Woke Publishers Add Trigger Warnings to Ernest Hemingway Classics

trigger warnings hemingway
National Archives and Records Administration, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Reading is the universal equalizer. Suppose you learn how to read and are exposed to many different works of literature.

In that case, you can do and become anything and anyone you want to be, regardless of socio-economic background or any other possible obstacles, both real and imagined. Unfortunately, not only do we have an illiteracy epidemic in this country, but we also have an erosion of classic work appreciation.

Recently one of America’s finest literary geniuses – a man more than one great writer has referred to as the greatest American author – has had his works slapped with disclaimers by publishers.

This move by a major publishing company is sold to the public to allow readers to make informed decisions on what they decide to read and brace them for the feelings said literature may invoke. But the truth is, when you strip this to its bare bones, it’s all just ruining the point of good books.

Give them irony, Give them pity

Penguin Random House has reissued Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises in its original form with the following disclaimer:

“The publisher’s decision to present it as it was originally published is not intended as an endorsement of cultural representations or language contained herein.”

If you have yet to enjoy reading what is widely considered one of Hemingway’s best works, this novel follows the exploits of a group of expatriates in Spain attending a bullfighting fiesta. Intermixed is a tragic love story, an exploration of the sexual revolution of the 1920s, reflections on the wounds inflicted by World War I, and plenty of commentary on what it means to be masculine.

Penguin Random House slapped a similar disclaimer on Hemingway’s short story collection Men Without Women. This isn’t the first time Papa Hemingway has been in the wokesters crosshairs. 

Last year the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland slapped a content warning on The Old Man and the Sea. One of my favorites, this book chronicles the struggle of an old fisherman, Santiago, who catches a massive marlin.

Due to the size of the fish, he has to hold his fishing line for days suffering from physical pain and exertion. Throughout this man versus nature pull and tug, Santiago begins to feel compassion for the marlin, eventually killing it – only to fight off and kill sharks trying to eat the prized catch.

The irony is that the university that flagged the book for violent and disturbing content against…fish…is in a location known for…fishing. 

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Something wicked this way comes

Slapping content warnings, disclaimers, and trigger warnings on classic works of literature is widespread and is part of the destruction of our society. The same university that flagged The Old Man and the Sea hit Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet with similar content descriptions.

Earlier this year, the University of Greenwich warned students that Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey contains depictions of “sexism” and “toxic relationship and friendships.” While I find Ms. Austen’s work mind-numbingly dull, the irony with this action isn’t lost on me.

Northanger Abbey tells of a woman’s introduction to the insane gender roles of the 19th century – sexism and toxic relationships were the story’s point. Aberdeen University issued trigger warnings on J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, letting students know they might find “odd perspectives on gender” that they might find “emotionally challenging.” 

This same university issued the below warnings for Treasure Island and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe:

“The texts on this course include material you may find distressing on issues including racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, colonialism, slavery, violence.”

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But my favorite was the warning Aberdeen slapped on Beowulf:

“Texts studied on this course contain representations of violence, coercion, animal cruelty or animal death, incest, suicide, explicit sexual content…ableism.” 

With this final addition: “there will also be monsters.”

And finally, there is the Queen’s University at Belfast that issued this warning for The Great Bard’s Macbeth:

“You are advised that this play could cause offense as it references and/or deals with issues and depictions relating to bloodshed.”

But why should we care what a bunch of hoity-toity universities do to the classics? Because of who is actually in charge at these institutions of higher learning.


Man is the only real enemy

The students themselves spur the push by universities to issue trigger warnings for books and courses. Encouraged by woke administrators and enabled by Marxist professors, woke, self-important college students are driving this trend of ruining classic works of fiction.

A group of students petitioned Rutgers University in New Jersey to issue a trigger warning for one of my all-time favorite books, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, due to the “variety of scenes referencing gory, abusive and misogynistic violence.” You may sit and think that these poorly dressed, questionably hygienic college students’ actions don’t affect you – you would be wrong.

These same wokesters graduate from these prestigious universities and spread their woke sickness into the industries they find employment in, such as publishing companies, classrooms they teach in, medicine, politics, government, and science. I hate to break it to you, but these future leaders are not just dumbing themselves down and ruining great works of literature. They are on a quest to remake our nation and culture into something we will no longer recognize.

They will inadvertently destroy our country in their quest to make everything cuddly and comfortable for their delicate sensibilities.

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Get triggered

The arguments made by students, administrators, and publishers to issue trigger warnings on Hemingway, Shakespeare, Austen, and Fitzgerald is that they don’t want to inadvertently make someone who has gone through past trauma relive it. They don’t want others to feel distressed while reading and learning.

It sounds pleasant enough, except it is counterintuitive and destroys the point of reading provocative literature. If you warn that you will experience challenging viewpoints, alarming language, and depictions of our lesser parts of human nature, then you destroy the visceral reaction meant to be felt from reading these works.

As biographer, Mary Dearborn said of the warnings slapped on The Old Man and The Sea:

“The world is a violent place and it is counterproductive to pretend otherwise. Much of the violence in the story is rooted in the natural world. It is the law of nature.”

Real life and the real world are filled with discomfort, sadness, violence, and death. You can’t have the good times, joy, hope, and miracle of life without the other side of those coins. 

If you can’t handle fictional works that dive into these concepts, then you can’t handle life. There is no trigger warning when a loved one gets terminally ill, no trigger warning when a child dies, no trigger warning before a war starts, and no trigger warning when life doesn’t go your way.

You are meant to feel something when you read these books; you are meant to be ripped from your comfort zone and forced to learn about yourself and the world around you. 

I leave you with this line from The Old Man and the Sea:

“But man is not made for defeat… A man can be destroyed but not defeated.”

Unless we allow it.

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USAF Retired, Bronze Star recipient, outspoken veteran advocate. Hot mess mom to two monsters and wife to equal parts... More about Kathleen J. Anderson

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