Bowdlerization

Definition: to remove material that is considered offensive or objectionable

It was named for Thomas Bowdler. In the 1800s, he published The Family Shakespeare, which was a version of Shakespeare’s plays which he felt were more suitable for families.

Wikipedia has some examples of his changes.

Why I Looked It Up

I was reading a review of the movie A Thousand Acres, based on the book of the same name by Jane Smiley, which was itself a modern retelling of King Lear.

That Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres would become a movie was inevitable. Another virtual certainty was its bowdlerization.

Weirdly, the review leaves that unexplained. I couldn’t find any other reference to the removal of anything offensive. Additionally, I saw the movie in the theater 20 years ago, and if I remember correctly, it depicted adultery, sexual abuse, and domestic violence.

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