HomeUS News updateCritics blast 'absurd' rewrites to Roald Dahl's children's books

Critics blast ‘absurd’ rewrites to Roald Dahl’s children’s books

Half a century after being published, several children’s books by world-renowned British author Roald Dahl are being revised to change language that may be offensive to some, sparking accusations of censorship.

Some words related to weight, gender and race were removed or changed.

The “extremely fat” 9-year-old boy became the “Giant” in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, and the “Cloud-Men” from “James and the Giant Peach” became the “Cloud-People”.

Miss Trunchbull, the principal in “Matilda”, is no longer the “horse” face, and the “eight nutty little idiots” are now just “eight nutty little boys”.

Britain’s Telegraph newspaper first reported the changes on Friday Puffin Books, a division of Penguin Random House, and the Roald Dahl Story Company have made hundreds of changes to books since 2020, even those never by the late Dahl Also add written paragraphs.

Award-winning author Salman Rushdie called the changes “absurd censorship”.

“Shame on Puffin Books and the Dahl estate,” Rushdie, who went into hiding for years after Iran’s then-supreme leader issued a fatwa calling for his death because of alleged blasphemy in the novel “The Satanic Verses,” said in a Said. do,

The India-born author has been largely absent from public view after being stabbed on stage at a lecture in New York last August.

Scottish actor Brian Cox said, “We can’t start rewriting literature just because it suits our so-called moral code.” times radio,

Puffin Books did not respond to NBC News’ request for comment.

Roald Dahl
British author Roald Dahl in 1971. Ronald Dumont / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

For its part, the Roald Dahl Story Company said it wanted to “ensure that Roald Dahl’s wonderful stories and characters are still enjoyed by all children today.”

A spokesperson told NBC News, “When publishing new print runs of books written years ago, it is not unusual to review the language used as well as updating other details, including the book’s cover and page layout. “

Dahl, who died in 1990 at the age of 74, remains popular with young readers around the world. Many of his books and characters have been adapted into films and stage shows, such as “Matilda,” Willy Wonka and “The Witch.”

His books have been translated into 63 languages ​​and have sold more than 300 million copies worldwide, admired by his fans for his largely sarcastic and sometimes dark language that taps into the humor of children.

In 2021, Netflix bought Dahl’s works amid stiff competition from other streaming giants like Disney+ and HBO Max. The Roald Dahl Story Company told NBC News that revisions began before the deal with Netflix closed and were co-led with Puffin Books.

Dahl, who has long been a controversial figure, was accused of racism, misogyny and anti-Semitism over comments he made throughout his life. Even decades after his death, his family apologized in 2020 for the “permanent and understandable injury caused by Roald Dahl’s anti-Semitic statements”.

PEN America, a New York-based community of more than 7,500 writers who advocate for freedom of expression, said it was “concerned” by an “alleged attempt” to quash books that could offend someone.

“Selective editing may represent a dangerous new weapon to tailor works of literature to particular sensibilities,” the organization’s head, Susan Nosel, said in a statement. do Saturday.

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