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There’s a reason they’re called “pearls” of wisdom. Indeed, just as we would treasure a piece of advice that forever transformed our life, women have worn real pearls as a way of conveying something that is eternally sublime, uniquely timeless and also a challenge to the accepted norms of style.

Or as Vivienne Becker, who penned the forward to the stunning new book The Pearl Necklace, puts it, “Perhaps part of our fascination [with pearls] lies in the contrast between the pristine and the provocative.” The book traces the history of the pearls and, of course, the pearl necklace through the story of Mikimoto.

Certainly, pearls were worn by aristocrats and princesses – Marie Antoinette adored them, no surprise. But, as the book – a collaboration with Assoulinereveals, Kokichi Mikimoto brought them dazzlingly into the modern world, into a post WWI society that was at last beginning to reject the rigidity of the old order. And for a new generation of women who were out there working and changing society, who sought to define their own identity, wearing a pearl necklace meant conveying a confident glamour and a social status that wasn’t merely handed down to her.

Mikimoto won the loyalty, even adoration, of those same women, because they demanded the best. To repay that affinity, Kocichi himself famously and publicly set fire to literally tons of inferior pearls in 1932. No simple publicity stunt, it was meant to definitively define the company’s fierce commitment to the greatest quality.

Pearls, consequently, transcended fashion trends – they elevated every look that one might choose to wear them with. That Mikimito attracted such strong, incomparable – and internationally respected – women as Audrey Hepburn and Diana Vreeland seemed completely natural (“Nothing gives the luxury of pearls,” the latter was quoted as saying.) No two Mikimoto cultured pearls are alike – and the same could be said for the women who have made them a signature part of their aesthetic presentation. It exhibited that one was no longer concerned so much with “class” as they were with exhibiting a sense of class…and impeccable taste.

After the Second World War, Mikimoto pearls became virtually ambassadorial. It was the first Japanese company to attain such rapturous adulation and success in Europe and America – and so perhaps even represented a new hope, the mending of wounds by the sharing of something so ethereally beautiful.

Then as the optimism of the 1950s gave rise to a new era of white-gloved sophistication, the pearl necklace became so perfectly de rigeur. And when the 60s brought on so many youthful style rebellions, Jackie Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor embodied an utterly of-the moment, pearl-bedecked elegance and glamour that seemed just as much with the times.

Perhaps most definingly, in the burgeoning age of advertising, Mikimito eclipsed mere consumerism. Diamonds were popular because they were marketed; pearls were special because they didn’t need to be sold – they just “were.” And “are.”

Now, in a world given over to ephemeral culture and throwaway fashion, Mikimoto pearls have again found a way to represent a most enduring sense of style, the anti-bling, if you will. It’s epitomized by Ginza Special Edition necklace. With its striking 18 karat white gold clasp, 9 carat diamond and matching studs, it is a paradigm of understated glamour and modern elegance – and will correspond with the 2017 opening of a spectacular new flagship store, in the fashionable Ginza district of Tokyo – where the company was founded. (For now, it is available in the New York, Beverly Hills and South Coast Plaza, Las Vegas boutiques.)

So perhaps the timing of The Pearl Necklace could not be more sublime. And to celebrate the collaboration with Assouline, Mikimoto will be putting on glamorous, star-adorned events around the world, including New York and London, the latter of which will feature the book’s author Becker.

Most tellingly, such matchless luminaries of 21st Century culture as Sarah Jessica Parker, Emma Watson, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez have all dazzled pages and stages adorned in Mikimoto pearls – resolute evidence of an eternal and irreplaceable beauty that knows no generational bias…but just as ever represents the soul of a woman of elegant and absolute self-possession. A woman who is empowered by her originality, and by adorning herself in that which is truly original – whether she’s in the boardroom or the VIP room.

The inimitable Coco Chanel said it best: “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”

Sponsored content


A Dr. Seuss Expert Cuts Through the Noise on the Cancel Culture Controversy

On March 2, the nation&rsquos annual Read Across America Day (a holiday once synonymous with Dr. Seuss, designated on this date to honor his birthday), Dr. Seuss Enterprises released an unexpected statement. The venerable author&rsquos estate announced that it has decided to end publication and licensure of six books by Theodor Seuss Geisel, including his first book under his celebrated pen name, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (published in 1937), and If I Ran the Zoo (published in 1950). &ldquoThese books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,&rdquo the statement read, alluding to their appalling racial and ethnic stereotypes.

The estate&rsquos decision prompted days of relentless cable news coverage from Fox News, as well as cries about &ldquocancel culture&rdquo from prominent conservatives, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who accused Democrats of &ldquooutlawing Dr. Seuss&rdquo on the House floor. Sales of Seuss&rsquo most-beloved books skyrocketed amid the discourse, topping Amazon and Barnes and Noble&rsquos online bestseller charts throughout the week. Meanwhile, copies of the now-discounted books soared in price, with resellers listing those titles for up to $500 on eBay.

Dr. Philip Nel, a distinguished professor of children&rsquos literature at Kansas State University and the author of Was The Cat in the Hat Black?, tells Esquire that this conversation about racism and prejudice in Seuss&rsquo books has been underway for decades. Even during the author&rsquos lifetime, Nel reports, Seuss was roundly criticized for racial and gender stereotypes in his books, yet he was also the author of actively anti-racist narratives, like Horton Hears a Who and The Sneetches. Nel spoke with Esquire by phone to explain how we should understand this ongoing conversation about updating and curating Seuss' legacy, as well as how we should talk to children about books that contain racist content.

Esquire: Could you share a few examples of the racist words and racist imagery found in these discontinued books?

Philip Nel: The most egregious ones come in If I Ran the Zoo, from 1950, which includes a page featuring the mountains of Zomba-ma-Tant, with helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant. In this book, Gerald McGrew was collecting animals from around the world for his zoo. These are caricatures of Asian people who are helping him gather the animals. The same book has the African island of Yerka, where Gerald McGrew will bring up a tizzle-topped-tufted Mazurka, an imaginary Seuss bird. It&rsquos being carried by two caricatures of African men who, in addition to the usual racist caricature, also have tufts on their heads, which accentuate their resemblance to the bird. If you miss the animality and the caricature itself, Seuss has got a little extra touch to tie them to the bird.

One of the themes across Seuss&rsquo work is the use of exotic, national, racial, and ethnic others as sources of humor. I don't think he meant that with malice, but to use someone's nationality or race as a punchline doesn't land well, especially if you are a person of that nationality or race. I don't think he thought about how that might be hurtful to the people who identify themselves in that way. I think it's important for people to understand that a lot of Seuss' racism here is operating unconsciously. It's something he learned from being steeped in a very racist American culture, which remains true of American culture today, although in different ways.

In And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, published in 1937, we see a man who eats with sticks he is colored yellow. He has a triangular, conical hat, a long pig tail, and of course, slanted eyes. In 1978, in response to criticism, Seuss revised that drawing. He removed the color yellow and took off the pig tail. It&rsquos still a stereotype&mdashjust a less egregious one. In describing that change, he would say things like, "I removed the color and the pigtail. Now he looks like an Irishman," which is supposed to be a joke, but it also diminishes the importance of that change, and the seriousness of making the change. The basic themes of caricature across these six books are people of African descent, Asian descent, Middle Eastern descent, and Indigenous people.

ESQ: How do the events of this week fit into the context of the broader conversation about Dr. Seuss's work and legacy? Is this the first time that Dr. Seuss Enterprises has taken such an active hand in updating the author&rsquos body of work and rejecting some of his views?

PN: Yes, it is. They have certainly let works go out of print and come back into print before. They have re-published Seuss books under a different pseudonym. He also used the pseudonym Theo LeSieg, for example. His real name was Theodore Seuss Geisel LeSieg is Geisel backwards. He wrote 13 books under that name, so they've published those under Dr. Seuss, the more famous name. But they have never, until now, done what is essentially a product recall, where they&rsquove said, "We're not going to publish these six books anymore. We're essentially taking responsibility for the culture we put out into the world. Profiting off of books with racist imagery is not something we want to do."

I don't know if there's a profound ethical revelation they've had, where they've suddenly realized, "We need to be committed to social justice." I don't know if it's a brand issue. Maybe they realized racism is bad for the brand, and so to sustain the brand, they need to address it. Whatever the motivations are, it's a good decision, but it is the first. It's the first where they'rethoma essentially saying that the product is defective, and they&rsquore not going to manufacture it anymore.

ESQ: Does this decision have precedent with other authors of children&rsquos literature? I&rsquom reminded of when the estate of Hergé pulled books like Tintin in the Congo.

PN: It absolutely has precedent. Dr. Dolittle, for example. You can get a bowdlerized edition of it, which is to say, an edition that's been cleaned up. That term comes from Thomas Bowdler, who produced issues of Shakespeare that were suitable for the family. He cleaned up Shakespeare&rsquos language, so the term to &ldquobowdlerize&rdquo is to clean up a work by removing the "offensive bits."

It&rsquos a solution with problems, but it&rsquos been a strategy that people have taken, both the estates of authors and authors themselves. Roald Dahl changed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which in 1964 had Oompa Loompas who were African Pygmies. From the 1973 edition forward, they are now white and from Loompa Land. It's still Africa, but it's not named as such. They are still an entire race of people who are glad to be shipped in crates to a factory where they live and work, and are paid literally in beans. It doesn't actually erase the slavery colonialist narrative of the book. It makes it less obvious, given that they&rsquore no longer Black, but it doesn't change the fundamental assumptions of the book. In situations like this, the edits usually don&rsquot work. The offensive bits are coded into the structure of the story.

ESQ: You touched on Seuss altering a character in his first book. Were there other occasions of him being called to respond to criticism during his lifetime?

PN: There were, and he was hugely resistant to it. There was one change that he made willingly it was to The Lorax. There was a couplet about Lake Erie in there. It was &ldquosomeplace that isn't so smeary,&rdquo I think, and then a line like, &ldquoThings are pretty bad enough at Lake Erie.&rdquo The people who cleaned up Lake Erie contacted him and said, "Hey, could you take this line out?" He did it willingly.

The change to And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was something he did begrudgingly. Critiques of gender in his works&mdashhe dismissed those out of hand. In Mulberry Street, there&rsquos the line, "Say, even Jane could think of that.&rdquo Why does it have to be a girl who has the inferior imagination? He just mocked that criticism.


A Dr. Seuss Expert Cuts Through the Noise on the Cancel Culture Controversy

On March 2, the nation&rsquos annual Read Across America Day (a holiday once synonymous with Dr. Seuss, designated on this date to honor his birthday), Dr. Seuss Enterprises released an unexpected statement. The venerable author&rsquos estate announced that it has decided to end publication and licensure of six books by Theodor Seuss Geisel, including his first book under his celebrated pen name, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (published in 1937), and If I Ran the Zoo (published in 1950). &ldquoThese books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,&rdquo the statement read, alluding to their appalling racial and ethnic stereotypes.

The estate&rsquos decision prompted days of relentless cable news coverage from Fox News, as well as cries about &ldquocancel culture&rdquo from prominent conservatives, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who accused Democrats of &ldquooutlawing Dr. Seuss&rdquo on the House floor. Sales of Seuss&rsquo most-beloved books skyrocketed amid the discourse, topping Amazon and Barnes and Noble&rsquos online bestseller charts throughout the week. Meanwhile, copies of the now-discounted books soared in price, with resellers listing those titles for up to $500 on eBay.

Dr. Philip Nel, a distinguished professor of children&rsquos literature at Kansas State University and the author of Was The Cat in the Hat Black?, tells Esquire that this conversation about racism and prejudice in Seuss&rsquo books has been underway for decades. Even during the author&rsquos lifetime, Nel reports, Seuss was roundly criticized for racial and gender stereotypes in his books, yet he was also the author of actively anti-racist narratives, like Horton Hears a Who and The Sneetches. Nel spoke with Esquire by phone to explain how we should understand this ongoing conversation about updating and curating Seuss' legacy, as well as how we should talk to children about books that contain racist content.

Esquire: Could you share a few examples of the racist words and racist imagery found in these discontinued books?

Philip Nel: The most egregious ones come in If I Ran the Zoo, from 1950, which includes a page featuring the mountains of Zomba-ma-Tant, with helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant. In this book, Gerald McGrew was collecting animals from around the world for his zoo. These are caricatures of Asian people who are helping him gather the animals. The same book has the African island of Yerka, where Gerald McGrew will bring up a tizzle-topped-tufted Mazurka, an imaginary Seuss bird. It&rsquos being carried by two caricatures of African men who, in addition to the usual racist caricature, also have tufts on their heads, which accentuate their resemblance to the bird. If you miss the animality and the caricature itself, Seuss has got a little extra touch to tie them to the bird.

One of the themes across Seuss&rsquo work is the use of exotic, national, racial, and ethnic others as sources of humor. I don't think he meant that with malice, but to use someone's nationality or race as a punchline doesn't land well, especially if you are a person of that nationality or race. I don't think he thought about how that might be hurtful to the people who identify themselves in that way. I think it's important for people to understand that a lot of Seuss' racism here is operating unconsciously. It's something he learned from being steeped in a very racist American culture, which remains true of American culture today, although in different ways.

In And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, published in 1937, we see a man who eats with sticks he is colored yellow. He has a triangular, conical hat, a long pig tail, and of course, slanted eyes. In 1978, in response to criticism, Seuss revised that drawing. He removed the color yellow and took off the pig tail. It&rsquos still a stereotype&mdashjust a less egregious one. In describing that change, he would say things like, "I removed the color and the pigtail. Now he looks like an Irishman," which is supposed to be a joke, but it also diminishes the importance of that change, and the seriousness of making the change. The basic themes of caricature across these six books are people of African descent, Asian descent, Middle Eastern descent, and Indigenous people.

ESQ: How do the events of this week fit into the context of the broader conversation about Dr. Seuss's work and legacy? Is this the first time that Dr. Seuss Enterprises has taken such an active hand in updating the author&rsquos body of work and rejecting some of his views?

PN: Yes, it is. They have certainly let works go out of print and come back into print before. They have re-published Seuss books under a different pseudonym. He also used the pseudonym Theo LeSieg, for example. His real name was Theodore Seuss Geisel LeSieg is Geisel backwards. He wrote 13 books under that name, so they've published those under Dr. Seuss, the more famous name. But they have never, until now, done what is essentially a product recall, where they&rsquove said, "We're not going to publish these six books anymore. We're essentially taking responsibility for the culture we put out into the world. Profiting off of books with racist imagery is not something we want to do."

I don't know if there's a profound ethical revelation they've had, where they've suddenly realized, "We need to be committed to social justice." I don't know if it's a brand issue. Maybe they realized racism is bad for the brand, and so to sustain the brand, they need to address it. Whatever the motivations are, it's a good decision, but it is the first. It's the first where they'rethoma essentially saying that the product is defective, and they&rsquore not going to manufacture it anymore.

ESQ: Does this decision have precedent with other authors of children&rsquos literature? I&rsquom reminded of when the estate of Hergé pulled books like Tintin in the Congo.

PN: It absolutely has precedent. Dr. Dolittle, for example. You can get a bowdlerized edition of it, which is to say, an edition that's been cleaned up. That term comes from Thomas Bowdler, who produced issues of Shakespeare that were suitable for the family. He cleaned up Shakespeare&rsquos language, so the term to &ldquobowdlerize&rdquo is to clean up a work by removing the "offensive bits."

It&rsquos a solution with problems, but it&rsquos been a strategy that people have taken, both the estates of authors and authors themselves. Roald Dahl changed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which in 1964 had Oompa Loompas who were African Pygmies. From the 1973 edition forward, they are now white and from Loompa Land. It's still Africa, but it's not named as such. They are still an entire race of people who are glad to be shipped in crates to a factory where they live and work, and are paid literally in beans. It doesn't actually erase the slavery colonialist narrative of the book. It makes it less obvious, given that they&rsquore no longer Black, but it doesn't change the fundamental assumptions of the book. In situations like this, the edits usually don&rsquot work. The offensive bits are coded into the structure of the story.

ESQ: You touched on Seuss altering a character in his first book. Were there other occasions of him being called to respond to criticism during his lifetime?

PN: There were, and he was hugely resistant to it. There was one change that he made willingly it was to The Lorax. There was a couplet about Lake Erie in there. It was &ldquosomeplace that isn't so smeary,&rdquo I think, and then a line like, &ldquoThings are pretty bad enough at Lake Erie.&rdquo The people who cleaned up Lake Erie contacted him and said, "Hey, could you take this line out?" He did it willingly.

The change to And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was something he did begrudgingly. Critiques of gender in his works&mdashhe dismissed those out of hand. In Mulberry Street, there&rsquos the line, "Say, even Jane could think of that.&rdquo Why does it have to be a girl who has the inferior imagination? He just mocked that criticism.


A Dr. Seuss Expert Cuts Through the Noise on the Cancel Culture Controversy

On March 2, the nation&rsquos annual Read Across America Day (a holiday once synonymous with Dr. Seuss, designated on this date to honor his birthday), Dr. Seuss Enterprises released an unexpected statement. The venerable author&rsquos estate announced that it has decided to end publication and licensure of six books by Theodor Seuss Geisel, including his first book under his celebrated pen name, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (published in 1937), and If I Ran the Zoo (published in 1950). &ldquoThese books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,&rdquo the statement read, alluding to their appalling racial and ethnic stereotypes.

The estate&rsquos decision prompted days of relentless cable news coverage from Fox News, as well as cries about &ldquocancel culture&rdquo from prominent conservatives, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who accused Democrats of &ldquooutlawing Dr. Seuss&rdquo on the House floor. Sales of Seuss&rsquo most-beloved books skyrocketed amid the discourse, topping Amazon and Barnes and Noble&rsquos online bestseller charts throughout the week. Meanwhile, copies of the now-discounted books soared in price, with resellers listing those titles for up to $500 on eBay.

Dr. Philip Nel, a distinguished professor of children&rsquos literature at Kansas State University and the author of Was The Cat in the Hat Black?, tells Esquire that this conversation about racism and prejudice in Seuss&rsquo books has been underway for decades. Even during the author&rsquos lifetime, Nel reports, Seuss was roundly criticized for racial and gender stereotypes in his books, yet he was also the author of actively anti-racist narratives, like Horton Hears a Who and The Sneetches. Nel spoke with Esquire by phone to explain how we should understand this ongoing conversation about updating and curating Seuss' legacy, as well as how we should talk to children about books that contain racist content.

Esquire: Could you share a few examples of the racist words and racist imagery found in these discontinued books?

Philip Nel: The most egregious ones come in If I Ran the Zoo, from 1950, which includes a page featuring the mountains of Zomba-ma-Tant, with helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant. In this book, Gerald McGrew was collecting animals from around the world for his zoo. These are caricatures of Asian people who are helping him gather the animals. The same book has the African island of Yerka, where Gerald McGrew will bring up a tizzle-topped-tufted Mazurka, an imaginary Seuss bird. It&rsquos being carried by two caricatures of African men who, in addition to the usual racist caricature, also have tufts on their heads, which accentuate their resemblance to the bird. If you miss the animality and the caricature itself, Seuss has got a little extra touch to tie them to the bird.

One of the themes across Seuss&rsquo work is the use of exotic, national, racial, and ethnic others as sources of humor. I don't think he meant that with malice, but to use someone's nationality or race as a punchline doesn't land well, especially if you are a person of that nationality or race. I don't think he thought about how that might be hurtful to the people who identify themselves in that way. I think it's important for people to understand that a lot of Seuss' racism here is operating unconsciously. It's something he learned from being steeped in a very racist American culture, which remains true of American culture today, although in different ways.

In And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, published in 1937, we see a man who eats with sticks he is colored yellow. He has a triangular, conical hat, a long pig tail, and of course, slanted eyes. In 1978, in response to criticism, Seuss revised that drawing. He removed the color yellow and took off the pig tail. It&rsquos still a stereotype&mdashjust a less egregious one. In describing that change, he would say things like, "I removed the color and the pigtail. Now he looks like an Irishman," which is supposed to be a joke, but it also diminishes the importance of that change, and the seriousness of making the change. The basic themes of caricature across these six books are people of African descent, Asian descent, Middle Eastern descent, and Indigenous people.

ESQ: How do the events of this week fit into the context of the broader conversation about Dr. Seuss's work and legacy? Is this the first time that Dr. Seuss Enterprises has taken such an active hand in updating the author&rsquos body of work and rejecting some of his views?

PN: Yes, it is. They have certainly let works go out of print and come back into print before. They have re-published Seuss books under a different pseudonym. He also used the pseudonym Theo LeSieg, for example. His real name was Theodore Seuss Geisel LeSieg is Geisel backwards. He wrote 13 books under that name, so they've published those under Dr. Seuss, the more famous name. But they have never, until now, done what is essentially a product recall, where they&rsquove said, "We're not going to publish these six books anymore. We're essentially taking responsibility for the culture we put out into the world. Profiting off of books with racist imagery is not something we want to do."

I don't know if there's a profound ethical revelation they've had, where they've suddenly realized, "We need to be committed to social justice." I don't know if it's a brand issue. Maybe they realized racism is bad for the brand, and so to sustain the brand, they need to address it. Whatever the motivations are, it's a good decision, but it is the first. It's the first where they'rethoma essentially saying that the product is defective, and they&rsquore not going to manufacture it anymore.

ESQ: Does this decision have precedent with other authors of children&rsquos literature? I&rsquom reminded of when the estate of Hergé pulled books like Tintin in the Congo.

PN: It absolutely has precedent. Dr. Dolittle, for example. You can get a bowdlerized edition of it, which is to say, an edition that's been cleaned up. That term comes from Thomas Bowdler, who produced issues of Shakespeare that were suitable for the family. He cleaned up Shakespeare&rsquos language, so the term to &ldquobowdlerize&rdquo is to clean up a work by removing the "offensive bits."

It&rsquos a solution with problems, but it&rsquos been a strategy that people have taken, both the estates of authors and authors themselves. Roald Dahl changed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which in 1964 had Oompa Loompas who were African Pygmies. From the 1973 edition forward, they are now white and from Loompa Land. It's still Africa, but it's not named as such. They are still an entire race of people who are glad to be shipped in crates to a factory where they live and work, and are paid literally in beans. It doesn't actually erase the slavery colonialist narrative of the book. It makes it less obvious, given that they&rsquore no longer Black, but it doesn't change the fundamental assumptions of the book. In situations like this, the edits usually don&rsquot work. The offensive bits are coded into the structure of the story.

ESQ: You touched on Seuss altering a character in his first book. Were there other occasions of him being called to respond to criticism during his lifetime?

PN: There were, and he was hugely resistant to it. There was one change that he made willingly it was to The Lorax. There was a couplet about Lake Erie in there. It was &ldquosomeplace that isn't so smeary,&rdquo I think, and then a line like, &ldquoThings are pretty bad enough at Lake Erie.&rdquo The people who cleaned up Lake Erie contacted him and said, "Hey, could you take this line out?" He did it willingly.

The change to And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was something he did begrudgingly. Critiques of gender in his works&mdashhe dismissed those out of hand. In Mulberry Street, there&rsquos the line, "Say, even Jane could think of that.&rdquo Why does it have to be a girl who has the inferior imagination? He just mocked that criticism.


A Dr. Seuss Expert Cuts Through the Noise on the Cancel Culture Controversy

On March 2, the nation&rsquos annual Read Across America Day (a holiday once synonymous with Dr. Seuss, designated on this date to honor his birthday), Dr. Seuss Enterprises released an unexpected statement. The venerable author&rsquos estate announced that it has decided to end publication and licensure of six books by Theodor Seuss Geisel, including his first book under his celebrated pen name, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (published in 1937), and If I Ran the Zoo (published in 1950). &ldquoThese books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,&rdquo the statement read, alluding to their appalling racial and ethnic stereotypes.

The estate&rsquos decision prompted days of relentless cable news coverage from Fox News, as well as cries about &ldquocancel culture&rdquo from prominent conservatives, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who accused Democrats of &ldquooutlawing Dr. Seuss&rdquo on the House floor. Sales of Seuss&rsquo most-beloved books skyrocketed amid the discourse, topping Amazon and Barnes and Noble&rsquos online bestseller charts throughout the week. Meanwhile, copies of the now-discounted books soared in price, with resellers listing those titles for up to $500 on eBay.

Dr. Philip Nel, a distinguished professor of children&rsquos literature at Kansas State University and the author of Was The Cat in the Hat Black?, tells Esquire that this conversation about racism and prejudice in Seuss&rsquo books has been underway for decades. Even during the author&rsquos lifetime, Nel reports, Seuss was roundly criticized for racial and gender stereotypes in his books, yet he was also the author of actively anti-racist narratives, like Horton Hears a Who and The Sneetches. Nel spoke with Esquire by phone to explain how we should understand this ongoing conversation about updating and curating Seuss' legacy, as well as how we should talk to children about books that contain racist content.

Esquire: Could you share a few examples of the racist words and racist imagery found in these discontinued books?

Philip Nel: The most egregious ones come in If I Ran the Zoo, from 1950, which includes a page featuring the mountains of Zomba-ma-Tant, with helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant. In this book, Gerald McGrew was collecting animals from around the world for his zoo. These are caricatures of Asian people who are helping him gather the animals. The same book has the African island of Yerka, where Gerald McGrew will bring up a tizzle-topped-tufted Mazurka, an imaginary Seuss bird. It&rsquos being carried by two caricatures of African men who, in addition to the usual racist caricature, also have tufts on their heads, which accentuate their resemblance to the bird. If you miss the animality and the caricature itself, Seuss has got a little extra touch to tie them to the bird.

One of the themes across Seuss&rsquo work is the use of exotic, national, racial, and ethnic others as sources of humor. I don't think he meant that with malice, but to use someone's nationality or race as a punchline doesn't land well, especially if you are a person of that nationality or race. I don't think he thought about how that might be hurtful to the people who identify themselves in that way. I think it's important for people to understand that a lot of Seuss' racism here is operating unconsciously. It's something he learned from being steeped in a very racist American culture, which remains true of American culture today, although in different ways.

In And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, published in 1937, we see a man who eats with sticks he is colored yellow. He has a triangular, conical hat, a long pig tail, and of course, slanted eyes. In 1978, in response to criticism, Seuss revised that drawing. He removed the color yellow and took off the pig tail. It&rsquos still a stereotype&mdashjust a less egregious one. In describing that change, he would say things like, "I removed the color and the pigtail. Now he looks like an Irishman," which is supposed to be a joke, but it also diminishes the importance of that change, and the seriousness of making the change. The basic themes of caricature across these six books are people of African descent, Asian descent, Middle Eastern descent, and Indigenous people.

ESQ: How do the events of this week fit into the context of the broader conversation about Dr. Seuss's work and legacy? Is this the first time that Dr. Seuss Enterprises has taken such an active hand in updating the author&rsquos body of work and rejecting some of his views?

PN: Yes, it is. They have certainly let works go out of print and come back into print before. They have re-published Seuss books under a different pseudonym. He also used the pseudonym Theo LeSieg, for example. His real name was Theodore Seuss Geisel LeSieg is Geisel backwards. He wrote 13 books under that name, so they've published those under Dr. Seuss, the more famous name. But they have never, until now, done what is essentially a product recall, where they&rsquove said, "We're not going to publish these six books anymore. We're essentially taking responsibility for the culture we put out into the world. Profiting off of books with racist imagery is not something we want to do."

I don't know if there's a profound ethical revelation they've had, where they've suddenly realized, "We need to be committed to social justice." I don't know if it's a brand issue. Maybe they realized racism is bad for the brand, and so to sustain the brand, they need to address it. Whatever the motivations are, it's a good decision, but it is the first. It's the first where they'rethoma essentially saying that the product is defective, and they&rsquore not going to manufacture it anymore.

ESQ: Does this decision have precedent with other authors of children&rsquos literature? I&rsquom reminded of when the estate of Hergé pulled books like Tintin in the Congo.

PN: It absolutely has precedent. Dr. Dolittle, for example. You can get a bowdlerized edition of it, which is to say, an edition that's been cleaned up. That term comes from Thomas Bowdler, who produced issues of Shakespeare that were suitable for the family. He cleaned up Shakespeare&rsquos language, so the term to &ldquobowdlerize&rdquo is to clean up a work by removing the "offensive bits."

It&rsquos a solution with problems, but it&rsquos been a strategy that people have taken, both the estates of authors and authors themselves. Roald Dahl changed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which in 1964 had Oompa Loompas who were African Pygmies. From the 1973 edition forward, they are now white and from Loompa Land. It's still Africa, but it's not named as such. They are still an entire race of people who are glad to be shipped in crates to a factory where they live and work, and are paid literally in beans. It doesn't actually erase the slavery colonialist narrative of the book. It makes it less obvious, given that they&rsquore no longer Black, but it doesn't change the fundamental assumptions of the book. In situations like this, the edits usually don&rsquot work. The offensive bits are coded into the structure of the story.

ESQ: You touched on Seuss altering a character in his first book. Were there other occasions of him being called to respond to criticism during his lifetime?

PN: There were, and he was hugely resistant to it. There was one change that he made willingly it was to The Lorax. There was a couplet about Lake Erie in there. It was &ldquosomeplace that isn't so smeary,&rdquo I think, and then a line like, &ldquoThings are pretty bad enough at Lake Erie.&rdquo The people who cleaned up Lake Erie contacted him and said, "Hey, could you take this line out?" He did it willingly.

The change to And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was something he did begrudgingly. Critiques of gender in his works&mdashhe dismissed those out of hand. In Mulberry Street, there&rsquos the line, "Say, even Jane could think of that.&rdquo Why does it have to be a girl who has the inferior imagination? He just mocked that criticism.


A Dr. Seuss Expert Cuts Through the Noise on the Cancel Culture Controversy

On March 2, the nation&rsquos annual Read Across America Day (a holiday once synonymous with Dr. Seuss, designated on this date to honor his birthday), Dr. Seuss Enterprises released an unexpected statement. The venerable author&rsquos estate announced that it has decided to end publication and licensure of six books by Theodor Seuss Geisel, including his first book under his celebrated pen name, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (published in 1937), and If I Ran the Zoo (published in 1950). &ldquoThese books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,&rdquo the statement read, alluding to their appalling racial and ethnic stereotypes.

The estate&rsquos decision prompted days of relentless cable news coverage from Fox News, as well as cries about &ldquocancel culture&rdquo from prominent conservatives, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who accused Democrats of &ldquooutlawing Dr. Seuss&rdquo on the House floor. Sales of Seuss&rsquo most-beloved books skyrocketed amid the discourse, topping Amazon and Barnes and Noble&rsquos online bestseller charts throughout the week. Meanwhile, copies of the now-discounted books soared in price, with resellers listing those titles for up to $500 on eBay.

Dr. Philip Nel, a distinguished professor of children&rsquos literature at Kansas State University and the author of Was The Cat in the Hat Black?, tells Esquire that this conversation about racism and prejudice in Seuss&rsquo books has been underway for decades. Even during the author&rsquos lifetime, Nel reports, Seuss was roundly criticized for racial and gender stereotypes in his books, yet he was also the author of actively anti-racist narratives, like Horton Hears a Who and The Sneetches. Nel spoke with Esquire by phone to explain how we should understand this ongoing conversation about updating and curating Seuss' legacy, as well as how we should talk to children about books that contain racist content.

Esquire: Could you share a few examples of the racist words and racist imagery found in these discontinued books?

Philip Nel: The most egregious ones come in If I Ran the Zoo, from 1950, which includes a page featuring the mountains of Zomba-ma-Tant, with helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant. In this book, Gerald McGrew was collecting animals from around the world for his zoo. These are caricatures of Asian people who are helping him gather the animals. The same book has the African island of Yerka, where Gerald McGrew will bring up a tizzle-topped-tufted Mazurka, an imaginary Seuss bird. It&rsquos being carried by two caricatures of African men who, in addition to the usual racist caricature, also have tufts on their heads, which accentuate their resemblance to the bird. If you miss the animality and the caricature itself, Seuss has got a little extra touch to tie them to the bird.

One of the themes across Seuss&rsquo work is the use of exotic, national, racial, and ethnic others as sources of humor. I don't think he meant that with malice, but to use someone's nationality or race as a punchline doesn't land well, especially if you are a person of that nationality or race. I don't think he thought about how that might be hurtful to the people who identify themselves in that way. I think it's important for people to understand that a lot of Seuss' racism here is operating unconsciously. It's something he learned from being steeped in a very racist American culture, which remains true of American culture today, although in different ways.

In And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, published in 1937, we see a man who eats with sticks he is colored yellow. He has a triangular, conical hat, a long pig tail, and of course, slanted eyes. In 1978, in response to criticism, Seuss revised that drawing. He removed the color yellow and took off the pig tail. It&rsquos still a stereotype&mdashjust a less egregious one. In describing that change, he would say things like, "I removed the color and the pigtail. Now he looks like an Irishman," which is supposed to be a joke, but it also diminishes the importance of that change, and the seriousness of making the change. The basic themes of caricature across these six books are people of African descent, Asian descent, Middle Eastern descent, and Indigenous people.

ESQ: How do the events of this week fit into the context of the broader conversation about Dr. Seuss's work and legacy? Is this the first time that Dr. Seuss Enterprises has taken such an active hand in updating the author&rsquos body of work and rejecting some of his views?

PN: Yes, it is. They have certainly let works go out of print and come back into print before. They have re-published Seuss books under a different pseudonym. He also used the pseudonym Theo LeSieg, for example. His real name was Theodore Seuss Geisel LeSieg is Geisel backwards. He wrote 13 books under that name, so they've published those under Dr. Seuss, the more famous name. But they have never, until now, done what is essentially a product recall, where they&rsquove said, "We're not going to publish these six books anymore. We're essentially taking responsibility for the culture we put out into the world. Profiting off of books with racist imagery is not something we want to do."

I don't know if there's a profound ethical revelation they've had, where they've suddenly realized, "We need to be committed to social justice." I don't know if it's a brand issue. Maybe they realized racism is bad for the brand, and so to sustain the brand, they need to address it. Whatever the motivations are, it's a good decision, but it is the first. It's the first where they'rethoma essentially saying that the product is defective, and they&rsquore not going to manufacture it anymore.

ESQ: Does this decision have precedent with other authors of children&rsquos literature? I&rsquom reminded of when the estate of Hergé pulled books like Tintin in the Congo.

PN: It absolutely has precedent. Dr. Dolittle, for example. You can get a bowdlerized edition of it, which is to say, an edition that's been cleaned up. That term comes from Thomas Bowdler, who produced issues of Shakespeare that were suitable for the family. He cleaned up Shakespeare&rsquos language, so the term to &ldquobowdlerize&rdquo is to clean up a work by removing the "offensive bits."

It&rsquos a solution with problems, but it&rsquos been a strategy that people have taken, both the estates of authors and authors themselves. Roald Dahl changed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which in 1964 had Oompa Loompas who were African Pygmies. From the 1973 edition forward, they are now white and from Loompa Land. It's still Africa, but it's not named as such. They are still an entire race of people who are glad to be shipped in crates to a factory where they live and work, and are paid literally in beans. It doesn't actually erase the slavery colonialist narrative of the book. It makes it less obvious, given that they&rsquore no longer Black, but it doesn't change the fundamental assumptions of the book. In situations like this, the edits usually don&rsquot work. The offensive bits are coded into the structure of the story.

ESQ: You touched on Seuss altering a character in his first book. Were there other occasions of him being called to respond to criticism during his lifetime?

PN: There were, and he was hugely resistant to it. There was one change that he made willingly it was to The Lorax. There was a couplet about Lake Erie in there. It was &ldquosomeplace that isn't so smeary,&rdquo I think, and then a line like, &ldquoThings are pretty bad enough at Lake Erie.&rdquo The people who cleaned up Lake Erie contacted him and said, "Hey, could you take this line out?" He did it willingly.

The change to And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was something he did begrudgingly. Critiques of gender in his works&mdashhe dismissed those out of hand. In Mulberry Street, there&rsquos the line, "Say, even Jane could think of that.&rdquo Why does it have to be a girl who has the inferior imagination? He just mocked that criticism.


A Dr. Seuss Expert Cuts Through the Noise on the Cancel Culture Controversy

On March 2, the nation&rsquos annual Read Across America Day (a holiday once synonymous with Dr. Seuss, designated on this date to honor his birthday), Dr. Seuss Enterprises released an unexpected statement. The venerable author&rsquos estate announced that it has decided to end publication and licensure of six books by Theodor Seuss Geisel, including his first book under his celebrated pen name, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (published in 1937), and If I Ran the Zoo (published in 1950). &ldquoThese books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,&rdquo the statement read, alluding to their appalling racial and ethnic stereotypes.

The estate&rsquos decision prompted days of relentless cable news coverage from Fox News, as well as cries about &ldquocancel culture&rdquo from prominent conservatives, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who accused Democrats of &ldquooutlawing Dr. Seuss&rdquo on the House floor. Sales of Seuss&rsquo most-beloved books skyrocketed amid the discourse, topping Amazon and Barnes and Noble&rsquos online bestseller charts throughout the week. Meanwhile, copies of the now-discounted books soared in price, with resellers listing those titles for up to $500 on eBay.

Dr. Philip Nel, a distinguished professor of children&rsquos literature at Kansas State University and the author of Was The Cat in the Hat Black?, tells Esquire that this conversation about racism and prejudice in Seuss&rsquo books has been underway for decades. Even during the author&rsquos lifetime, Nel reports, Seuss was roundly criticized for racial and gender stereotypes in his books, yet he was also the author of actively anti-racist narratives, like Horton Hears a Who and The Sneetches. Nel spoke with Esquire by phone to explain how we should understand this ongoing conversation about updating and curating Seuss' legacy, as well as how we should talk to children about books that contain racist content.

Esquire: Could you share a few examples of the racist words and racist imagery found in these discontinued books?

Philip Nel: The most egregious ones come in If I Ran the Zoo, from 1950, which includes a page featuring the mountains of Zomba-ma-Tant, with helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant. In this book, Gerald McGrew was collecting animals from around the world for his zoo. These are caricatures of Asian people who are helping him gather the animals. The same book has the African island of Yerka, where Gerald McGrew will bring up a tizzle-topped-tufted Mazurka, an imaginary Seuss bird. It&rsquos being carried by two caricatures of African men who, in addition to the usual racist caricature, also have tufts on their heads, which accentuate their resemblance to the bird. If you miss the animality and the caricature itself, Seuss has got a little extra touch to tie them to the bird.

One of the themes across Seuss&rsquo work is the use of exotic, national, racial, and ethnic others as sources of humor. I don't think he meant that with malice, but to use someone's nationality or race as a punchline doesn't land well, especially if you are a person of that nationality or race. I don't think he thought about how that might be hurtful to the people who identify themselves in that way. I think it's important for people to understand that a lot of Seuss' racism here is operating unconsciously. It's something he learned from being steeped in a very racist American culture, which remains true of American culture today, although in different ways.

In And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, published in 1937, we see a man who eats with sticks he is colored yellow. He has a triangular, conical hat, a long pig tail, and of course, slanted eyes. In 1978, in response to criticism, Seuss revised that drawing. He removed the color yellow and took off the pig tail. It&rsquos still a stereotype&mdashjust a less egregious one. In describing that change, he would say things like, "I removed the color and the pigtail. Now he looks like an Irishman," which is supposed to be a joke, but it also diminishes the importance of that change, and the seriousness of making the change. The basic themes of caricature across these six books are people of African descent, Asian descent, Middle Eastern descent, and Indigenous people.

ESQ: How do the events of this week fit into the context of the broader conversation about Dr. Seuss's work and legacy? Is this the first time that Dr. Seuss Enterprises has taken such an active hand in updating the author&rsquos body of work and rejecting some of his views?

PN: Yes, it is. They have certainly let works go out of print and come back into print before. They have re-published Seuss books under a different pseudonym. He also used the pseudonym Theo LeSieg, for example. His real name was Theodore Seuss Geisel LeSieg is Geisel backwards. He wrote 13 books under that name, so they've published those under Dr. Seuss, the more famous name. But they have never, until now, done what is essentially a product recall, where they&rsquove said, "We're not going to publish these six books anymore. We're essentially taking responsibility for the culture we put out into the world. Profiting off of books with racist imagery is not something we want to do."

I don't know if there's a profound ethical revelation they've had, where they've suddenly realized, "We need to be committed to social justice." I don't know if it's a brand issue. Maybe they realized racism is bad for the brand, and so to sustain the brand, they need to address it. Whatever the motivations are, it's a good decision, but it is the first. It's the first where they'rethoma essentially saying that the product is defective, and they&rsquore not going to manufacture it anymore.

ESQ: Does this decision have precedent with other authors of children&rsquos literature? I&rsquom reminded of when the estate of Hergé pulled books like Tintin in the Congo.

PN: It absolutely has precedent. Dr. Dolittle, for example. You can get a bowdlerized edition of it, which is to say, an edition that's been cleaned up. That term comes from Thomas Bowdler, who produced issues of Shakespeare that were suitable for the family. He cleaned up Shakespeare&rsquos language, so the term to &ldquobowdlerize&rdquo is to clean up a work by removing the "offensive bits."

It&rsquos a solution with problems, but it&rsquos been a strategy that people have taken, both the estates of authors and authors themselves. Roald Dahl changed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which in 1964 had Oompa Loompas who were African Pygmies. From the 1973 edition forward, they are now white and from Loompa Land. It's still Africa, but it's not named as such. They are still an entire race of people who are glad to be shipped in crates to a factory where they live and work, and are paid literally in beans. It doesn't actually erase the slavery colonialist narrative of the book. It makes it less obvious, given that they&rsquore no longer Black, but it doesn't change the fundamental assumptions of the book. In situations like this, the edits usually don&rsquot work. The offensive bits are coded into the structure of the story.

ESQ: You touched on Seuss altering a character in his first book. Were there other occasions of him being called to respond to criticism during his lifetime?

PN: There were, and he was hugely resistant to it. There was one change that he made willingly it was to The Lorax. There was a couplet about Lake Erie in there. It was &ldquosomeplace that isn't so smeary,&rdquo I think, and then a line like, &ldquoThings are pretty bad enough at Lake Erie.&rdquo The people who cleaned up Lake Erie contacted him and said, "Hey, could you take this line out?" He did it willingly.

The change to And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was something he did begrudgingly. Critiques of gender in his works&mdashhe dismissed those out of hand. In Mulberry Street, there&rsquos the line, "Say, even Jane could think of that.&rdquo Why does it have to be a girl who has the inferior imagination? He just mocked that criticism.


A Dr. Seuss Expert Cuts Through the Noise on the Cancel Culture Controversy

On March 2, the nation&rsquos annual Read Across America Day (a holiday once synonymous with Dr. Seuss, designated on this date to honor his birthday), Dr. Seuss Enterprises released an unexpected statement. The venerable author&rsquos estate announced that it has decided to end publication and licensure of six books by Theodor Seuss Geisel, including his first book under his celebrated pen name, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (published in 1937), and If I Ran the Zoo (published in 1950). &ldquoThese books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,&rdquo the statement read, alluding to their appalling racial and ethnic stereotypes.

The estate&rsquos decision prompted days of relentless cable news coverage from Fox News, as well as cries about &ldquocancel culture&rdquo from prominent conservatives, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who accused Democrats of &ldquooutlawing Dr. Seuss&rdquo on the House floor. Sales of Seuss&rsquo most-beloved books skyrocketed amid the discourse, topping Amazon and Barnes and Noble&rsquos online bestseller charts throughout the week. Meanwhile, copies of the now-discounted books soared in price, with resellers listing those titles for up to $500 on eBay.

Dr. Philip Nel, a distinguished professor of children&rsquos literature at Kansas State University and the author of Was The Cat in the Hat Black?, tells Esquire that this conversation about racism and prejudice in Seuss&rsquo books has been underway for decades. Even during the author&rsquos lifetime, Nel reports, Seuss was roundly criticized for racial and gender stereotypes in his books, yet he was also the author of actively anti-racist narratives, like Horton Hears a Who and The Sneetches. Nel spoke with Esquire by phone to explain how we should understand this ongoing conversation about updating and curating Seuss' legacy, as well as how we should talk to children about books that contain racist content.

Esquire: Could you share a few examples of the racist words and racist imagery found in these discontinued books?

Philip Nel: The most egregious ones come in If I Ran the Zoo, from 1950, which includes a page featuring the mountains of Zomba-ma-Tant, with helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant. In this book, Gerald McGrew was collecting animals from around the world for his zoo. These are caricatures of Asian people who are helping him gather the animals. The same book has the African island of Yerka, where Gerald McGrew will bring up a tizzle-topped-tufted Mazurka, an imaginary Seuss bird. It&rsquos being carried by two caricatures of African men who, in addition to the usual racist caricature, also have tufts on their heads, which accentuate their resemblance to the bird. If you miss the animality and the caricature itself, Seuss has got a little extra touch to tie them to the bird.

One of the themes across Seuss&rsquo work is the use of exotic, national, racial, and ethnic others as sources of humor. I don't think he meant that with malice, but to use someone's nationality or race as a punchline doesn't land well, especially if you are a person of that nationality or race. I don't think he thought about how that might be hurtful to the people who identify themselves in that way. I think it's important for people to understand that a lot of Seuss' racism here is operating unconsciously. It's something he learned from being steeped in a very racist American culture, which remains true of American culture today, although in different ways.

In And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, published in 1937, we see a man who eats with sticks he is colored yellow. He has a triangular, conical hat, a long pig tail, and of course, slanted eyes. In 1978, in response to criticism, Seuss revised that drawing. He removed the color yellow and took off the pig tail. It&rsquos still a stereotype&mdashjust a less egregious one. In describing that change, he would say things like, "I removed the color and the pigtail. Now he looks like an Irishman," which is supposed to be a joke, but it also diminishes the importance of that change, and the seriousness of making the change. The basic themes of caricature across these six books are people of African descent, Asian descent, Middle Eastern descent, and Indigenous people.

ESQ: How do the events of this week fit into the context of the broader conversation about Dr. Seuss's work and legacy? Is this the first time that Dr. Seuss Enterprises has taken such an active hand in updating the author&rsquos body of work and rejecting some of his views?

PN: Yes, it is. They have certainly let works go out of print and come back into print before. They have re-published Seuss books under a different pseudonym. He also used the pseudonym Theo LeSieg, for example. His real name was Theodore Seuss Geisel LeSieg is Geisel backwards. He wrote 13 books under that name, so they've published those under Dr. Seuss, the more famous name. But they have never, until now, done what is essentially a product recall, where they&rsquove said, "We're not going to publish these six books anymore. We're essentially taking responsibility for the culture we put out into the world. Profiting off of books with racist imagery is not something we want to do."

I don't know if there's a profound ethical revelation they've had, where they've suddenly realized, "We need to be committed to social justice." I don't know if it's a brand issue. Maybe they realized racism is bad for the brand, and so to sustain the brand, they need to address it. Whatever the motivations are, it's a good decision, but it is the first. It's the first where they'rethoma essentially saying that the product is defective, and they&rsquore not going to manufacture it anymore.

ESQ: Does this decision have precedent with other authors of children&rsquos literature? I&rsquom reminded of when the estate of Hergé pulled books like Tintin in the Congo.

PN: It absolutely has precedent. Dr. Dolittle, for example. You can get a bowdlerized edition of it, which is to say, an edition that's been cleaned up. That term comes from Thomas Bowdler, who produced issues of Shakespeare that were suitable for the family. He cleaned up Shakespeare&rsquos language, so the term to &ldquobowdlerize&rdquo is to clean up a work by removing the "offensive bits."

It&rsquos a solution with problems, but it&rsquos been a strategy that people have taken, both the estates of authors and authors themselves. Roald Dahl changed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which in 1964 had Oompa Loompas who were African Pygmies. From the 1973 edition forward, they are now white and from Loompa Land. It's still Africa, but it's not named as such. They are still an entire race of people who are glad to be shipped in crates to a factory where they live and work, and are paid literally in beans. It doesn't actually erase the slavery colonialist narrative of the book. It makes it less obvious, given that they&rsquore no longer Black, but it doesn't change the fundamental assumptions of the book. In situations like this, the edits usually don&rsquot work. The offensive bits are coded into the structure of the story.

ESQ: You touched on Seuss altering a character in his first book. Were there other occasions of him being called to respond to criticism during his lifetime?

PN: There were, and he was hugely resistant to it. There was one change that he made willingly it was to The Lorax. There was a couplet about Lake Erie in there. It was &ldquosomeplace that isn't so smeary,&rdquo I think, and then a line like, &ldquoThings are pretty bad enough at Lake Erie.&rdquo The people who cleaned up Lake Erie contacted him and said, "Hey, could you take this line out?" He did it willingly.

The change to And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was something he did begrudgingly. Critiques of gender in his works&mdashhe dismissed those out of hand. In Mulberry Street, there&rsquos the line, "Say, even Jane could think of that.&rdquo Why does it have to be a girl who has the inferior imagination? He just mocked that criticism.


A Dr. Seuss Expert Cuts Through the Noise on the Cancel Culture Controversy

On March 2, the nation&rsquos annual Read Across America Day (a holiday once synonymous with Dr. Seuss, designated on this date to honor his birthday), Dr. Seuss Enterprises released an unexpected statement. The venerable author&rsquos estate announced that it has decided to end publication and licensure of six books by Theodor Seuss Geisel, including his first book under his celebrated pen name, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (published in 1937), and If I Ran the Zoo (published in 1950). &ldquoThese books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,&rdquo the statement read, alluding to their appalling racial and ethnic stereotypes.

The estate&rsquos decision prompted days of relentless cable news coverage from Fox News, as well as cries about &ldquocancel culture&rdquo from prominent conservatives, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who accused Democrats of &ldquooutlawing Dr. Seuss&rdquo on the House floor. Sales of Seuss&rsquo most-beloved books skyrocketed amid the discourse, topping Amazon and Barnes and Noble&rsquos online bestseller charts throughout the week. Meanwhile, copies of the now-discounted books soared in price, with resellers listing those titles for up to $500 on eBay.

Dr. Philip Nel, a distinguished professor of children&rsquos literature at Kansas State University and the author of Was The Cat in the Hat Black?, tells Esquire that this conversation about racism and prejudice in Seuss&rsquo books has been underway for decades. Even during the author&rsquos lifetime, Nel reports, Seuss was roundly criticized for racial and gender stereotypes in his books, yet he was also the author of actively anti-racist narratives, like Horton Hears a Who and The Sneetches. Nel spoke with Esquire by phone to explain how we should understand this ongoing conversation about updating and curating Seuss' legacy, as well as how we should talk to children about books that contain racist content.

Esquire: Could you share a few examples of the racist words and racist imagery found in these discontinued books?

Philip Nel: The most egregious ones come in If I Ran the Zoo, from 1950, which includes a page featuring the mountains of Zomba-ma-Tant, with helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant. In this book, Gerald McGrew was collecting animals from around the world for his zoo. These are caricatures of Asian people who are helping him gather the animals. The same book has the African island of Yerka, where Gerald McGrew will bring up a tizzle-topped-tufted Mazurka, an imaginary Seuss bird. It&rsquos being carried by two caricatures of African men who, in addition to the usual racist caricature, also have tufts on their heads, which accentuate their resemblance to the bird. If you miss the animality and the caricature itself, Seuss has got a little extra touch to tie them to the bird.

One of the themes across Seuss&rsquo work is the use of exotic, national, racial, and ethnic others as sources of humor. I don't think he meant that with malice, but to use someone's nationality or race as a punchline doesn't land well, especially if you are a person of that nationality or race. I don't think he thought about how that might be hurtful to the people who identify themselves in that way. I think it's important for people to understand that a lot of Seuss' racism here is operating unconsciously. It's something he learned from being steeped in a very racist American culture, which remains true of American culture today, although in different ways.

In And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, published in 1937, we see a man who eats with sticks he is colored yellow. He has a triangular, conical hat, a long pig tail, and of course, slanted eyes. In 1978, in response to criticism, Seuss revised that drawing. He removed the color yellow and took off the pig tail. It&rsquos still a stereotype&mdashjust a less egregious one. In describing that change, he would say things like, "I removed the color and the pigtail. Now he looks like an Irishman," which is supposed to be a joke, but it also diminishes the importance of that change, and the seriousness of making the change. The basic themes of caricature across these six books are people of African descent, Asian descent, Middle Eastern descent, and Indigenous people.

ESQ: How do the events of this week fit into the context of the broader conversation about Dr. Seuss's work and legacy? Is this the first time that Dr. Seuss Enterprises has taken such an active hand in updating the author&rsquos body of work and rejecting some of his views?

PN: Yes, it is. They have certainly let works go out of print and come back into print before. They have re-published Seuss books under a different pseudonym. He also used the pseudonym Theo LeSieg, for example. His real name was Theodore Seuss Geisel LeSieg is Geisel backwards. He wrote 13 books under that name, so they've published those under Dr. Seuss, the more famous name. But they have never, until now, done what is essentially a product recall, where they&rsquove said, "We're not going to publish these six books anymore. We're essentially taking responsibility for the culture we put out into the world. Profiting off of books with racist imagery is not something we want to do."

I don't know if there's a profound ethical revelation they've had, where they've suddenly realized, "We need to be committed to social justice." I don't know if it's a brand issue. Maybe they realized racism is bad for the brand, and so to sustain the brand, they need to address it. Whatever the motivations are, it's a good decision, but it is the first. It's the first where they'rethoma essentially saying that the product is defective, and they&rsquore not going to manufacture it anymore.

ESQ: Does this decision have precedent with other authors of children&rsquos literature? I&rsquom reminded of when the estate of Hergé pulled books like Tintin in the Congo.

PN: It absolutely has precedent. Dr. Dolittle, for example. You can get a bowdlerized edition of it, which is to say, an edition that's been cleaned up. That term comes from Thomas Bowdler, who produced issues of Shakespeare that were suitable for the family. He cleaned up Shakespeare&rsquos language, so the term to &ldquobowdlerize&rdquo is to clean up a work by removing the "offensive bits."

It&rsquos a solution with problems, but it&rsquos been a strategy that people have taken, both the estates of authors and authors themselves. Roald Dahl changed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which in 1964 had Oompa Loompas who were African Pygmies. From the 1973 edition forward, they are now white and from Loompa Land. It's still Africa, but it's not named as such. They are still an entire race of people who are glad to be shipped in crates to a factory where they live and work, and are paid literally in beans. It doesn't actually erase the slavery colonialist narrative of the book. It makes it less obvious, given that they&rsquore no longer Black, but it doesn't change the fundamental assumptions of the book. In situations like this, the edits usually don&rsquot work. The offensive bits are coded into the structure of the story.

ESQ: You touched on Seuss altering a character in his first book. Were there other occasions of him being called to respond to criticism during his lifetime?

PN: There were, and he was hugely resistant to it. There was one change that he made willingly it was to The Lorax. There was a couplet about Lake Erie in there. It was &ldquosomeplace that isn't so smeary,&rdquo I think, and then a line like, &ldquoThings are pretty bad enough at Lake Erie.&rdquo The people who cleaned up Lake Erie contacted him and said, "Hey, could you take this line out?" He did it willingly.

The change to And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was something he did begrudgingly. Critiques of gender in his works&mdashhe dismissed those out of hand. In Mulberry Street, there&rsquos the line, "Say, even Jane could think of that.&rdquo Why does it have to be a girl who has the inferior imagination? He just mocked that criticism.


A Dr. Seuss Expert Cuts Through the Noise on the Cancel Culture Controversy

On March 2, the nation&rsquos annual Read Across America Day (a holiday once synonymous with Dr. Seuss, designated on this date to honor his birthday), Dr. Seuss Enterprises released an unexpected statement. The venerable author&rsquos estate announced that it has decided to end publication and licensure of six books by Theodor Seuss Geisel, including his first book under his celebrated pen name, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (published in 1937), and If I Ran the Zoo (published in 1950). &ldquoThese books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,&rdquo the statement read, alluding to their appalling racial and ethnic stereotypes.

The estate&rsquos decision prompted days of relentless cable news coverage from Fox News, as well as cries about &ldquocancel culture&rdquo from prominent conservatives, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who accused Democrats of &ldquooutlawing Dr. Seuss&rdquo on the House floor. Sales of Seuss&rsquo most-beloved books skyrocketed amid the discourse, topping Amazon and Barnes and Noble&rsquos online bestseller charts throughout the week. Meanwhile, copies of the now-discounted books soared in price, with resellers listing those titles for up to $500 on eBay.

Dr. Philip Nel, a distinguished professor of children&rsquos literature at Kansas State University and the author of Was The Cat in the Hat Black?, tells Esquire that this conversation about racism and prejudice in Seuss&rsquo books has been underway for decades. Even during the author&rsquos lifetime, Nel reports, Seuss was roundly criticized for racial and gender stereotypes in his books, yet he was also the author of actively anti-racist narratives, like Horton Hears a Who and The Sneetches. Nel spoke with Esquire by phone to explain how we should understand this ongoing conversation about updating and curating Seuss' legacy, as well as how we should talk to children about books that contain racist content.

Esquire: Could you share a few examples of the racist words and racist imagery found in these discontinued books?

Philip Nel: The most egregious ones come in If I Ran the Zoo, from 1950, which includes a page featuring the mountains of Zomba-ma-Tant, with helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant. In this book, Gerald McGrew was collecting animals from around the world for his zoo. These are caricatures of Asian people who are helping him gather the animals. The same book has the African island of Yerka, where Gerald McGrew will bring up a tizzle-topped-tufted Mazurka, an imaginary Seuss bird. It&rsquos being carried by two caricatures of African men who, in addition to the usual racist caricature, also have tufts on their heads, which accentuate their resemblance to the bird. If you miss the animality and the caricature itself, Seuss has got a little extra touch to tie them to the bird.

One of the themes across Seuss&rsquo work is the use of exotic, national, racial, and ethnic others as sources of humor. I don't think he meant that with malice, but to use someone's nationality or race as a punchline doesn't land well, especially if you are a person of that nationality or race. I don't think he thought about how that might be hurtful to the people who identify themselves in that way. I think it's important for people to understand that a lot of Seuss' racism here is operating unconsciously. It's something he learned from being steeped in a very racist American culture, which remains true of American culture today, although in different ways.

In And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, published in 1937, we see a man who eats with sticks he is colored yellow. He has a triangular, conical hat, a long pig tail, and of course, slanted eyes. In 1978, in response to criticism, Seuss revised that drawing. He removed the color yellow and took off the pig tail. It&rsquos still a stereotype&mdashjust a less egregious one. In describing that change, he would say things like, "I removed the color and the pigtail. Now he looks like an Irishman," which is supposed to be a joke, but it also diminishes the importance of that change, and the seriousness of making the change. The basic themes of caricature across these six books are people of African descent, Asian descent, Middle Eastern descent, and Indigenous people.

ESQ: How do the events of this week fit into the context of the broader conversation about Dr. Seuss's work and legacy? Is this the first time that Dr. Seuss Enterprises has taken such an active hand in updating the author&rsquos body of work and rejecting some of his views?

PN: Yes, it is. They have certainly let works go out of print and come back into print before. They have re-published Seuss books under a different pseudonym. He also used the pseudonym Theo LeSieg, for example. His real name was Theodore Seuss Geisel LeSieg is Geisel backwards. He wrote 13 books under that name, so they've published those under Dr. Seuss, the more famous name. But they have never, until now, done what is essentially a product recall, where they&rsquove said, "We're not going to publish these six books anymore. We're essentially taking responsibility for the culture we put out into the world. Profiting off of books with racist imagery is not something we want to do."

I don't know if there's a profound ethical revelation they've had, where they've suddenly realized, "We need to be committed to social justice." I don't know if it's a brand issue. Maybe they realized racism is bad for the brand, and so to sustain the brand, they need to address it. Whatever the motivations are, it's a good decision, but it is the first. It's the first where they'rethoma essentially saying that the product is defective, and they&rsquore not going to manufacture it anymore.

ESQ: Does this decision have precedent with other authors of children&rsquos literature? I&rsquom reminded of when the estate of Hergé pulled books like Tintin in the Congo.

PN: It absolutely has precedent. Dr. Dolittle, for example. You can get a bowdlerized edition of it, which is to say, an edition that's been cleaned up. That term comes from Thomas Bowdler, who produced issues of Shakespeare that were suitable for the family. He cleaned up Shakespeare&rsquos language, so the term to &ldquobowdlerize&rdquo is to clean up a work by removing the "offensive bits."

It&rsquos a solution with problems, but it&rsquos been a strategy that people have taken, both the estates of authors and authors themselves. Roald Dahl changed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which in 1964 had Oompa Loompas who were African Pygmies. From the 1973 edition forward, they are now white and from Loompa Land. It's still Africa, but it's not named as such. They are still an entire race of people who are glad to be shipped in crates to a factory where they live and work, and are paid literally in beans. It doesn't actually erase the slavery colonialist narrative of the book. It makes it less obvious, given that they&rsquore no longer Black, but it doesn't change the fundamental assumptions of the book. In situations like this, the edits usually don&rsquot work. The offensive bits are coded into the structure of the story.

ESQ: You touched on Seuss altering a character in his first book. Were there other occasions of him being called to respond to criticism during his lifetime?

PN: There were, and he was hugely resistant to it. There was one change that he made willingly it was to The Lorax. There was a couplet about Lake Erie in there. It was &ldquosomeplace that isn't so smeary,&rdquo I think, and then a line like, &ldquoThings are pretty bad enough at Lake Erie.&rdquo The people who cleaned up Lake Erie contacted him and said, "Hey, could you take this line out?" He did it willingly.

The change to And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was something he did begrudgingly. Critiques of gender in his works&mdashhe dismissed those out of hand. In Mulberry Street, there&rsquos the line, "Say, even Jane could think of that.&rdquo Why does it have to be a girl who has the inferior imagination? He just mocked that criticism.


A Dr. Seuss Expert Cuts Through the Noise on the Cancel Culture Controversy

On March 2, the nation&rsquos annual Read Across America Day (a holiday once synonymous with Dr. Seuss, designated on this date to honor his birthday), Dr. Seuss Enterprises released an unexpected statement. The venerable author&rsquos estate announced that it has decided to end publication and licensure of six books by Theodor Seuss Geisel, including his first book under his celebrated pen name, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (published in 1937), and If I Ran the Zoo (published in 1950). &ldquoThese books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,&rdquo the statement read, alluding to their appalling racial and ethnic stereotypes.

The estate&rsquos decision prompted days of relentless cable news coverage from Fox News, as well as cries about &ldquocancel culture&rdquo from prominent conservatives, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who accused Democrats of &ldquooutlawing Dr. Seuss&rdquo on the House floor. Sales of Seuss&rsquo most-beloved books skyrocketed amid the discourse, topping Amazon and Barnes and Noble&rsquos online bestseller charts throughout the week. Meanwhile, copies of the now-discounted books soared in price, with resellers listing those titles for up to $500 on eBay.

Dr. Philip Nel, a distinguished professor of children&rsquos literature at Kansas State University and the author of Was The Cat in the Hat Black?, tells Esquire that this conversation about racism and prejudice in Seuss&rsquo books has been underway for decades. Even during the author&rsquos lifetime, Nel reports, Seuss was roundly criticized for racial and gender stereotypes in his books, yet he was also the author of actively anti-racist narratives, like Horton Hears a Who and The Sneetches. Nel spoke with Esquire by phone to explain how we should understand this ongoing conversation about updating and curating Seuss' legacy, as well as how we should talk to children about books that contain racist content.

Esquire: Could you share a few examples of the racist words and racist imagery found in these discontinued books?

Philip Nel: The most egregious ones come in If I Ran the Zoo, from 1950, which includes a page featuring the mountains of Zomba-ma-Tant, with helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant. In this book, Gerald McGrew was collecting animals from around the world for his zoo. These are caricatures of Asian people who are helping him gather the animals. The same book has the African island of Yerka, where Gerald McGrew will bring up a tizzle-topped-tufted Mazurka, an imaginary Seuss bird. It&rsquos being carried by two caricatures of African men who, in addition to the usual racist caricature, also have tufts on their heads, which accentuate their resemblance to the bird. If you miss the animality and the caricature itself, Seuss has got a little extra touch to tie them to the bird.

One of the themes across Seuss&rsquo work is the use of exotic, national, racial, and ethnic others as sources of humor. I don't think he meant that with malice, but to use someone's nationality or race as a punchline doesn't land well, especially if you are a person of that nationality or race. I don't think he thought about how that might be hurtful to the people who identify themselves in that way. I think it's important for people to understand that a lot of Seuss' racism here is operating unconsciously. It's something he learned from being steeped in a very racist American culture, which remains true of American culture today, although in different ways.

In And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, published in 1937, we see a man who eats with sticks he is colored yellow. He has a triangular, conical hat, a long pig tail, and of course, slanted eyes. In 1978, in response to criticism, Seuss revised that drawing. He removed the color yellow and took off the pig tail. It&rsquos still a stereotype&mdashjust a less egregious one. In describing that change, he would say things like, "I removed the color and the pigtail. Now he looks like an Irishman," which is supposed to be a joke, but it also diminishes the importance of that change, and the seriousness of making the change. The basic themes of caricature across these six books are people of African descent, Asian descent, Middle Eastern descent, and Indigenous people.

ESQ: How do the events of this week fit into the context of the broader conversation about Dr. Seuss's work and legacy? Is this the first time that Dr. Seuss Enterprises has taken such an active hand in updating the author&rsquos body of work and rejecting some of his views?

PN: Yes, it is. They have certainly let works go out of print and come back into print before. They have re-published Seuss books under a different pseudonym. He also used the pseudonym Theo LeSieg, for example. His real name was Theodore Seuss Geisel LeSieg is Geisel backwards. He wrote 13 books under that name, so they've published those under Dr. Seuss, the more famous name. But they have never, until now, done what is essentially a product recall, where they&rsquove said, "We're not going to publish these six books anymore. We're essentially taking responsibility for the culture we put out into the world. Profiting off of books with racist imagery is not something we want to do."

I don't know if there's a profound ethical revelation they've had, where they've suddenly realized, "We need to be committed to social justice." I don't know if it's a brand issue. Maybe they realized racism is bad for the brand, and so to sustain the brand, they need to address it. Whatever the motivations are, it's a good decision, but it is the first. It's the first where they'rethoma essentially saying that the product is defective, and they&rsquore not going to manufacture it anymore.

ESQ: Does this decision have precedent with other authors of children&rsquos literature? I&rsquom reminded of when the estate of Hergé pulled books like Tintin in the Congo.

PN: It absolutely has precedent. Dr. Dolittle, for example. You can get a bowdlerized edition of it, which is to say, an edition that's been cleaned up. That term comes from Thomas Bowdler, who produced issues of Shakespeare that were suitable for the family. He cleaned up Shakespeare&rsquos language, so the term to &ldquobowdlerize&rdquo is to clean up a work by removing the "offensive bits."

It&rsquos a solution with problems, but it&rsquos been a strategy that people have taken, both the estates of authors and authors themselves. Roald Dahl changed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which in 1964 had Oompa Loompas who were African Pygmies. From the 1973 edition forward, they are now white and from Loompa Land. It's still Africa, but it's not named as such. They are still an entire race of people who are glad to be shipped in crates to a factory where they live and work, and are paid literally in beans. It doesn't actually erase the slavery colonialist narrative of the book. It makes it less obvious, given that they&rsquore no longer Black, but it doesn't change the fundamental assumptions of the book. In situations like this, the edits usually don&rsquot work. The offensive bits are coded into the structure of the story.

ESQ: You touched on Seuss altering a character in his first book. Were there other occasions of him being called to respond to criticism during his lifetime?

PN: There were, and he was hugely resistant to it. There was one change that he made willingly it was to The Lorax. There was a couplet about Lake Erie in there. It was &ldquosomeplace that isn't so smeary,&rdquo I think, and then a line like, &ldquoThings are pretty bad enough at Lake Erie.&rdquo The people who cleaned up Lake Erie contacted him and said, "Hey, could you take this line out?" He did it willingly.

The change to And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was something he did begrudgingly. Critiques of gender in his works&mdashhe dismissed those out of hand. In Mulberry Street, there&rsquos the line, "Say, even Jane could think of that.&rdquo Why does it have to be a girl who has the inferior imagination? He just mocked that criticism.


Watch the video: ОБЗОР BLACK BOOK НОВИНКА 2021 ЧЕРНАЯ КНИГА (November 2022).