CHANGING THE TEXTS… OF GEORGE ORWELL by Dr Joseph P Farrell for Giza Death Star
For some time I’ve been warning of the danger of e-book platforms like Kindle and Nook and so on, which to my mind surrender undue influence and control over texts to corporations which, with their record of supporting political correctness and other kinds of tom-foolery, could be a bad thing. Repeatedly I’ve warned that e-books, like any cyber system, are not really secure, and that anyone could hack into them and change the text of books to suit their political or cultural agendas. Over and over I’ve warned that e-books would be like the old Soviet Encyclopedia, on steroids, this year Yezhov is in the picture with Stalin, next year he isn’t, because he’s been purged. Or, imagine e-book versions of the Book of Common Prayer or other Christian or, for that matter, any other religious text. It would be a theological revisionist’s dream come true; troublesome texts could be revised, disturbing traditions could be expunged, at the push of a button. No need for cumbersome “ecumenical councils” like Vatican II to do the dirty work. My other big problem with the whole concept has been that ebooks change formatting… and what happens to scholarship if pages numbers of particular passage keep fluctuating? How does one cite an ever-fluctuating, mutating text?
Well, K.M. spotted this article in the New York Times, and it seems that my warnings are coming true to a certain extent:
As the article points out, some books are presuming to “improve” on an author, in this case, George Orwell:
Most of the distorted texts are likely due to ignorance and sloppiness but at their most radical the books try to improve Orwell, as with the unauthorized “high school edition” of his 1933 memoir. The editing was credited to a Moira Propreat. She could not be reached for comment; in fact, her existence could not be verified.
“Down and Out” is an unflinching look at brutal behavior among starving people, which makes Ms. Propreat’s self-appointed task of rendering the book “more palatable” rather quixotic. An example of her handiwork came when Charlie, a boastful rapist, described how he lured a young woman into his clutches:
“‘Come here, my chicken,’ I called to her.”
Ms. Propreat’s version:
“‘Come here,’ I called to her.”
It’s unlikely that Orwell, a finicky master of English prose, would have appreciated this editing — nor the fact that all the French in the book is rendered in capital letters, which makes it seem like the writer is shouting at the reader.
As one can guess, most of the article is concerned with false or faked copies of famous literary works being offered by sellers such as Amazon, and with Amazon’s alleged lack of proper curation of the texts it is selling. But it’s difficult to imagine how Amazon, or any other company, can keep track of the hundreds of thousands of titles it is selling. As an author, for me part of the problem of curation lies with the consumer, and to that end, I’ve publicly and repeatedly stated that the only canonical text of my books are the hard copy books that come directly from my publishers. More recently, I’ve taken to self-publishing, partly in order to maintain my own personal oversight of the actual text of my works. I do not, and will never, recognize any e-book platform of any of my books as canonical, and have prohibited my publishers from offering any further books as e-books, should I choose to publish with them again.’