And Theodor Geisel as Dr. Seuss

sturm und drang

Seuss books
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

In this blog, Dr. Seuss has been mentioned numerous times, often on March 2, his birthday. I love the work of Theodor Geisel, especially Bartholemew and the Oobleck. It involves speaking truth to power. And oobleck is green. Though I found  The Lorax movie only so-so, I don’t fault the source material.

I’ve learned new words, such as gox, which my spellcheck doesn’t seem to like. REM confounded me with their reference to him. But Ted hasn’t said all of the trite things that have been attributed to him.

Back in 2009, I noted him as one of 20 men I admired. So this made-up “controversy” over the voluntary cessation of future publication of a few books hurts my heart. It’s because I think Dr. Seuss, were he still alive, might very well agree with the action.

As Ty Burr said in the Boston Globe, “You can still get a hold of the six early titles that Seuss Enterprises has chosen to cease publishing anytime you want to. They’re in libraries and used bookstores; they’re on eBay and Alibris and Amazon. No one’s destroying any copies; they’re just not printing any new ones.”

Recognizing changing attitudes

More to the point: “It’s likely the good Dr… would be down with that. Before his death in 1991, he expressed regret to biographers over the virulently anti-Japanese political cartoons he had drawn during World War II; a great-nephew told the New York Times in 2017 that ‘later in his life, he was not proud of those at all.'”

And have the folks screaming “cancel culture” even perused these books? I read If I Ran the Zoo as a child. And I found the stereotypes of “potbellied, thick-lipped blacks from Africa, squinty-eyed” Asians unsettling.

But I didn’t read And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street until I was an adult. The yellow-colored “Chinaman”, later recolored and relabeled “Chinese man,” bothered me greatly. I noted that things were different in 1937.

The sturm und drang of the false narrative exhausts me. The “thinking” is that “liberals” are inflicting the cancel culture. But folks such as Barack Obama and Kamala Harris had praised Seuss in public settings. Therefore liberals are also disingenuous hypocrites. QED. Oy.

Some folks seem to relish the fact that Dr. Seuss is now dominating the Amazon best-seller list. At this writing, 11 of the top 12. But, oddly, NONE of the six books being pulled is even on the Top 100.

See also what Jaquandor and  Chuck Miller wrote. Daily Kos quotes Ben Carson.  The Weekly Sift takes on the Silly Season in the Culture Wars.

Other Geisel stories

Final JEOPARDY! -aired 2021-02-02 WRITERS FOR CHILDREN: The Dartmouth Alumni Magazine gave “rejoice” as a rhyme for the correct pronunciation of his name. Seuss is the middle name of Theodor Geisel.

Check out the WWII-era Private Snafu.

In 2008, for the Albany Public Library blog, I noted Green Eggs and Ham had won a library award. I add some YouTube videos, But I passed on the famous Jesse Jackson reading of GREEN Eggs and Ham from Saturday Night Live, because of the series of racist remarks in the Comments section.

I’d love to see The Seven Lady Godivas (1939), Dr. Seuss’s Little-Known “Adult” Book of Nudes. But I don’t want to spend $250 to do so.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

— Dr. Seuss, “The Lorax