The N-word of The Narcissus

Yes, a Christian publisher has renamed Joseph Conrad’s novel to avoid offending readers. Why not call it The Narcissus?

About Joanne

Comments

  1. The Narcissus is a better title. I’d point out that Agatha Christie’s famous play with the same word has undergone two name changes to “And Then There Were None” for the same reason.

  2. Play and book. I think it was a book, in fact, before it was a play. Joanne is right- The Narcissus or just Narcissus would be a much better title. Smoother and less clunky than “n-word” which has always sounded inauthentic and childish to me.

  3. It seems to me that this book was renamed at an earlier point in time: I think in seventh grade my English teacher spoke of it having been renamed something like “The Children of the Sea” or some such?

    I agree that “The Narcissus” would be greatly preferable to what has been done.

  4. Diana Senechal says:

    “The N-word of the Narcissus” is silly: it sounds as though Narcissus used the N-word or something. “N-word” is not a substitute for the word–it refers to the word itself.

    Not the same thing, but analogous: a parent might say, “Alex hates the B-word,” (meaning “bedtime”), but the parent would never say, “Alex, time to go to B-word.”

  5. Excellent point Diana Senechal! Nice linguistic analyses of the pointlessness and silliness of “the n-word” both in terms of this book title and its use in daily language.

  6. Diana Senechal says:

    Actually, I just realized the “B-word” should refer to “bed,” not “bedtime,” for the rest to work.

  7. Richard Nieporent says:

    Why stop with only removing the word? Shouldn’t we also have a book burning? Mark Twain, you are next!

  8. Well Richard Nieporent, the alteration of the title was the decision of the book publisher, a private corporation. That’s the free market in action. When you reference book burning, that was a government driven and encouraged series of actions. So you are comparing apples to oranges there.

  9. Richard Nieporent says:

    Swede, I didn’t think it was possible for someone to miss the point I was making, but you succeeded. The point is that it is outrageous for a publisher to bowdlerize a book because it goes against the very essence of what a publisher is supposed to do. It would also help if you would read the article that was being referenced.

    WordBridge Publishing has performed a public service in putting Joseph Conrad’s neglected classic into a form accessible to modern readers. This new version addresses the reason for its neglect: the profusion of the so-called n-word throughout its pages. Hence, the introduction of “n-word” throughout the text, to remove this offence to modern sensibilities.

    It wasn’t simply that they changed the title, which is bad enough. It was removing every instance of the word throughout the text. Hence my reference to book burning since that would also accomplish the same thing, namely destroying something they found offensive. It is an analogy. Now do you understand?

    By the way it is not only governments who can censor things. They just have more power to enforce it. Book burnings have been carried out by other groups, such as churches, in addition to governments.

  10. Richard, do you really not understand the difference between a publisher altering a book so that they can increase the demand for it so that they can earn a profit and a group burning books because it has deemed the entire work “deviant” in some way? Incredible how you see things in black and white. Look up the word “nuance” Richard.

  11. Richard Nieporent says:

    Richard, do you really not understand the difference between a publisher altering a book so that they can increase the demand for it so that they can earn a profit and a group burning books because it has deemed the entire work “deviant” in some way

    Why are you incapable of understanding that a publisher who is reprinting a work of literature is not supposed to alter the parts of the book that they deem to be deviant. If it offends their sensibilities then they should not republish the book. They have no moral right to change the book.

    Incredible how you see things in black and white.

    Yes, you are correct. I view it as a sacrilege to alter a work of art for any reason. Try looking up the word philistine.