Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Short quote: editing

Wherein Bad Tuesday is what I'll call my sailboat

From wiki, an explanation for Original and Revised Versions of the Bad Tuesday Chapter:
The original 1933 printing of Mary Poppins contained a version of the chapter Bad Tuesday in which Mary and the children use a compass to visit places all over the world in a remarkably short period of time. Because it contained a variety of cultural and racial stereotypes of Chinese, Inuit, Africans, and Native Americans, Travers responded to criticism by revising the chapter in 1981 to include animal representatives instead of people. At the same time, original illustrator Mary Shepard altered the accompanying drawing of the compass to show a Polar Bear at the north, a Macaw at the south, a Panda at the east, and a Dolphin at the west.

From the WeeWeb profile:
In 1981, Travers revised the "Bad Tuesday" chapter of MP, in which Mary Poppins took the children to the four points of a magic compass, where they met stereotype Eskimos, Blacks, Chinese, and American Indians. The Eskimo, Chinese, and Indian stereotypes don't give much offense - they give some, because the presentation of groups as quaintly exotic tends to turn them into toys, but the objection is slight compared to the stereotyping which presents Blacks as apparently stupid, unable to master the language they speak. ("You bring dem chillun dere into ma li'l house for a slice of water-melon right now.")

It's to Travers' credit that although she didn't see why the affectionately-intended stereotypes should give offense, she realized that those who said the stereotypes were offensive were dealing with an important issue. She revised the chapter so that the compass points are represented by a Polar Bear, a Macaw (south), a Panda (east), and a Dolphin (west).

Mary Shepard, the original illustrator, changed the illustration of the compass points accordingly.

Checking Google Books, can only see the revised edition. Upon further Googlebooking, The Death of the Grown-up discusses this. A couple of key pages are missing.

Now all I need to do is find a pre-1981 copy to see how bad it was.


Blogger justkim said...

I think my copy is in a box. I'll see if I can track it down over the weekend.

4/09/2009 07:12:00 PM  
Blogger reader_iam said...

I think it's likely I still have a childhood copy, too. If justkim can't find hers, maybe I can find mine to lend to you for a bit.

As I recall it, my parents used that section--as they did with other books--to discuss depictions in literature/stereotyping and how things were changing. Not such a bad approach, that.

4/10/2009 06:39:00 PM  
Blogger reader_iam said...

Slightly OT, and as related to your other MP post as to this one, lots of current visions of popular children's characters/stories were changed. Another obvious example which leaps to mind is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The actual original book (don't know if it's still available; don't know if it was ever revised), which I still have, contains references to guns, which would surely be considered a modern-day horror. And it's got some pretty obvious stereotypes, too.

4/10/2009 06:44:00 PM  
Blogger reader_iam said...

Confession: My son has read the original Grimm's Fairy Tales which, as you no doubt know, are fairly, well, grim.

And my husband has watched old Westerns with him, too.

Aren't we just awful people?

; )

vh: culte


4/10/2009 06:46:00 PM  
Blogger justkim said...

So, so sorry for the delay. The world sort of blew up. Not in a bad way, just in an "oh my god when did I get a life?" way.

I have pulled my copy, and it is a 1962 book club edition, with the blurb on the cover that says "The famous character on which the Walt Disney film is based" (note no end punctuation, just by the way).

So, yeah. The "Bad Tuesday" chapter is pretty awful. Very cringe-worthy. Let me know what you want to see.

5/02/2009 05:50:00 PM  

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