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Chris Matthew Sciabarra mentions in his short piece on that Ayn Rand's journals have been "bowlderized" and/or censored by editors. Has the ARI and/or any other reputable organizations responded to the claims outlined here and here?

asked Aug 17 '12 at 14:02

Danneskjold_repo's gravatar image


edited Aug 17 '12 at 14:50

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

The Wikipedia article on "Expurgation" begins:

Expurgation is a form of censorship which involves purging anything deemed noxious or offensive, usually from an artistic work.

Expurgation of sexual or lewd content is also called bowdlerization, especially for books, after Thomas Bowdler, who in 1818 published an expurgated edition of William Shakespeare's work that he considered to be more appropriate for women and children. He similarly edited Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

Applying this description of "bowdlerization" to the examples cited in the question, and to David Harriman's own description of his editing policies in the "Editor's Preface," I conclude that it's a huge stretch to describe his editing as "bowdlerization." At best, it might be taken as a light-hearted joke and exaggeration by those who know what "bowdlerization" actually means.

I haven't tried very hard to find any references to Sciabarra on the website of The Ayn Rand Institute, although there might be some brief mention somewhere. I don't see it is a priority issue, given what Mr. Harriman himself explains about his editing in the five reasons for omissions which he lists on pp. xv-xvi. He also states explicitly:

I have included the material that I judge to be of interest to serious philosophical admirers of AR's novels and ideas. This standard is, in effect, a middle ground between the scholar who wants every note, and the casual fan who might be satisfied with a selection of notes on fiction.

answered Aug 18 '12 at 16:25

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

I agree that "bowlderization" is a bit over the top. The part that is worrying in your statement above is when Harriman mentions "admirers". If I read a personal journal, I am interested in the whole person, warts, mistakes and all. I don't want someone editing the journals (which by definition are personal notes) to present an inerrant and "admirable" image. While I find much to admire in Ayn Rand, there are aspects of her character that I don't personally find attractive at all. It's all part of being human, nobody is 100% great/good/smart etc. unless we're getting all religious.

(Aug 18 '12 at 17:49) Danneskjold_repo Danneskjold_repo's gravatar image

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Asked: Aug 17 '12 at 14:02

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Last updated: Aug 18 '12 at 17:49