Well, the mosquitoes have effectively robbed my summer. Thanks to the weekly heavy rains since mid-May, I can no longer enjoy being outside. Not in a million years would I wish for drought to dry up the swarms, as droughts are terrible things. But I can’t deny I’m longing for a dry August and September. Yard work is off the table with these pests flying in your face and biting every inch of you. That’s not good for us. We have an outdoor wedding in our yard the first weekend of October. Extrapolating generations of mosquitoes ahead from now until frost kills them off, I must borrow another’s words and say — oh, that way madness lies.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m a fan of Shakespeare. That final statement comes from the Bard, himself. The way the man crafted thought was genus. His sentences were often double entendre in the truest sense– lines with more than one applicable meaning. Some have tried to change William Shakespeare’s wording to suit their own needs over the centuries, and by doing so, stripped away the nuanced double meanings hidden in his words. One man went to far as to clean up William Shakespeare’s entire works. My post is about that guy because today is Bowdler Day.
Thomas Bowdler, (1754 -1825) was an English doctor of medicine and a philanthropist. As far as I know, he was known for two things: his book Family Shakspeare written in 1818, and the fact his name gave us this word:
to expurgate a written work by removing or modifying passages considered vulgar or objectionable.
Bowdler completely missed the humor and depth in William Shakespeare’s double entendre. He felt the “vulgar parts” written in the Bard’s 37 works were only there to titillate and appease the vulgar crowds of the day. So Bowdler took it upon himself to censure Shakespeare. The man even changed William Shakespeare’s name for his book Family Shakspeare. How’s that for pomposity?
Here’s a sampling:
Lady Macbeth cries “Out, damned spot!”
Lady Macbeth cries “Out, crimson spot!”
Hamlet’s Ophelia commits suicide
Hamlet’s Ophelia dies in an accident
Romeo & Juliet’s Mercutio says “the bawdy hand of the dial is now upon the prick of noon”
Romeo & Juliet’s Mercutio says “the hand of the dial is now upon the point of noon”
There are bawdier examples but I won’t use them here. I well remember how another author’s adult fiction caused my blog to be suspended simply because my blog was attached to her blog through a multi-author blog hop one week. The adult content sweep snagged my blog in its net because she used $100 adult-themed tag words. The suspension had nothing to do with my content and was quickly resolved by WordPress. Still…
So needless to say, the passages I’m thinking about are raw and gritty. But part of the beauty and joy of reading Shakespeare is discovering the grittiness. His words encapsulate the times in which he lived — the bawdy London streets, the stink of the Thames, the reek and coarseness from every corner of Elizabethan England. The Bard’s sense of humor and delicious innuendo are hidden between his lines. Take it from me– Shakespeare’s innuendo is worth reading for all of that visual, visceral history. Such a loss to clean it up and supremely arrogant to even try.
I think William Shakespeare wouldn’t have appreciated this bowdlerizing censorship of his works. I think he would have punched ol’ Thomas Bowdler in the nose. In honor of one of the greatest storytellers the world has ever known, I officially change Bowdler Day to Punch Bowdler in the Nose Day.
My 100 things will focus on malapropisms and I’ll stick with it until I can’t find any more. From the French mal a propos (meaning inappropriate). Dictionary.com defines malapropisms as an act or habit of misusing words ridiculously, especially by the confusion of words that are similar in sound.
Here’s one for today:
She has extra-century perception.
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Speaking of those ‘gritty’ words, isn’t it interesting how young children latch onto those words that leave us shocked when we hear them come out of their mouths? Dropping in on the road trip.
I’d love to punch ol’ Bowdler, Rose. You are spot on. Arrogant man…