same as the UK ones. Might be cheaper/easier to get a hold of than UK copies (order from Chapters or suchlike).
  1.  (273.8)
    I'm going to have to stick with calling it censorship. While it may not be government mandated... well, the market is stronger than the government anyway, at least in this country. That there's someone employed in America who sits and reads a book with a red pen in his hand (and I'm not talking about editing in general, here), striking through sentences that a publisher doesn't see fit for readers kind of shocks and disgusts me. It would be one thing if it were a Christian or religion-based publisher, where I would expect that kind of behavior. (And, I guess in a country where entirely too many people believe in imaginary friends, then a major company most likely is a Christian publisher by default, but that's another topic entirely.)

    If the Canadian editions are the same as the British editions, that would make my life much easier. I have a Canadian cousin. She will enjoy shipping me such things. Unfortunately, I cannot find, on-line, any other references to differences between the editions, other than the titular change.
    • CommentAuthorSolario
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2007
     (273.9)
    I think this is very much about the publishers than the government. Still pisses me off though. Like adding that horrible "It was all a DREEEEEAM" verse to Szomoru Vasarnap, when it was translated into Gloomy Sunday back in the 30's.
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      CommentAuthorUnsub
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2007
     (273.10)
    I'm having a time out until I can learn some manners.
    I find self censorship in many ways worse than government mandated. At least the government has to have a reason and face a bit of criticism but I would bet that 99% of the time when publishers do it you never even know. Also I was discussing a British Knife site on another thread that self censors out of fear of the UK's thought police. In many ways this is much more frightening and repressive to freedom than simple government censors. There are many direct comparisons to the period in history when the Puritans had control; of the UK and roving mobs revved up by self styled preachers forced their views on everyone. I would be willing to bet you get ta very similar response to wearing fur now as you would to wearing the type of clothing the puritans found sinful in 1660.
  2.  (273.11)
    Not quite the same thing...
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      CommentAuthormuse hick
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2007
     (273.12)
    has anyone else come across the christians posting bulletins against the film on myspace?
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      CommentAuthorMiss
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2007
     (273.13)
    They changed the title of the first Harry Potter book! Oh noes!

    Yes, and they also put pants on the Kool-Aid man-jug-thing. Go figure.

    I'm inclined to agree with the diagnosis of prudishness. The trilogy is readily found in the young adult section in bookstores, and I guess the US publishers decided that teenagers shouldn't read about such things, despite most teenagers doing things considerably more risque.
    As for the Harry Potter title change, I never understood why that happened. What, "philosopher" is a dirty word?

    Film studios pull this sort of snipping stunt all the time, Golden Compass itself copping some flack for toning down the humanist themes (and on the other side, as muse hick mentioned, for being part of an "Atheist Agenda"). Terry Gilliam had a nightmare struggle when it came to getting the US to release Brazil in its intended version, the US cut still slightly differs from the UK cut. Universal had a ball in de-politicising Spartacus. And so on.

    The audience gets told what is appropriate for them first on the government level (broadly) and then by the publisher/producer/studio/whatever (specifically). There's a lot of assumption involved in bleeping out the specifics, clearly. Everyone wants a happy ending. Teenagers ought not think about sex (harhar, good luck there). We need clear good guys and bad guys, no weird in-betweens. Everyone thinks the government is super-duper rad and therefore we don't want to put ideas in their head that might make them think otherwise. Children should not be exposed to words like "philosopher"...blahblahblah.
    And, of course, we cannot have a naked jug of Kool-Aid running around. The horror.
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      CommentAuthorUnsub
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2007
     (273.14)
    I'm having a time out until I can learn some manners.
    I really want to see the Movie. My buddy said there was both armoured polar bears and Enfield Jungle carbines so I am totally there even if I have to run the gauntlet of rabid kiddies.

    I admit you won't be burned at the stake for wearing fur. I was trying to make a point that we are not quite as open minded as we think when it comes to what we believe is right. Personally I think for example that cultures that treat woman like objects are wrong and should be changed by force if it is realistically going to work.
    I accept though that this is a prejudice on my part and the puritans(to stick to my original example) were just as sure that what they were doing was right as I am about my beliefs. I am even willing to accept that I could be as wrong and as ignorant as they were although I do believe that attempting to rescue those women and children is the right thing to do.
  3.  (273.15)
    I don't think it'd be that difficult to get the unabridged versions, what with the movie being fairly successful thus far. Most of the Potter fans prefer to read them like that, but honestly the differences within are usually just minor language changes (colour to color, sometimes something weirder like snog to make-out or kiss, things like that). There's also the possibility that the "adult" versions of the books (which I think are published the same way the Potter books are) could contain some of that perceived sensitive material in there. But you'd have to ask someone who's familiar with it. Still, hitting up ebay or ordering from a UK site shouldn't set you back that much, if you're really intent on it.

    I see it as like watching the Director's Cut of a film; it's the way it was intended to be experienced by the creator. So that may be a good enough reason to pursue it.
  4.  (273.16)
    The total excised lines seem to be about 20 words in 3 books full of politics and religion.

    Calling it the censoring of HDM seems to be reading to much into such a minor - if silly - change. Especially since we do not know the rest of the story. Pullman himself has changed HDM a bit over the years, removing and tweaking a few lines.

    The best example is early editions had a sentence confirming some people had human shaped Deamons (its from one of the scenes in the scholar's crypt) and this information was removed in latter volumes when Pullman decided agaisnt it.
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      CommentAuthorUnsub
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2007
     (273.17)
    I'm having a time out until I can learn some manners.
    Snog to make out made me think that a Brit to Merican dictionary might be an interesting project?
  5.  (273.18)
    A very long dictionary of terms for sex, vices, exclamations and words with the letter u added or taken out?
  6.  (273.19)
    The total excised lines seem to be about 20 words in 3 books full of politics and religion.


    JTraub, where'd you find this out? I'd love to know more of the specifics. If the lines are only those mentioned in the Atlantic article, I could get past it and remember that those lines are supposed to be there. However, I can't say that I trust the publisher to toy with those twenty or so words, and not touch anything else over the course of three massive volumes.

    And even if the removal only amounts to twenty words, it is the reasoning behind them that upsets me. Twenty words can be extremely important. And, when it comes to American publishers and lines or words about sex, I'm going err on the side of caution, and say that they did it out of prudishness. (It's interesting that some people want to dismiss the label of censorship, and label it as prudishness, when I can't see how removing something out of a sense of underage prurient inappropriateness is anything other than censorship. On topics of sex, it's only the prudes that have an interest in removing information.) If Pullman himself wanted them removed because he didn't feel that they accurately reflected his intentions, that would be one thing. I don't see that being the case here.
  7.  (273.20)
    No special knowledge here, just making comments on what we have at hand. We (ok, I can't, lawyer thing) can't assume more changes without citation and so we can only discuss what we know. And assuming it was a publisher's independent act - not one which an editor discussed with Pullman seems unlikely unless we have very explicit evidence of that.

    In addition we know HDM has been tweaked and edited over time, so we don't know the circumstance under which those lines were removed. Notice the interview does not ask Pullman about those lines, it just noted them and moves on. Certain inferences can be drawn, but they are far from certain.