Sic Semper Bowdlerizers

It's a sad day when a man has to burn a book, but sometimes it's necessary. Not when it's an evil book, nor (even worse) when it's a badly written book, but when it's a bowdlerized book.

I had a new, nicely illustrated edition of The Jungle Book. It was kept on my "ooh, nice books" shelf and everything.

I pulled it down for to read "The White Seal" to the kids. And the story wasn't in there. Threw me for a loop for a moment. I doubted for a second whether the story had ever been in The Jungle Book at all. And of course, it had been. The publishers had simply decided not to include the story. The only reason I can think of to excise the story, and you should read it to form your own opinion, is that the white seal is white, while all the other seals are normal black seals. It's difficult to find any human racist imperialist stuff in the story. In fact, you'd have to read Kipling backward into the text instead of reading out of the text to even begin to walk down that road.

Yes, the story was written during a time when bizarrely darwinian white man's burden lit was fashionable. Kipling, London, Haggard. But the story stands well apart from that, which the publishers were apparently unable to see.

But worst of all is simply the act of bowdlerizing. Dear fellows, or publish The Jungle Book, or do not. If it's too wicked a book to see the light of day, walk away from it. Have some respect for Mr. Kipling, and a little respect for me.