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Old 25 June 2018, 06:26 PM
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Reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's name has been stripped from a prestigious book award...

Laura Ingalls Wilder's name has been stripped from a prestigious book award because of racist themes

After months of deliberation, the organization behind a prestigious book award has decided to remove the name of author Laura Ingalls Wilder because of her portrayal of Native Americans. The Association for Library Service gives out the "Laura Ingalls Wilder Award" yearly to authors whose work has made a lasting impact on the world of children's literature. The honor will now be known as the Children's Literature Legacy Award.


https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/25/us/la...rnd/index.html
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Old 25 June 2018, 06:53 PM
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Makes sense.

I didn't even like those books when I was forced to read them in grade school.
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Old 25 June 2018, 06:56 PM
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I loved those books as a child and when I was older went out of my way to track down the other titles (West From Home etc) and to read biographies of her life. That she was a product of her time is undeniable and I don't have a problem with them changing the name of the award. I would have a big problem if they edited her books and changed them to reflect contemporary values however.
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Old 25 June 2018, 07:33 PM
Ellestar Ellestar is offline
 
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When I was a kid and just starting to read on my own, I had a hard time relating to most characters UNLESS they had the same name as I did (which is Laura).

I honestly don't remember a lot of this series, even though I read every single one as a child around the ages of 9 through 11 and that doing so put me years ahead of my cohort in reading. I don't remember the racism in them, though reading the link, I'm sure I would have thought, "Well, THAT'S pretty backward thinking," as characters said racist things or held racist beliefs.

I agree with Sue that the books don't need to be edited to reflect current-day beliefs because Wilder was attempting to show what life was like in a frontier family back in those days. The racism was rampant and that's just one more thing that's different. And I'm also fine with changing the name of the award. I'm sure there have been authors since Wilder's time that can also represent children's story-telling awards that reflect our modern-day values.

This isn't to say, though, that I'm against any and all editing of racism out of books. I say this because I just finished the Agatha Christie story And Then There Were None yesterday and looked up information on it afterward. In the story, the murders center around a nursery rhyme "Ten Little Soldiers" that fall one-by-one kind of like the "Monkeys on the Bed" rhyme, but less repetitious. The group meets on "Soldier Island," and start dying mysteriously. After, when I looked it up, I saw that, in England, the original title for the book was "Ten Little Soldiers." Only the original rhyme, and the original title, didn't use the word "soldiers," it used the n-word. I would NEVER have read the book had it used the original title or nursery rhyme and was glad for the editing as the word was not necessary and "soldier" held the place just as well as the original word did.
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Old 25 June 2018, 08:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellestar View Post
I would NEVER have read the book had it used the original title or nursery rhyme and was glad for the editing as the word was not necessary and "soldier" held the place just as well as the original word did.
Agreed. It was a minor bit of editing that made no difference to the story and a big difference to whether modern readers would want to read it!

I read a children's book a few years that was written fairly recently but was set in the US during the Great Depression. It was written in the first person and occasionally the author (character) would reference someone as being "coloured" or "negro". At first this bothered me but then I realized that if you were writing a story set in the '30s these was probably the terms that were in common usage and were considered polite. It would have been anachronistic to use more contemporary terms I suspect. Writing historical fiction today must be a real balancing act between trying to stay true to the time you are writing about but also staying true to today's standards.

Last edited by Sue; 25 June 2018 at 08:28 PM.
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Old 25 June 2018, 08:17 PM
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I don't like the change, but why the hell didn't they choose a name with vigor and memorable?
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Old 26 June 2018, 02:42 PM
Sooeygun Sooeygun is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellestar View Post
This isn't to say, though, that I'm against any and all editing of racism out of books. I say this because I just finished the Agatha Christie story And Then There Were None yesterday and looked up information on it afterward. In the story, the murders center around a nursery rhyme "Ten Little Soldiers" that fall one-by-one kind of like the "Monkeys on the Bed" rhyme, but less repetitious. The group meets on "Soldier Island," and start dying mysteriously. After, when I looked it up, I saw that, in England, the original title for the book was "Ten Little Soldiers." Only the original rhyme, and the original title, didn't use the word "soldiers," it used the n-word. I would NEVER have read the book had it used the original title or nursery rhyme and was glad for the editing as the word was not necessary and "soldier" held the place just as well as the original word did.
I didn't know about the original title. My first awareness of the book was as "Ten Little Indians", but didn't know that was actually considered a more 'PC' version of an earlier title.
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Old 26 June 2018, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Morrigan View Post
I don't like the change, but why the hell didn't they choose a name with vigor and memorable?
I suspect in terms of honouring a different writer they may have thought they'd have to rename it again when times and values change. Other than naming the award after a person what name would you have suggested they use?
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Old 26 June 2018, 03:31 PM
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I never read the books, and even though I live in MN I am not well versed in Wilder lore.

So, when I came across this write up yesterday reviewing a new book on her life I found it interesting since I didn't really know anything about her or her daughter.

If you like biographies or history, you might find it interesting. The second half of the article I was particularly intrigued by since I had clue about the politics, the involvement of her daughter, and how the show spun out from the books.

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2018...er-and-wilder/

Quote below talking about the daughter, Rose Lane, and the rights to her mother's work.

Quote:
During the Depression, with the election of Franklin Roosevelt, and in the years leading up to the war, Lane’s politics became ever more strident, her letters “hectic and unhinged.” (Fraser notes that Wilder’s own political views, meanwhile, “were more casual, of a piece with rural, conservative, small-town life.”) Lane behaved as if government interference in her life posed an existential threat. She eventually wrote a quasi-philosophical book, The Discovery of Freedom, which was derivative and poorly reviewed. She also found a fourth and final adoptive son upon whom to dote: Roger MacBride, the child of a senior editor at Reader’s Digest.

In the story of the appropriation of Wilder’s Little House books by the American right, MacBride is a major figure. A willing sponge for Lane’s political opinions, he quickly became a prominent libertarian agitator. In 1962, he won a seat in the Vermont House of Representatives on that platform, and campaigned unsuccessfully for governor in 1964. He ultimately became a libertarian presidential candidate in 1976, backed by the billionaire conservative funder Charles Koch.

Through sleight of hand, MacBride came to control the rights to Wilder’s work: Lane inherited those rights from her mother upon her death in 1957, three days after her ninetieth birthday. As Lane was childless, the rights should have passed after her death in 1968 “to the Mansfield branch library, which bore Wilder’s name”; but MacBride, acting as executor, transferred the copyrights to himself. By 1974, “he had registered in his own name the copyrights to her posthumously published work as well. His literary takeover of the Wilder estate was complete.”

MacBride then decided to license the Little House series for television, and entered into an agreement with Ed Friendly, whose family company still retains the film, television, and theme park rights. Friendly in turn negotiated a deal with Michael Landon, a star of Bonanza, and ultimately most famous for his role as Pa Ingalls. The series, “ahistorical” and “not so much an adaptation as a hyperbolic fantasy spin-off,” was wildly successful—Ronald Reagan cited it as a favorite—and ran from 1974 to 1983. Friendly joked that the series should be renamed “How Affluent Is My Prairie?” Fraser contends that the show was political, whether or not Landon conceded the fact, not least in creating an untruthfully sunny portrait of small-scale farming, but also in that it served, in the eyes of Native American scholars and activists, as “little more than a justification for American colonialism.”
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Old 26 June 2018, 03:40 PM
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I knew that Roger MacBride had been Lane's heir, and that he wrote (or at least had his name on) the series that was written about Rose Wilder Lane as a child but I didn't realize that he took advantage of an elderly woman to make himself her heir! Or is this speculation on the part of the author? In the last few years there has been a resurgence of interest in Laura Ingalls Wilder and in Rose Wilder Lane and nothing sells a book better than scandal even if you have to stretch to find it by connecting dots that might not actually have connected without a little imagination.
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Old 26 June 2018, 03:54 PM
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Good question. I'm not sure. The review did intrigue me enough to consider reading the book, however, so they did a good job considering I had never really been interested before.

I suppose I should have some background however, considering how local the history is...I'm sure I've driven past at least one of the museums dedicated to her before, so maybe it will get me to actually visit one in the future.
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Old 26 June 2018, 04:30 PM
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It's pretty interesting reading about the real story of her life. 'Pa' definitely wasn't like the Michael Landon 'Pa'. Skipping out on rent, always looking for the next deal. Must have been a hard life for Ma.
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Old 26 June 2018, 05:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sue View Post
I suspect in terms of honouring a different writer they may have thought they'd have to rename it again when times and values change. Other than naming the award after a person what name would you have suggested they use?
I didn't say it had to be honouring a different writer. Something more memorable would be better, as the name is bland. Like I said, something with vigor would have been nice. Give me a few months, and I could probably come up with something better, IMO - and these people had a bit longer than that and this was the best they could come up with?
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Old 26 June 2018, 05:43 PM
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This almost seems like her politics or the politics of those who control the estate today, are the cause of the name change, not her literature. Perhaps the Mark Twain Comedy Award should be changed as he used the n word a lot. Or the Jefferson Award should be changed as he was a slave owner. Sometime we have to realize people are a product of their times. And we need to make sure times continue to change.
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Old 26 June 2018, 05:58 PM
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Twain used the n word in his books, but as far as I know he never vilified any characters in his books for being black. Nobody's suggesting that all of Wilder's work be burned or something, people just think that some parts of her work mean that it's not that appropriate to continue putting her name on an award anymore.
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Old 26 June 2018, 06:27 PM
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Twain was using that word for a purpose; and the purpose was to show that its use was a part of the ignorance and prejudice of the characters whose mouths he put it into.

Wilder, as near as I can tell (and going partly by the book just discussed, which I took out of the library recently and did read), just doesn't seem to have thought about it. Her failure to do so, it seems to me, needs to be discussed along with any reading of the books. I don't think that failure destroys the other value of the books (which I discovered as an adult, FWIW); but I can certainly see that that's an arguable opinion. -- another entire area she seems not to have thought about is the extent to which her family took part in the destruction of the open prairie which she so loved, and which seems to me to be the heart of the books -- the small child running nearly free in those open spaces, in a family that she perceived as a child as knowing everything they needed to know to stay alive there. They didn't, of course, because they neither understood where they were nor how they were helping to destroy it. Wilder includes in the books a great deal of how Laura's life became forced into other directions, but seems not to notice how the prairie itself was also forced into constrictions not suited to it.


Jefferson is a whole other tangled up case. I think I've said before on these boards that it seems to me the history of the USA can be seen as in large part a hundreds-of-years long argument over what the phrase "All men are created equal" means. We need to teach, certainly, that Jefferson wrote that, and that it mattered; but we also need to teach that he was a slaveholder when he wrote it, and continued to be one.
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