New Brunswick — Yesterday, in celebration of beloved children author Dr. Seuss’s birthday, his estate announced that they would be ceasing publication of seven of his books, including The Bumbwick of New Brunswick, which many scholars believe features negative depictions of Atlantic Canadians.
The author, whose real name is Ted Geisel, visited the province briefly as part of a reading program in the late 1940s. After just a few short years, the resulting book was published by Random House in 1952.
The book follows a character called “The Bumbwick,” depicted as an unintelligent, sub-human creature clothed in red plaid that works for the local pulp and paper mill.
The Bumbwick was a dumb hick,
he worked for the mill.
He had a thick gut
and was over the hill.
The book also makes reference to local products and culture, and not always in the most positive light.
The Moose-Headed drinker, his stories are bunk.
He says he works hard, but is most often drunk.
Apart from the Bumbwick, Geisel also describes all local residents as “thick” and “dumb as the sand that makes up a brick.”
Nobody knows if their tongues are all twisted,
or if there are rocks in their heads.
But nobody that speaks English
can understand a darn thing that’s said.
Not everyone is happy about the book’s removal. Andrew Sutton, a UNB literature professor, told The Manatee that he thinks that Atlantic Canadians are being “too sensitive” about the story.
“It’s just a folksy depiction of this part of the country in the 1950s,” he said. “It’s a fun time capsule. Show me where in the text Dr. Seuss is specifically talking about the province in a derogatory manner.”
How about this?
To live in New Brunswick,
you have nothing to gain.
So eat the end of a shotgun,
and blow out your brain.
“Yeah,” said Sutton, looking at the accompanying illustration and wrinkling his nose. “That’s pretty unambiguous, isn’t it?”