However, she recovered nicely when she read the actual article. Those scamps in the headline department just love to tweak Miss Snark's moral outrage before breakfast.
From ArtsJournal.com a wonderful place to find mainstream news and some interesting blogs comes the headline: Dumbing Down The Classics?
Needless to say, Miss Snark clutched her six volumes of Proust close to her heart and read on:
Publishers realize there are plenty of books out there that everyone knows but few have read. Is it because they're too hard? So publishers are putting out "new editions of some of the great, often unread, works with a fresh emphasis on 'accessibility'. Some may call it dumbing down. The books will be, well, simpler. One of the first to receive the treatment is Tolstoy's War and Peace, republished this month by Penguin in a new, reader-friendly translation."
Then there is a link to the actual article in the UK paper The Guardian.here
Turns out they are bringing out the first new translation of War and Peace in fifty years.
Not quite what "dumbing down" means in common usage, and thank god for that.
A new translation of W&P is cause for celebration. Taking out the difficult-to-follow parts, or cleaning up the names ...that would be dumbing down. As you can see from the article that's not what the translator is doing. He's using less formal grammar perhaps, but I don't think it sounds like W&P is going to be significantly shorter or much altered.
Dumbing down is significantly altering a work to make it "easier" or more politically correct. There was a great hullabaloo here in NYC about the Regents' exam using such dumbed down, sanitized or Bowdlerized versions of great works that the selections missed the whole point of the novel and were sometimes unrecognizable. It's hard to read James Baldwin or Ralph Ellison if you take out all mentions of the "n-word", and violence. There were some egregious examples in the New York Times but Miss Snark was too shocked to remember them.
Think of it as though a Bible had been rewritten leaving out all the "begats". It's a boring section right? I mean, you don't really need it, right? (If you are reading this and do not understand why taking out the begats is a problem, feel free to ask...I have a rant ready).
A new translation does not translate to dumbing down. Writing headlines that miss the point of the article...that's dumb.