Roald Dahl publisher forced into huge u-turn in decision to edit 'offensive' language from books
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Roald Dahl’s books are to continue to be sold as an unedited ‘classic’ version alongside edited versions that have been rewritten to remove language that could be deemed offensive.
The company that publishes Dahl's books – Penguin, under the Puffin label - has said that a classic collection will be released that will ‘keep the author’s classic text in print’ after a backlash from many who disagreed with the decision to rewrite the books.
Dahl has always been a bit of a controversial figure, despite being regarded as one of the world’s best writers of children’s books.
There have always been suggestions that some of his creations aren’t exactly the most politically correct, and the man himself made some seriously questionable statements in his life, as well.
However, years after he died, there has been another hullaballoo of late after it was announced that his books were to be republished as an edited version removing some of the stuff that perhaps hasn’t stood the test of time.
That included references to weight, violence, mental health, race, and gender, and it’s fair to say that some people weren’t happy about the changes made.
Sir Salman Rushdie, who knows a thing or two about controversial literature himself having survived assassination attempts and death threats for his work ‘The Satanic Verses’, called the move ‘absurd censorship’.
Never one to pass up the chance to comment on a distracting controversy, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak even weighed in, quoting a Dahl word to suggest that no one should ‘gobblefunk’ with the original text.
The Queen Consort Camilla even had some words on the matter, calling for writers to be ‘true to their calling’.
Making her first appearance since a bout of Covid-19, Camilla launched a book project which was previously known as The Reading Room, but will now be known as The Queen’s Reading Room.
Speaking to a room full of esteemed guests, Camilla said: “Thank you, on behalf of book lovers and book clubs everywhere, for sharing your talents with us and for everything you do to promote literacy and a love of literature.
"Please keep doing so and please remain true to your calling, unimpeded by those who may wish to curb the freedom of your expression or impose limits on your imagination."
Anyway, the 17 unedited ‘classic’ versions of the text will be published alongside the newly-released edited versions, which have been made to ‘cater for the sensitivities of modern audiences’.
The unedited books will contain archive material that is relevant to the stories of Dahl, as well as completely unabridged versions of the stories.
Penguin’s managing director Francesca Dow said: “We've listened to the debate over the past week which has reaffirmed the extraordinary power of Roald Dahl's books, and the very real questions around how stories from another era can be kept relevant for each new generation.
"At Puffin we have proudly published Roald Dahl's stories for more than 40 years in partnership with the Roald Dahl Story Company.
"Their mischievous spirit and his unique storytelling genius have delighted the imaginations of readers across many generations.”
Penguin added that the decision had been taken because ‘[the company] recognise the importance of keeping Dahl’s classic texts in print’.