Modernising and moralising: Hachette’s mass-market fiction series for children, ss
For example, a report from said of a manuscript that was rejected: From the early s, Mirman and his team began to conceptualise the content in terms of sub-series, by author or character, within the large and growing lists of the Rose and the Verte. Series literature is distinguished by the repetitive nature of the stories, in which the same characters reappear, and never grow old. The plots follow similar lines, and while from one book to another there may be a small amount of progression, they do not need to be read in a particular order Mirman commissioned French authors to produce French series along the Blyton and Stratemeyer formulae, which were virtually all variants on the child detective story.
The most popular of these home-grown series included: In , the Rose and the Verte contained seventeen sub-series, with 74 titles between them. This number had tripled by , with titles. Still, as many critics pointed out, while the titles and authors were recognisable, the content within was often drastically changed. Here again the process was conceptualised with reference to popular culture, summed up in typical laconic style by Maurice Fleurent, in a memo to Louis Mirman regarding a edition of an old favourite: These new forms of culture had conditioned young readers to expect easy emotions and suspense; books had to be immediately gratifying and easy to consume The emphasis was therefore on pace and length.
Considerations of cost meant long complex texts had to be drastically shortened. Dialogues were removed, repetitions dispensed with, and, where it was possible, the lengthy dissertations on biology, botany, geography and other useful areas of knowledge were cut The Poche used bright, bold single image covers to attract the consumer.
The Rose and the Verte had been using a similar technique from the interwar period, but they now placed greater emphasis on using more modern illustrations and cover images to appeal to the young. Contemporary-looking settings and fashionable clothes appeared. The English author P. Her choice of wording also alluded to the populist approach of the Poche, considered by many critics to be tacky and overly commercial Furthermore, she added, the depiction of Mrs Banks as a trendy young woman in a mini-skirt was far removed from the delicate and charming lady of the book It is clear that the editors saw the two series as now fitting into popular culture more generally.
In the drive to make books a mass consumer item, the new readers needed objects they could consume in familiar ways. To carry out this work, Mirman appointed women often secretaries from the department, as well as authors and translators whom he hoped as mothers, rather than teachers, would be pragmatic when it came to selecting material. For Schiray, readers who disagreed with the popular culture influence were working for the wrong press.
As highlighted in the introduction, notions of the appropriateness of material for children are historically contingent on, and usually determined by, a combination of internal and external pressures on the publishing house, be they commercial, political, cultural or legal. It analyses the new complex set of editorial interventions this process generated. While the post-war editor was no longer a genius who shaped tastes, as Fleurent saw it, they might well be called upon to be much more active in the name of child protection.
These years also witnessed heightened tensions surrounding the social and humanitarian responsibilities of literature They also led to the law regulating publications for children, which banned the depiction of crime, debauchery and violence that might demoralise young readers The fear that depictions of crime in comics conditioned children to see it as acceptable was common to morality campaigns across the globe However, unlike the American Comics Code, or the laws enacted in Canada and the UK, the wording of the French law covered far more than comics; it extended to all publications for children.
Article three of the law stipulated that publications in France aimed at children would be regulated by a surveillance commission, to whom publishers had to submit five copies of all material after publication. The aim was to create a culture of self-censorship. It also meant that Catholic and Communist morality leagues played a crucial role in the regulation of the industry, as their representatives proved to be the most active members of this commission. And this is for a very simple reason: You must modify your text: Each book was passed through many different hands before publication, as Mirman explained to the journal Enfance in A team of quite exceptional correctors scrutinises the texts, analyses them for their overall coherence, and so forth.
There is even a weekly meeting, under the direction of the most experienced members, which examines grammatical questions, recurring mistakes, etc. These were then listed on the back of the report This was well received. How were these new norms for the series enacted and understood by those whose task it was to act as censor? She noted it was very common to cut passages and rewrite them Were they aware of the legislation regulating the trade? Schiray stated that she had never heard of the law, but she had been very concerned by the Catholic leagues.
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The correctors asked her to repair the damage. Crucially, she emphasised that it had been the thought of what the Catholic leagues might say, not the suitability of the material for children that had led her to such extremes While Schiray may not have been aware of the legislation, she was certainly worried about the reactions of its enforcers.
The largest publisher for children at the time certainly took the concerns of the Catholic leagues seriously.
As Jude explained, when you cut a sentence, you then had to replace it with another. She rather enjoyed this part of the process, because it allowed her to be creative.
Although the department bought the rights to Blyton without too much thought, her books subsequently required a significant number of interventions. First, all clues to the origins of the books had to be scrupulously removed. Cornwall was easily transposed to Brittany. The names were Gallicised. Jude recalled taking out scenes of Noddy drinking tea as well as changing the food.
Scrumptious bacon and eggs for breakfast were replaced with bowls of hot coffee and delicious croissants, while the endless sticky buns and cakes became tartes aux pommes. The French translators and correctors transposed her language into a much more formal register, making her sentence structures longer and more complex. Although the new mass-market selection process placed an emphasis on pace and adventure, the educational imperatives of the law era nevertheless took precedence.
This meant she avoided having to translate his pidgin English, whilst retaining the fact his speech was difficult for the children to understand, which was central to the plot Re-editions of other titles published prior to also illustrate this change. All the readers recommended removing direct references to Belgian Congo. As Marc Bauland notes, the adaptation process is an aspect of their work on which editors prefer to remain silent The editors gave interviews to the book trade press, and to publications whose core readership were the intermediaries who advised parents and children about which books to buy.
They explained the extreme prudence they adopted and the protocols they had put in place. Marc Soriano, who worked with Hachette on the Verne project, also published several articles on the adaptation process in literary and educational reviews The department provided extensive details on their procedures, including their report sheets that had to be applied to every manuscript for publication. This expansion touched all aspects: Equally palpable is the sense of frustration at the constraints the new technology, producing for a mass audience and the moral pressures of the Law era placed on their choices.
The editorial team felt their autonomy when choosing texts and shaping tastes had been greatly eroded, but at the same time, they felt they had a much more pronounced role to play in the production process.
Their approach to texts, to working with authors and to treating older classics reveals the extent to which they felt that everything had to change. No text, no image, no package could remain the same. Everything had to conform to the stringent new commercial, moral, and educational imperatives of the post-war era. All subsequent archive references refer to this fonds, unless specified otherwise. Marcus, Minders of make-believe: Jean Mistler, La librairie Hachette, op.
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