New Label Slapped On Hemmingway Novels

Penguin Random House has reprinted works by Ernest Hemingway with a new disclaimer (trigger warnings) alerting readers about the “attitudes” and “language” prevalent in the author’s writing as well as his “cultural representations.” 

The Sun Also Rises is widely regarded as one of the best novels of the 20th century; the most recent edition of the book notes that its publishers chose not to censor it, but emphasizes that this decision is in no way an “endorsement” of Hemingway’s original content. Concerns have been voiced that the Nobel Prize winner’s works would be viewed as “cigarette packets” in need of health warnings due to the decision to include a disclaimer to them.

The label alerts that the work was originally published in 1926 and may include language or themes that are offensive to some readers today. In addition, the statement clarifies that the publisher’s choice to maintain the text in its original form does not constitute approval of the views expressed or the language used. A similar disclaimer now appears on copies of Men Without Women, Hemingway’s collection of short stories, with the addition of a note telling readers noting the book was first published in 1927.

Tobacco firms putting health warnings on cigarette packets is a good analogy for the labelling of the latest printings of the Nobel Prize-winning author’s work, which has been called “stupid” and “alarming” by Hemingway specialists. 

Professor Richard Bradford, who wrote a biography of Hemingway in 2018, called the publisher’s remarks “hilarious” if they weren’t so disturbing.

Penguin has just lately started using the relatively new publishing practice of posting trigger warnings in novels that they consider may have the potential to be insulting or disturbing. This approach was recently applied to the world of PG Wodehouse, whose humorous works have also been altered. 

Fleming Publications Ltd. has edited Iam Fleming’s James Bond books for objectionable parts, and Harper Collins has edited Agatha Christie’s mysteries for “offensive” portions.

Virginia Woolf’s “To the Lighthouse” has also been added to the list of books too sensitive for snowflakes readers who may be blindsided by reading something that “triggers” them.

Smelling salts could be supplied with the purchase of every book as well.