Using Disclaimers Where They Really Count

I just purchased a printing of Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali (with an introduction by W.B. Yeats). It includes the following disclaimer on the title page:

“This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today. Parents might wish to discuss with their children how views on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and interpersonal relations have changed since this book was written before allowing them to read this classic work.”

Wow. Quite a caveat for the reader or monitor for the reader.

Just a couple of things:

First, at no place in this printing does it identify WHEN this book was written, except by coincidence in the Yeats’ introduction, which is dated “September 1912”. The publishing date says (c) 2008 Wilder Publications, and also reads “First Edition”. Really! A 2008 first edition is a product of THIS time. But I know that not to be the case, so what “time” is this book really the product of? And come to think of it, have the views promulgated in this writing REALLY changed all that much, for the majority of people? Probably not.

Second, who is this warning for? What uninformed soul is likely to read this prose poem unawares?

Finally, and perhaps most puzzling, why isn’t this disclaimer printed in LARGE, BOLD LETTERS on the title page of the BIBLE?

It seems a far more appropriate warning there, doesn’t it?

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