lit crit 101 (was: Gender Issues)

Subject: lit crit 101 (was: Gender Issues)
From: Mc Jdub <wigginje -at- PSSCH -dot- PS -dot- GE -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 14 Aug 1997 10:55:24 -0400

> Now, regardless of how you think the gender issue should be dealt
> with
> (he/she vs. s/he, etc.), I am curious to know how everyone feels
> about
> correcting famous texts/quotations to avoid generic pronouns? Is
> it
> right to take a famous quote, such as "From each according to his
> abilities, to each according to his needs," (Karl Marx) and
> change it
> to "From each of us according to our abilities, to each of us
> according to our needs?" Is it right to take a famous passage
> from oh
> say Shakespeare and change it?
>
I think the examples were used merely for instructive purposes with the
intent that they be memorable, and were not meant to be taken as
suggestions to alter the original prose. (And BTW: any such alteration
would not be a "correction.")

The answer to the question about changing a published author's prose is
an emphatic "No." But who IS proposing such a thing?

> There are those who would argue that the
> meaning of the text/quote is not changed by such alteration. I
> agree--the meaning is NOT changed, but that's irrelevant.
It is relevant. If you change "he" to "she," you have changed the
meaning. If you change "she" to "he," you have also changed the
meaning. If you change anything at all you have changed the meaning.
(Of course, even if you *don't* change anything, the "meaning" will
still change, over time. But that's another discussion.) Regardless of
where we attribute the source of meaning (to the author, to the reader,
to the community of readers, to the interaction of author and reader, to
none of the above), the "meaning" will be changed with any alteration we
make.

I hope this has been meaningful for you,
Jeff Wiggin
mailto:wigginje -at- pssch -dot- ps -dot- ge -dot- com



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