Monday, January 10, 2011
Crime Fiction Alphabet 2011 starts now! This week's letter is: A
To celebrate the letter A and also to show my love to the Queen of Mystery herself, I dedicate the letter A to Agatha Christie's masterpiece: And Then There Were None.
This novel was first published in England on November 6, 1939 under the name Ten Little Nigger but changed to the current title due to derogatory meaning of Nigger, especially toward black community.
The original version of Ten Little Niggers rhyme:
Ten little nigger boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were Nine.
Nine little nigger boys sat up very late; One overslept himself and then there were Eight.
Eight little nigger boys travelling in Devon; One said he’d stay there and then there were Seven.
Seven little nigger boys chopping up sticks; One chopped himself in halves and then there were Six.
Six little nigger boys playing with a hive; A bumble bee stung one and then there were Five.
Five little nigger boys going in for law; One got into chancery and then there were Four.
Four little nigger boys going out to sea; A red herring swallowed one and then there were Three.
Three little nigger boys walking in the zoo; A big bear hugged one and then there were Two.
Two little nigger boys sitting in the sun; One got frizzled up and then there was One.
One little nigger boy left all alone; He went and hanged himself and then there were None…
Later on the N-word was changed into Indian. They - whoever they were - considered the N-word in here as offensive but not for the word 'Indian' although if this rhyme was considered as racist and mockery toward black community by portraying death of black children, thus the N-word was forbade, then the word 'Indian' should be viewed the same. With all due respect toward black people, apparently people in those days thought that it was forbidden to mock black people but it was okay to mock Indian, crocked logic. Perhaps this is due to my ignorance as I didn't live in US where I could witness the effect of using the N-word, but this is solemnly based on my view that everything should be treated similar. If the word nigger in this rhyme considered as offensive toward black people, then changing it to Indian means it's offensive toward Indian people.
In essential, I'm against any form of censorship toward book. Let the readers read the original version! Let them think and value it by themselves, let them understand the circumstances during the time those books were created so they could cherish and understand the progress we've achieved today. Instead of banning books or censoring it, discuss it! So we could see the book from different point of view and gain better understanding.