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Censoring Homer

December 18, 2017

I have often had strange and unreasonable requests for changes from editors; but the one I’ve received today takes the biscuit.

Over the summer I wrote some educational books for Scholastic International – stories in simple English for use in schools. One of these was a simplified re-telling of The Odyssey. As is well-known, that story includes a scene where Odysseus’s men are turned into pigs by the witch Circe. I’ve just received an email from an editor at Scholastic telling me that because these books will be sold to schools in the Middle East I am not allowed to mention pigs; so could I take them out?

I would feel uneasy in any case about censoring Homer in deference to religious sensibilities; but the truly ridiculous thing is that there are no religious sensibilities involved here. The Islamic prohibition is on eating pigs, not reading about them.

It really does take the biscuit, doesn’t it? It waltzes off with the jolly old Huntley and Palmer.

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  1. Cherylene permalink

    I enjoy your posts Brandon and always read them aloud to my husband, they always bring a smile or in this case we share your bewilderment, with a smile. Better not mention pigs in blankets either.

  2. Simon Carter permalink

    So Kevin Bacon as Hamlet is right out?

  3. Simon Carter permalink

    When the Wolfenden Report was being prepared it was suggested that the names Huntley and Palmer should be used instead of homosexual and prostitute in order to respect the modesty of the secretaries responsible for typing the report.

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