Monday, December 7, 2009

Harlequin reprints pulps, sort of

I love pulp paperbacks, seedier the better. It is part of what is interesting about them--the context in which they are published and the way gender, race, age and other subjects are handled and mishandled. The sad thing is that inexpensive paperbacks are not made to last, and they don't. Many in my collection are literally in the process of decomposing.

I think it is wonderful that many presses, large and small and even via self-publishing, are making vintage paperback available again. And I was pleased to hear that Harlequin was reviving some if its yellowback backlist--until I heard that this included censoring the non-politically correct parts for a "modern audience".

"...behavior—such as hitting a woman—that would be considered totally unacceptable now was quite common sixty years ago. Scenes of near rape would not sit well with a contemporary audience, we were quite convinced. We therefore decided to make small adjustments to the text, only in cases where we felt scenes or phrases would be offensive to a 2009 readership"

I am as left-wing and feminist as they come, but a reprinted books should not be airbrushed to remove its historical roots and original intent. This shows no respect whatsoever for the original author, the genre and age to which he (or occassionally she) belonged, or the audience. We know that sensational genres sometimes appeal to lurid interests, we know that over time the interests have changed, and we know that reprinted books come from a previous era. So keep your sticky editing fingers out of our pulps...

We can handle the truth.

See also:
* As if Harlequin Wasn't In Enough Trouble
* Censorship and Bowdlerization at Harlequin.
* The Big Slap in the Big Sleep


Clair Dickson said...

What next, are someone going to edit the n-word out of the next release of Huck Finn??


corrin said...

I love the old cover artwork.