Changes to the works of best-selling British author Roald Dahl to make them more politically correct sparked outrage among the anti-woke brigade, including Salman Rushdie and Rishi Sunak, the UK Prime Minister. Some might say, “it’s politically correct gone mad.”
Words such as “fat” and “ugly,” as well as descriptions using the colours black and white have all been removed meaning characters such as Augustus Gloop will be no longer fat, he’ll probably be big boned, while Mrs Twit will not be ugly and the Oompa Loompa’s are now gender neutral.
Leading writers, including Booker prizewinner Rushdie, expressed their anger toward the changes, which he called “absurd censorship.”
The late author Dahl, who died in 1990 at the age of 76, created popular characters such as Matilda, the BFG, Fantastic Mr Fox, Willy Wonka, and the Twits. His books have sold over 300 million copies and have been translated into 63 languages, with many adaptations of his work for both film and television. Despite his immense success, Dahl has been a controversial figure, and his estate issued an official apology in 2020 for the antisemitic remarks he made during his lifetime.
An organization called Inclusive Minds made up of “sensitivity readers” who are passionate about promoting inclusion, diversity, equality, and accessibility in children’s literature was responsible for the revisions to the author’s books.
British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported that hundreds of changes have been made to the author’s books, including alterations to language concerning gender, race, weight, mental health, and violence. Words such as “fat” and “ugly” were removed, as were descriptions using the colours black and white. The newspaper’s journalists found 59 changes in “The Witches” alone, with hundreds more discovered in other popular books by Dahl, such as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Matilda.”
Rushdie, the 75 year old author of the 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses, took to Twitter on Saturday to voice his opposition to the move by Puffin, in conjunction with the late author’s estate. He said…
“Roald Dahl was no angel but this is absurd censorship. Puffin Books and the Dahl estate should be ashamed.”
Even the British Prime Minister spoke out against the move to update the books.
At a press briefing yesterday he was asked whether it is right to censor children’s books, Sunak’s spokesperson employed Dahl’s terminology. He said…
“When it comes to our rich and varied literary heritage, the Prime Minister agrees with the BFG that you shouldn’t ‘gobblefunk around with words.'”
The spokesperson added that “it’s important that works of literature and fiction are preserved and not airbrushed,” and said…
“We’ve always defended the right to free speech and expression.”
Philip Pullman, author of the “His Dark Materials” fantasy series, highlighted the fact that whatever changes might be made today, millions of older editions are circulating in schools, libraries, second-hand stores and elsewhere.
“All those words are still there. Are you going to round up all the books and cross them out with a big black pen?”
The Roald Dahl Story Company revealed that the current review with Puffin, and in partnership with Inclusive Minds, began in 2020 — the year before Dahl’s works were acquired by Netflix.
“We want to ensure that Roald Dahl’s wonderful stories and characters continue to be enjoyed by all children today. When publishing new print runs of books written years ago, it’s not unusual to review the language used alongside updating other details including a book’s cover and page layout. Our guiding principle throughout has been to maintain the storylines, characters, and the irreverence and sharp-edged spirit of the original text. Any changes made have been small and carefully considered.”
Hear that noise? It’s the sound of Dahl, turning in his grave.
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