April 21, 2024

Readers highlight ‘stupid’ edits to classic Roald Dahl books: ‘Hilariously terrible’

Readers are sounding off after a publishing company revealed it had rewritten some of the late author Roald Dahl’s books to remove some reportedly offensive language.

Puffin, the publisher of Dahl’s classic works, hired sensitivity readers to update portions of the author’s wording in the U.K. editions to ensure the books “can continue to be enjoyed by all today.” The edits include new gender-neutral language and altered descriptions of certain characters’ physical appearances.

For instance, Augustus Gloop, the chubby character featured in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” is now described as “enormous,” while Mrs. Twit, a character from “The Twits,” is described as just “beastly” instead of “ugly and beastly.” In “James and the Giant Peach,” the character of Miss Sponge is no longer described as “the fat one,” Miss Spider’s head is not “black” anymore, and the Earthworm has given up its “lovely pink” skin for “lovely smooth skin.”

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Upset readers took to social media to share what some of what they highlighted as the most egregious edits.

“Stupid,” Daily Telegraph arts and entertainment editor Anita Singh said of the “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” changes.

“Genuinely laughing out loud at some of these awful, purse-lipped, tin-eared changes to Roald Dahl. Hilariously terrible,” one Twitter user wrote, with a reference to an edit to Dahl’s “The Witches.” The 2022 edition changes the line, “You can’t go round pulling the hair of every lady you meet, even if she is wearing gloves. Just try it and see what happens,” to, “Besides, there are plenty of other reasons why women might wear wigs and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.”

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“But should say too that it’s not really funny,” the user added. “It’s grotesque and immoral and a concession to fanatics. Buy proper Dahl books secondhand, everyone!”

Several other Twitter users, including Times Radio presenter Stig Abell, blasted the particular edit from “The Witches” as “pointless.”Β 

Author Michael Shellenberger equated Puffin’s changes to “totalitarian censorship.”

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“Executed abysmally,” Summer Anne Burton, a freelance creative director, said of the edits.

Others defended the edits, arguing that some of Dahl’s ideas were offensive and problematic.

Dahl and his work have come under scrutiny in recent years for alleged anti-Semitic comments he made prior to his death.

“The Dahl family and the Roald Dahl Story Company deeply apologise for the lasting and understandable hurt caused by some of Roald Dahl’s statements,” the family’s statement read. “Those prejudiced remarks are incomprehensible to us and stand in marked contrast to the man we knew and to the values at the heart of Roald Dahl’s stories, which have positively impacted young people for generations.”

Other late authors deemed controversial have found their works under the microscope. In March 2021, the sales of six Dr. Seuss books were halted overΒ racist and insensitive imagery, according to the business that preserves and protects the author’s legacy. Those books included, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,”Β “If I Ran the Zoo,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!,” and “The Cat’s Quizzer.”

“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,”Β Dr. Seuss EnterprisesΒ told The Associated Press in a statement at the time. “Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families,”Β the statement continued.

Fox News’ Kyle Morris contributed to this report

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