These are some of the adaptations made to the texts of the world-famous children’s books by Roald Dahl, British media write. Publisher Puffin wants to remove “offensive” language from the books and ensure that “everyone can continue to enjoy reading them.”
Hundreds of customizations
The publisher has called in so-called sensitivity readers to rewrite Dahl’s books. According to The Guardian newspaper, it involves hundreds of adjustments and the addition of passages not written by Dahl. The newspaper therefore speaks of extensive changes, although the Roald Dahl Story Company speaks of “small, carefully considered” adjustments.
For example, in the book The Witches, after a paragraph stating that witches are bald under their wigs, the following is added: “There are lots of other reasons why women might wear wigs and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.” Also, Oompa Loompas are no longer ‘little men’ but ‘little people’ and the cloud men in De Reuzenperzik become cloud people.
Although the publisher and the Roald Dahl Story Company say it’s not uncommon for language to be revised in books, it has been widely criticized. Writer Salman Rushdie calls it “absurd censorship” on Twitter. The Dutch thriller writer Thomas Olde Heuvelt speaks of ‘cultural vandalism’.
The use of language in well-known books is not new. In 2015 it was decided – much more limited – to do this in the Pippi Longstocking books by Astrid Lindgren. Pippi’s father’s profession was changed to ‘king’ or ‘king of the South Pacific’.
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