(Molly Bruns, Headline USA) The publishing company that owns the rights to Roald Dahl’s popular children’s books, such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach and The Witches, is editing what they deem as “offensive language” out of the books.
According to the Daily Caller, the publishing house, Puffin Books, is changing words or taking out entire passages that are considered offensive to “modern audiences,” as well as making additions of their own.
One example of this is in one of Dahls most popular stories, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. A character referred to as Grandma Josephine talks about a “crazy Indian prince in the 2001 edition of the story, the 2022 edition altered the reference to say “a ridiculously rich Indian prince.”
Another character, Augustus Gloop, is “enormously fat” in the original novel. The editors altered the description to simply “enormous.”
The descriptors for many characters in other books are more culturally sensitive, such as Aunt Sponge from James and the Giant Peach. She is also known as “enormously fat,” but is instead introduced as “quite large” and is no longer is described as “fat” throughout the rest of the novel.
Many changes made to the book The Witches contain modern, feminist themes. One phrase referencing female workers changed from the examples of “cashier” and “typing letters” to “top scientist” and “running a business.”
Roald Dahl – 2001 authorized Puffin edition vs 2022 authorized Puffin edition.https://t.co/4dnBSjHEvT pic.twitter.com/Psfulj7Krk
— Incunabula (@incunabula) February 18, 2023
The changes made to Dahl’s novels kickstarted an online debate about modern censorship and sensibilities.
New York Times bestselling author Sam Abramson defended the changes, dismissing Dahl as a “bad man” and telling upset readers to “grow up.”
Dahl was a bad man and there’s no one alive today unrelated to him who particularly cares about his feelings—what we care about is finding a way to have words that meant something to us continue to mean something to kids living in a very different time, and this is how that works
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) February 18, 2023
Others argued that the outright changes and additions made to the book for the sake of the more sensitive modern audiences is “totalitarian censorship.” Some also pointed out that if people find the books offensive, they probably just shouldn’t read them.
The publisher of the books of the late Roald Dahl has made hundreds of changes to them, supposedly to make them more palatable to “sensitive” audiences. This is totalitarian censorship and should be broadly condemned by authors & publishers. https://t.co/ysXBzdgrDR
— Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) February 18, 2023
This is bone-chilling. https://t.co/Tq9rle6DEz
— Noah Gittell (@noahgittell) February 18, 2023
This should be illegal. Why isn’t this illegal
— Rareș Barbu (@rab_xyz) February 18, 2023