Thursday News: Mein Kampf, George Lucas, bilingualism, and 100 Years of Solitude
Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ to be republished in Germany – For seventy years, ending today, Bavaria has owned the copyright to Mein Kampf, and has banned its republication in Germany. Next month, Munich’s Institute for Contemporary History will publish an annotated version of the book, with a desire to “thoroughly deconstruct Hitler’s propaganda in a lasting manner and thus to undermine the still effective symbolic power of the book.” The impending republication has, of course, catalyzed much debate over the historical value of the book and the need (or not) to republish. Also this month, a comic book version of the story of Alan Cranston has been published, the first of a series of “educational comics” published by the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studied. In the 1930’s, Cranston was so disgusted by the heavily edited American version of the book that he republished a more complete version so that Americans could see the full horror of Hitler’s racism and violence, and in turn, Hitler sued Cranston for copyright infringement (Hitler won, by the way).
“Mein Kampf” was originally around 600 pages long, and the book sported Hitler’s photo with the title splashed across a red background.
The annotations swell the institute’s version, which is titled “Hitler, mein Kampf” (subtitle: “A critical edition”) to about 2,000 pages. Its cover is a dreary gray in gray with no artwork.
Germany’s justice system has vowed that any republication or distribution of the original book without proper annotation is to remain illegal. – CNN and The New York Times
GEORGE LUCAS RIPS INTO STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS – Not surprisingly, George Lucas is not thrilled with Disney’s handling of the most recent Star Wars installment. His characterization of Disney as “the white slavers” is even more provocative, but there is clearly no love lost between Lucas and Disney:
Lucas continues with mention of how Disney scrapped his storyline for Episodes 7-9, in favor of what some critics deem the most expensive piece of fan-fiction ever created.
“They looked at the stories, and they said, ‘We want to make something for the fans’….They decided they didn’t want to use those stories, they decided they were going to do their own thing….They weren’t that keen to have me involved anyway – but if I get in there, I’m just going to cause trouble, because they’re not going to do what I want them to do. And I don’t have the control to do that anymore, and all I would do is muck everything up. And so I said, ‘Okay, I will go my way, and I’ll let them go their way.’ ” – Cosmic Book News
Debate Rages Over Whether Speaking A Second Language Improves Cognition – A very interesting article on the problems around reproducing the results of those studies that have found a cognitive advantage to bilingualism. Not only are there issues around reproducing the results, but there are also questions around how and what kinds of contexts matter, whether cognition affects the acquisition of language or vice versa, and even a potential publication bias against studies that question the more positive research findings.
Paap and colleagues identified several problems with this body of evidence. When researchers study groups in natural settings outside the laboratory, they can’t control factors that may differ between groups, such as socioeconomics, immigrant status, and cultural differences. Attempts to match these factors among groups or account for them statistically are inevitably imperfect, leaving the possibility that differences in performance are due something other than language skills. An even thornier problem has to do with causality. Does being bilingual influence cognition, or does a person’s cognitive ability affect the probability of acquiring multiple languages? – Scientific American
The Secret History of One Hundred Years of Solitude – A very cool piece on Gabriel García Márquez and One Hundred Years of Solitude, which was published almost 50 years ago. Interviews with García Márquez’s agent, Carmen Balcells, Toni Morrison, and others, as well as a chronicle of his initial New York publishing contract (“shit,” as García Márquez called it), One Hundred Years of Solitude‘s translation into English, and García Márquez’s falling out with Mario Vargas Llosa make for a very engaging read.
“I was sitting in my office at Random House,” says Toni Morrison, then an editor with two of her own novels published, “just turning the pages of One Hundred Years of Solitude. There was something so familiar about the novel, so recognizable to me. It was a certain kind of freedom, a structural freedom, a [different] notion of a beginning, middle, and end. Culturally, I felt intimate with him because he was happy to mix the living and the dead. His characters were on intimate terms with the supernatural world, and that’s the way stories were told in my house.”
Morrison’s father had died, and she had in mind a new novel, whose protagonists would be men—a departure for her. “I had hesitated before writing about those guys. But now, because I had read One Hundred Years of Solitude, I did not hesitate. I got permission from García Márquez”—permission to write Song of Solomon, the first of a run of big, bold novels. (Many years later, Morrison and García Márquez taught a master class together at Princeton. It was 1998—“the year Viagra came out,” Morrison recalls. “I would pick him up in the morning at the hotel where he and Mercedes were staying, and he said, ‘The peell: the peell is not for us men. It is for you, for you women. We do not need it, but we want to please you!’ ”) – Vanity Fair