Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

It's the end of intelligence

Some illiterate fool at Macmillan Press rewrote "The Great Gatsby" using only 1600 basic words.  Why did this idiot do that?  Because students are not being taught how to read, so why give them books that they HAVE to read to comprehend?  Why not give them a bowdlerized  "Reader's Digest" version with all the three-and-above syllable words cut out so they can at least get that down right?  After all, schools are no longer about teaching kids anything; they're just day-care with lessons that mean nothing.

I cannot express how pissed off this makes me.  You want to know just how disgraceful this...this rape of a great book is?  Here's the original first few paragraphs --

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.

"Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."

He didn't say any more, but we've always been unusually communicative in a reserved way, and I understood that he meant a great deal more than that. In consequence, I'm inclined to reserve all judgments, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores. The abnormal mind is quick to detect and attach itself to this quality when it appears in a normal person, and so it came about that in college I was unjustly accused of being a politician, because I was privy to the secret griefs of wild, unknown men. Most of the confidences were unsought -- frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation, or a hostile levity when I realized by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon; for the intimate revelations of young men, or at least the terms in which they express them, are usually plagiaristic and marred by obvious suppressions. Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope. I am still a little afraid of missing something if I forget that, as my father snobbishly suggested, and I snobbishly repeat, a sense of the fundamental decencies is parcelled out unequally at birth.

And, after boasting this way of my tolerance, I come to the admission that it has a limit. Conduct may be founded on the hard rock or the wet marshes, but after a certain point I don't care what it's founded on. When I came back from the East last autumn I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart. Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction -- Gatsby, who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn. If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of the "creative temperament."-- it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again. No -- Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.

My family have been prominent, well-to-do people in this Middle Western city for three generations. The Carraways are something of a clan, and we have a tradition that we're descended from the Dukes of Buccleuch, but the actual founder of my line was my grandfather's brother, who came here in fifty-one, sent a substitute to the Civil War, and started the wholesale hardware business that my father carries on to-day.

Here is how it now reads --  

"My name is Nick Carraway. I was born in a big city in the Middle West."

In other words, "Meet Dick.  Meet Jane.  See Dick and Jane.  See Dick and Jane walk.  See Dick and Jane talk."

The new ending is even worse.  It's like the bitch who dumbed it down never read the actual book.  I wish I could say it's a joke, but it's really just a desecration...and that it's happening more and more to great works (like "nigger" being removed from "Huckleberry Finn" because it might offend someone, and never mind that the story shows it to be a stupid, disgusting, inhuman thing to say) only proves the US is now on the decline.  I'm sick about it.

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