Major Publisher Rewrites Classic Children’s Books To Appease Leftist “Sensitivity”
“The changes were made by the publisher, Puffin, and the Roald Dahl Story Company, now owned by Netflix, with sensitivity readers hired to scrutinise the text.”
Apparently, the radical left is no longer going to insist that classic literature with “harmful material” be banned; instead, they’ll just rewrite literary works to conform to their woke sensibilities.
Think I’m kidding? A group of self-important woke lefties is “fixing” the works of Roald Dahl for a “modern audience.”
Augustus Gloop is no longer fat, Mrs Twit is no longer fearfully ugly, and the Oompa-Loompas have gone gender-neutral in new editions of Roald Dahl’s beloved stories.
The publisher, Puffin, has made hundreds of changes to the original text, removing many of Dahl’s colourful descriptions and making his characters less grotesque.
The publisher, Puffin, has made hundreds of changes to the original text, removing many of Dahl’s colourful descriptions and making his characters less grotesque.
The review of Dahl’s language was undertaken to ensure that the books “can continue to be enjoyed by all today”, Puffin said.
References to physical appearance have been heavily edited. The word “fat” has been removed from every book – Augustus Gloop in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory may still look like a ball of dough, but can now only be described as “enormous”.
In the same story, the Oompa-Loompas are no longer “tiny”, “titchy” or “no higher than my knee” but merely small. And where once they were “small men”, they are now “small people”.
. . . . References to “female” characters have disappeared – Miss Trunchbull in Matilda, once a “most formidable female”, is now a “most formidable woman”.
“Boys and girls” has been turned into “children”. The Cloud-Men in James and the Giant Peach have become Cloud-People and Fantastic Mr Fox’s three sons have become daughters.
Matilda reads Jane Austen rather than Rudyard Kipling, and a witch posing as “a cashier in a supermarket” now works as “a top scientist”.
Mrs Twit’s “fearful ugliness” is reduced to “ugliness”, while Mrs Hoppy in Esio Trot is not an “attractive middle-aged lady” but a “kind middle-aged lady”.
Genuinely laughing out loud at some of these awful purse-lipped tin-eared changes to Roald Dahl. Hilariously terrible. pic.twitter.com/kz7jNJDgNP
— Niall Gooch 👍🏴🇻🇦🚅🏏✒ (@niall_gooch) February 18, 2023
I thought ‘trigger warnings’ on classic texts of literature were bad enough. Now it seems that publishers are re-writing the words written by authors – and hoping nobody notices.
Congrats to the Telegraph today for uncovering the many secret changes made to Roald Dahl’s books. pic.twitter.com/VeZf5XCULH
— Colin Brazier (@ColinBrazierTV) February 18, 2023
Not content to rewrite existing text, the woke Puffin publishers and Netflix, who acquired Roald Dahl Story Company, decided they would write and insert entirely new text into these children’s classics.
The Telegraph continues:
Passages not written by Dahl have also been added. In The Witches, a paragraph explaining that witches are bald beneath their wigs ends with the new line: “There are plenty of other reasons why women might wear wigs and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.”
In previous editions of James and the Giant Peach, the Centipede sings: “Aunt Sponge was terrifically fat/And tremendously flabby at that,” and, “Aunt Spiker was thin as a wire/And dry as a bone, only drier.”
Both verses have been removed, and in their place are the underwhelming rhymes: “Aunt Sponge was a nasty old brute/And deserved to be squashed by the fruit,” and, “Aunt Spiker was much of the same/And deserves half of the blame.”
Pre-woke writers used delightful turns of phrase, word play and puns, symbolism, and a host of other tropes to convey their story’s meaning. But none of that matters to the defilers of Dahl’s children’s literature.
An emphasis on mental health has led to the removal of “crazy” and “mad”, which Dahl used frequently in comic fashion. A mention in Esio Trot of tortoises being “backward” – the joke behind the book’s title – has been excised.
The words “black” and “white” have been removed: characters no longer turn “white with fear” and the Big Friendly Giant in The BFG cannot wear a black cloak.
They're literally going back and sanitizing every Roald Dahl book ever written. Removing words, changing entire meanings. https://t.co/NCxymoGgZC
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) February 18, 2023
I’m not sure they can still even be considered Dahl’s works at this point, so why not just erase his name entirely?
Here’s some of the backstory on the decision to desecrate these wonderful literary classics.
The changes were made by the publisher, Puffin, and the Roald Dahl Story Company, now owned by Netflix, with sensitivity readers hired to scrutinise the text.
The review began in 2020, when the company was still run by the Dahl family. Netflix acquired the literary estate in 2021 for a reported £500 million.
Sensitivities over Dahl’s stories were heightened when a 2020 Hollywood version of The Witches led to a backlash over its depiction of the Grand Witch, played by Anne Hathaway, with fingers missing from each hand.
Warner Bros was forced to make an apology after Paralympians and charities said it was offensive to the limb difference community.
Needless to say, people have thoughts.
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 gross. Puffin, publisher of Roald Dahl's classics (Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, James & the Giant Peach etc) had sensitivity readers mangle the text.
Mean words like "fat" and "crazy" etc are gone!
Buy physical books before they all get 1984'd!https://t.co/3S6qdqdwpy pic.twitter.com/7pqwH3jDoy
— Carl (@HistoryBoomer) February 17, 2023
I work in publishing. These people are hated.
The sheer arrogance of rewriting an author's work! Nothing but vandalism. They hold authors, agents, publishers, and booksellers to ransom with the threat of shaming and bullying.
It is a protection racket. We need to name them.
— ResponsibleAdult (@CommonishGround) February 18, 2023
Roald Dahl's publisher changing his words after his death.
Apparently we have perfect insight into what is good and right, having attained purity. It is only past people who made errors, had secrets, believed things that weren’t true.
We are a confused and arrogant people. https://t.co/elXTdqYlxy
— Heather E Heying (@HeatherEHeying) February 18, 2023
Drag queens & dildos are fine in children’s literature but don’t call a character fat or ugly.
Buy old books. Multiple copies.
“The word “fat” has been cut from every new edition of relevant books, while the word “ugly” has also been culled…”https://t.co/n07e0sxPLr
— Beanie (@Beanie0597) February 18, 2023
We’ve gone from providing “trigger warnings” to actively removing any content deemed politically incorrect. Whatever next?
— tom (@edibletom) February 18, 2023
Get a hard copy of all your favourite books, before the digital sensitivity commissars either alter them, or delete them completely.
Roald Dahl's books REWRITTEN to remove 'offensive' language to create world where no one is 'fat' | Daily Mail Online https://t.co/fRZTUyr54I
— Laurence Fox (@LozzaFox) February 18, 2023
[Featured image via YouTube]
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Self-satirization like this really gives traditional humor and absurdity a black eye.
It’s abysmal. They are neo-luddites with access to technology. Makes them think they’re smart, smarter than the rest. Makes them dangerous.
But is it a surprise? Look at what they’re doing to Starsky & Hutch. Not creative enough to do someting original, so bastardize what was.
They deserve laughter and ridicule, and shame. It’s happening more often, but turning a ship takes time. Hope we have enough of it for the sea to change.
Imagine what they’d do to Barney Miller, Cheers, et al.
This utterly obnoxious and Orwellian retroactive censorship/editing was applied to Hugh Lofting’s books more than fifteen years ago, if I recall correctly. Lofting is the author of the wonderful “Dr. Dolittle” series of children’s books. Some of his characters were deemed to be “racially insensitive,” as that phrase is invoked, thus resulting in the re-writing or excising of certain dialogue.
That the Leftist totalitarians have now come for Roald Dahl is no surprise. I’m certain that Ian Fleming will be next on the block, and Shakespeare probably won’t be safe, either.
And of course on U.S. shores, Mark Twain is a perennial target of these Maoist thugs.
What a sad state of affairs this is.
Did not know that about Dr Dolittle
The African prince, Bumpo, a comic and good-natured character who is featured in several of the “Dr. Dolittle” stories, was deemed to be offensive by the censors and the material was re-written, with the approval of the Lofting Estate. I read all of these books as a kid and found absolutely nothing offensive about Bumpo or any other character, but, we know how hyper-sensitive Leftist/Dumb-o-crat cultural sensibilities are, today.
Mary Poppins got the treatment too.
I’ll also observe that isn’t it interesting how Leftists and Dumb-o-crats used to stake out their ground as allegedly being staunchly anti-censorship, yet, these idiots have now morphed into the most unabashed and enthusiastic censors of human expression on Earth, outside of communist and Islamic societies/states.
What used to be is no longer relevant. The past is not prologue. It is a mere figment of the imagination, to be demeaned, denied, and destroyed.
I assume that Aragorn’s compliment to Eomer in “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (“No niggard are you, Éomer,’ to give thus to Gondor the fairest thing in your realm!”) will also soon be re-written or removed, along with any other allegedly offensive material in that trilogy.
Before you feel sorry for Herr Dahl, read up on him – he was a Nazi-level Jew hater.
He murdered Jews by the millions? Because THAT is what the Nazis did. Not just make some anti-Semitic comments. Genocide.
I’m not asking him over for dinner. I enjoyed his books as a child. That’s it. And I oppose this Orwellian rewriting of his works because of the principle of the matter. Censorship doesn’t suddenly become cool when it’s used against an anti-Semite.
Being “a Nazi-level Jew hater” does not require having killed anyone at all. Omar’s and Tlaib’s Jew-hatred likely reaches Nazi-level, and yet to the best of anyone’s knowledge they haven’t so much as raised their hands against anyone.
This idea that because the Nazis committed one really horrendous crime, one can’t compare anyone to them, in any way, unless they’ve done something similar, is just stupid. If you can’t call someone a Nazi, or compare him to the Nazis, unless they’ve done something like the Holocaust then you can’t even call the pre-1941 Nazis Nazis! Let alone the pre-1939 Nazis! After all, they hadn’t done any mass murders yet!
That said, I can’t support Eric R’s assertion that Dahl’s antisemtism was Nazi-like. I haven’t seen any evidence that he hated Jews enough to kill any, let alone all of us, even if he had the opportunity. Most antisemites wouldn’t do that. So it’s useful to distinguish them from those who would.
Here are some of the worst things a leftist site says Dahl said.
So I suppose the “Forward” will be denouncing The Squad any moment now.
Unlike Dahl and the rest of us, “Eric R” must have an immaculate past.
Eric, I and most people are sufficiently mature and objective to be able to separate an artist’s personal flaws and prejudices from the merit of their artistic work.
I’ll still listen to Wagner and I’ll still read H.L. Mencken’s work, while remaining cognizant of their prejudices — to cite but a couple of examples of Jew-hating artists whose work still possesses merit
Your stance is utterly infantile and stupid and actually doesn’t represent any sort of moral high ground.
If somebody rewrote Mein Kampf and left it under Adolph’s name, I’d feel the same way about it.
Exactly. Rewriting an author’s work makes it inauthentic, no longer the actual work of the author. Translation from one language to another (esp. from a dead language to a modern language) provides some leeway for translators. But most people aren’t willing to invest the time to learn a language only so they can read a book in its original language. That option remains for anyone who desires strict authenticity. But it would be problematic to change the Greek of the new testament so that it couldn’t be read in, and translated from, its original format. (Then, with documents like those of the NT, there’s a question of which “authentic” version does one accept as “most authentic”? But this is a question we don’t have to address with modern authors.)
“Enormous” is e(x) norma, outside what is normal.
I gotta ex, her name is Norma.
I can imagine how the woke censors will destroy Shakespeare’s Othello. Iago says some very racist things, but that’s the point: Iago is a villain! But the censors will object to letting people’s delicate ears hear those slurs, which just might “offend” them.
Because Jew-hate is deemed to be acceptable and laudable among contemporary Leftists and Dumb-o-crats, it’s fair to assume that these Maoist thugs will leave “The Merchant of Venice” untouched.
Nah, they’ll eventually destroy that just on basic principles. It was written by a white male, and is held among the greatest works of Western European literature. That’s enough to unavoidably make a target out of it. But maybe they’ll increase the anti-Semitic vitriol, rather than make it less offensive.
A “kinder gentler” book burning.
Mostly peaceful, certainly.
Of the sort of which, if you are not aware, you cannot smell that it’s been burned. Makes it all the more dangerous a process.
Easy fix for this crap, rewrite our copyright law. When these sorts of massive rewrites are made by the new owner of the material which alters the character of the original published material of the author then that owner has forfeited the ownership of the original work via their own actions to alter that work.
Put the original work into public domain and the owner who made the alterations now has the Copyright for the altered version only. The original author should always be free to change their work without loss of copyright b/c they are the creator. Seems like a workable solution for people of good will and upholds the purpose of copyright law to protect the author and his original work from imitation.
That would be a good idea except for the lawsuits. How much change will be too much? How many years will the courts take to decide? How many lawyers will dare touch such cases, when taking the side against the censors is guaranteed to get one cancelled?
It’s more likely that the second hand book market for unbastardized versions of Dahl’s work (or others so mistreated) will boom. And maybe, in time, we’ll start seeing bootleg versions.
Hey, kid? Want some candy? No? How about a pre-2022 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with the bad words still in?
Pretty simple. Craft it so that if the changes would be small enough to trigger a copyright infringement claim if those changes were made by anyone else then unless the author does it the the original work moves into public domain.
One more tweak. Apply a ten year rule for publication of the original work when copyright ownership changes hands. If they refuse to print the original work in sufficient quantities to meet demand then the Copyright enters the public domain.
So are they ok with bowdlerize versions of the BS that is being written now? How abought a rewritten and drawn version of Gender Queer called Neuter Anomalous with all of the crap drained out of it and all reference to sex acts and explicit images erased? I bet not.
They are no different than the worst the book burners of the past. Leave the F’n books alone. Stop using government to for it on people and allow people to read them on their own if they choose. I assume that anything that got a YA or youth literary award in the last 15 years is probably garbage and no child or YA should read it.
from bowdlerize to dahlerize in two hundred years – not too shabby
Jokes on them. The value of my home library just went up again.
Critical Revisionist Prejudice (CRP)
Though Mr. Lincoln shared the prejudices of his white fellow-countrymen against the Negro, it is hardly necessary to say that in his heart of hearts he loathed and hated slavery. . . .
— Frederick Douglass “ORATION IN MEMORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN”
Slavery, DIEversity, political congruence, and the wicked solution. #HateLovesAbortion
[body] fat is healthy when shared with a baby… fetal-baby, the hardest choice you will ever love, together.
Excess [body] fat is beautiful, healthy at any weight, is a first-order comorbidity and predictor of disease progression and medical/insurance/government capitalization.
Ugly, voluntarily gender neutral, or involuntarily aesthetically displeasing?
Dahl was an antisemite and a racist, and his books underwent the same sort of “censorship” before they were published in the first place. His editor required him to change a lot of things because they were unacceptably racist even at the time. Such as the original portrayal of the Oompa Loompas as pygmys that Willie Wonka had rescued from Darkest Africa, and of the BFG as a combination of every black caricature in history. So now they’re just doing the same thing again, but this time without his cooperation since he’s dead.
It’s being done because the family, terrified of leftists going after his catalogue for wrongthink, sold out to Netflix to get loot while it was still a viable enterprise. Netflix, is now authorizing a rewriting of his works so as not to offend the perpetually offended, so they can continue to profit from his books and future movies.
Even as a kid, I thought Willie Wonka was an asshole.
OK, but how’s that different from his original editor ordering him to make such changes himself, or he would not publish the books in the first place?
Milhouse, you’re not going unconscious, are you? After they were published they should have been left alone. The first draft isn’t published; the final draft is.
The difference is, Dahl made the changes himself. In this case, it’s a publisher changing what he said and pretending it’s his words.
So once the author is dead, that’s it? No more changes allowed? But while he’s alive he can change it all he likes, even fifty years later?! I don’t see the reason in that.
But that’s apparently the practice.
Han apparently didn’t shoot first, and all the cops in ET carried walkie-talkies.
As to the other point, if the author agrees to change his words, they’re still the author’s words and are publishable under his name. Once he’s dead, no one can claim that any further changes are “his words.”
The distinction is that manuscript edits — a routine part of any writing, editing and publishing process — that are made with a living author’s acceptance or approval and published in his/her lifetime are fairly considered to be far more legitimate than those made after the author’s death, by obnoxiously Maoist, self-anointed, cultural gatekeepers acting out of a fallacious, subjective and utterly misguided sense of moral righteousness.
I don’t understand why this distinction doesn’t resonate with you. It’s the difference between something changes done with the artist’s approval (however grudgingly) and that imposed upon his/her work, posthumously, when the artist has no say in the matter.
Agreed. An author can always dig in his heels against changes suggested by an editor, and not allow the publication of the work until the editor agrees to leave the work alone. It’s been done before. But in theses cases, the choice still remains with the author – accede to the changes, forego the monetary compensation on principle and refuse to allow publication, or find another publisher.
Bigotry is a very wicked thing. It is also baked into human nature. The human brain is a formidable pattern matching engine. This is a good thing for survival, but a bad thing when people attribute the bad behavior of individuals to groups. That’s what identity politics is about.
The thing which identity politics fails to understand is that we are all guilty of bigotry to some degree. The canceling will continue until all are canceled.
This was done to the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series over 60 years ago. Bibulous, dumb Irish cops and the like were totally eliminated. Therein lies the power. It really does change the past.
I had totally forgotten about this example. That’s how ubiquitous this totalitarian excrement has become. “Dr Seuss’s” books were also subjected to this treatment.
He would have loved the Soviet Encyclopedia
As I have done getting book gifts for children, find old books and stay away from anything new.
Maybe something can be done to protect published material currently under copyright.
But the Brothers Grimm have been in the public domain for a long time. So has Shakespeare. Anyone can mutilate their works.
Maybe that’s why nobody has bothered to mutilate Shakespeare, because unmutilated editions will continue to be published? If you hold exclusive rights to a work, at least you know that in the new book market you won’t be competing against original, unaltered, editions. The Left does seem to understand that it really can’t compete in the arena of ideas, so it probably realizes such a scenario wouldn’t be profitable for them (in both a monetary and political sense).
You’ll love Netflix’s plans for the 1984 relaunch.
Big Sibling is a proud black woman, Winston finds redemption as a drag princess, and in the end, everyone lives happily ever after.
May Penguin n Netflix have the same success with this that Bezos’ Books Online did with their Lord of the Rings prequel. Seems like they’re on the way.
(Also, The Witcher can’t be made PC, let alone “woke.” Even fanboi Superman couldn’t save those idiots from themselves.
The only good here is maybe, just maybe, in my very own special universe, with these spectacular failures — let’s include Not The Snyder Cut, MCU Phaseers on Suck, and The Porn Star Wars Parodies were Better — maybe, just maybe some Milnius reborn could give us an independently-produced Elric adaptation.
A nerd can dream.)
I actually picked up the first book in the Elric Saga recently. Hadn’t read it previously. I am struggling with it a bit. Maybe because the writing style, pacing or something seems off compared to the later generations of Fantasy and SciFi? I can only do a chapter or two and keep putting it aside. I keep coming back trying to push through hoping the next chapter has the thing that makes me want to keep reading v put it aside again.
The Elric stuff is built weird. I can’t right now recall the name of the entry point that comes to mind — opening at the formalities as Elric first ascends the throne. That reads right through, and you get the flavor of the weirdness of unconventional kind.
A useful PoV is that Elric was written as a kind of un-Tolkein(*): turn that whole fantasy-epic, mythology kind of thing on its head, even in language, in-genre. The author knew he was doing this, while the characters and story never d0. It’s the opposite of Rozencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, in that way.
There’s an aspect of Dahl sanatizing in this. It’s supposed to be creepy. If you must, maybe do something “In The World Created by Dahl.” When you “adapt” something so much the only similarity is the names, you’re doing something like fraud. (Don’t get me going on the posthumous “Dune” stuff; corrupted tho they had a living example of doing it right to draw from in Chrostopher Tolkein.)
A less strangely built read from Moorcock is: Behold the Man. Just a fish out of water time-travel story. Really.