How to Read Donald Duck



With a new Introduction by ARIEL DORFMAN

“A handbook of de-colonization.” —John Berger

“An unforgettable exposé of the true nature of Disney-style American ‘innocence’ . . . I still have my copy of that book from the mid-1970s, which, in its Spanish version, had quite literally been consigned to the flames. It was a work that no American publisher would put out at the time, and so my well-worn copy has become a remarkably valuable collector’s item.” —Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch

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About the Book

First published in 1971 in Chile, where the entire third printing was dumped into the ocean by the Chilean Navy and bonfires were held to destroy earlier editions, How to Read Donald Duck reveals the capitalist ideology at work in our most beloved cartoons. Focusing on the hapless mice and ducks of Disney—curiously parentless, marginalized, always short of cash—Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart dissect the narratives of dependency and social aspiration that define the Disney corpus. Disney recognized the challenge, and when the book was translated and imported into the U.S. in 1975, managed to have all 4,000 copies impounded. Ultimately, 1,500 copies of the book were allowed into the country, the rest of the shipment was blocked, and until now no American publisher has dared re-release the book, which sold over a million copies worldwide and has been translated into seventeen languages.

A devastating indictment of a media giant, a document of twentieth-century political upheaval, and a reminder of the dark undercurrent of pop culture, How to Read Donald Duck is once again available, together with a new introduction by Ariel Dorfman.

disney comic

208 pages • Paperback ISBN 978-1-682191-53-8 • E-book 978-1-682191-54-5

About the Authors

ariel dorfman author photo

Photo © Duke University

Born in Argentina in 1942, Ariel Dorfman spent ten years as a child in New York, until his family was forced out of the United States by the anti-communist frenzy stirred by Joe McCarthy. The Dorfmans ended up in Chile, where Ariel spent his adolescence and youth, living through the Allende revolution and the subsequent resistance inside Chile, and abroad after the dictatorship that overthrew Allende in 1973. Accompanied by his wife Angélica, he wandered the globe as an exile, finally settling down in the United States, where he is now Walter Hines Emeritus Professor of Literature at Duke University. Dorfman’s acclaimed work, which includes the play and film “Death and the Maiden,” and the classic text about cultural imperialism, How to Read Donald Duck, covers almost every genre available (plays, novels, short stories, fiction, essays, journalism, opinion pieces, memoirs, and screenplays). His award-winning books have been published in more than fifty languages and his plays performed in over one hundred countries. He contributes regularly to major papers and magazines worldwide and has been active in the defense of human rights.

armand mattelart author photo

Photo © Alfonso Gumucio Dagron

Armand Mattelart is a Belgian sociologist and well-known as a Leftist French scholar. His work deals with media, culture and communication, particularly in their historical and international dimensions.

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