Revisions to British author’s books seen as “woke”

22-02-2023

European Union

Lennart Nijenhuis, CNE.news

Father reading to his child. Photo Unsplash, Picsea

Roald Dahl’s books for children are set to undergo significant changes in the coming days.

Puffin, the primary publisher of Dahl’s books, announced in The Telegraph that “sensitivity readers” were hired to analyse the texts and rewrite parts that would be intended for a modern audience.

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Roald Dahl. Photo Wikipedia

According to another report in The Guardian, significant edits have been made to the characters’ physical appearances. The words “fat” and “ugly” have been taken out of the new editions of Dahl’s novels. The character, Augustus Gloop in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, is now being described as “enormous” instead of “fat.” Mrs. Twit in The Twits is no longer seen as “ugly and beastly” but only regarded as “beastly.” The Oompa Loompas are being changed from “small men” to “small people.”

Dry as a bone

In addition to edits in word choice, some passages that were not previously seen in Dahl’s books have been added. In the original James and the Giant Peach, the centipede sings a series of couplets: “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.” now, they have been changed to the following 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.”

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Collection of the books of Roald Dahl. Photo Bol.com

As reported in The Guardian, the British-based publisher has released a statement which can be found on the copyright page in the revised books: “The wonderful words of Roald Dahl can transport you to different worlds and introduce you to the most marvellous characters. This book was written many years ago, and so we regularly review the language to ensure that it can continue to be enjoyed by all today.”

Worldwide criticism

The changes have sparked a wave of worldwide criticism that have been regarded as “woke.” Matthew Dennison, who became Dahl’s biographer, says that the renowned children’s author chose his words carefully.

“I am almost certain that he would have recognised that changes in his novels as a result of the political climate were driven by adults rather than children”, he said in Dagsavsien.

Award-winning novelist, Salman Rushdie, said in a recent Twitter post that although Dahl was “no angel,” he considered the new moves as “absurd”. “Puffin Books and the Dahl estate should be ashamed,” he said.

Abused

Suzanne Nossel, head of Pen America, said in Dagen report that the act of changing books can be “abused.” In the UK, Sunday times editor, Laura Hackett wrote that she would save her original Dahl books so her children could “enjoy them in their full, hideous, and colourful glory.” As for Glydendal, the publisher of Dahl’s novels in Norway, the disputed changes will also apply to their translations. Dahl was born in the UK to Norwegian parents.

As for De Fontein publishers in the Netherlands, a discussion on the changes is set to take place with Puffin, according to an Reformatorisch Dagblad(RD) report.

Chain

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