verb1 : to expurgate by omitting or modifying parts considered vulgar 2 : to modify by abridging, simplifying, or distorting in style or content
Years later, it was discovered that the publisher had bowdlerized many of the poet‘s letters.
“Being an iconic classic, however, hasn‘t protected Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from being banned, bowdlerized and bleeped. It hasn‘t protected the novel from beingcleaned up, updated and ‘improved.'” — Michiko Kakutani, New YorkTimes, January 6, 2011
Did you know?
Few editors have achieved the notoriety of Thomas Bowdler. He was trained as a physician, but whenillness prevented him from practicingmedicine, he turned to warningEuropeans about unsanitaryconditions at French watering places. Bowdler then carried his quest for purification to literature, and in 1818he published his Family Shakspeare[sic], a work in which he promisedthat “those words and expressionsare omitted which cannot withpropriety be read aloud in a family.” The sanitized volume was popularwith the public of the day, but literarycritics denounced his modifications of the words of the Bard. Bowdlerapplied his literary eraser broadly, and within 11 years of his death in 1825, the word bowdlerize was beingused to refer to expurgating books or other texts.