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  • Writer's picturePete Mesling

The Ones Who Walked Away from Reason: Censoring Ursula K. Le Guin

Since my recent post about the unconscionable rewriting of Roald Dahl’s children’s novels, the ball of ignorance has continued to gather steam as it rolls steadily downhill to include revisions to Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, and now the children’s books of Ursula K. Le Guin. I love my family, but I wouldn’t trust any of them to rewrite a single word of my fiction or poetry. For that reason, I am in no way assuaged by the fact that it's Le Guin’s son who is taking up the charge of gentrifying the language in her published works.

In the Literary Hub article about this egregious act of greed and egoism, Le Guin’s son cops to putting more faith in "a disability rights attorney, a youth literature consultant, a racial educator, and some kids" than he does in the right of his own mother to lay down words in the manner of her own choosing. (Interesting, by the way, that it should be a man who puts her writing in its place.)

I find all of this so obviously deplorable that I barely have the patience to formulate an argument against such an abuse of inherited power. I read to learn about myself and the world around me, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction that I’m engaged in. My trust is in the opinions and prestidigitation of the writer (and any concessions made along the way to an editor or publisher–or priest or other confidant, for that matter). The half-formed opinions of a disability rights attorney, a youth literature consultant (whatever that is), a racial educator (whatever that is), and some kids mean absolutely nothing to me once the writer in question is dead. Nor do the opinions of the writer’s entitled offspring, frankly.

I see a future of readers sitting in blasted-out tenements in a post-apocalyptic hellscape with dimwitted smiles on their faces as the sanitized words on their e-readers paint comforting pictures and tell reassuring lies. I suppose this is a utopian vision, on the one hand, as it assumes that reading has a future at all. Still, I want no part of it, for myself or future generations.

Have a nice day.

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