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Roald Dahl's books are being rewritten to remove language deemed offensive

Roald Dahl's books are being rewritten to remove language deemed offensive

Roald Dahl fans are flocking to social media in debate over the author's books being rewritten by sensitivity readers.

People are flocking to social media in debate over Roald Dahl's books being rewritten.

There was nothing better when you were little than getting a Roald Dahl novel for your bedtime story.

To be able to giggle over the BFG's whizpopping, the gloriously in-depth descriptions of spiteful Mr and Mrs Twit or singing along to Fantastic Mr Fox's song about Boggis, Bunce and Bean.

However, it seems that Puffin Books and the Roald Dahl Story Company - now owned by Netflix - have given the classic books a rewrite for modern times.

In 2020, they hired sensitivity writers and worked with children's literature collective Inclusive Minds to go back into Dahl's works and review the author's language so the books 'can continue to be enjoyed by all today'.

Sensitivity writers have gone through and adapted many of Roald Dahl's novels.
Sunshine/ Alamy Stock Photo

Some of the books that have been edited includeThe BFG, Charlie and the Chocolate Factor, The Witches and James and the Giant Peach.

The sensitivity writers have removed certain language used around body image as no character in any Dahl book is any longer described as 'fat' - with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory's Augustus Gloop instead branded as 'enormous'.

The Oompa-Loompas are now described as 'small people' opposed to 'small men' or 'tiny,' 'titchy' or 'no higher than my knee'.

Derogatory language around mental health has also been removed, such as 'crazy' or 'mad'.

And the words 'black' and 'white' have also been taken out, with the BFG stripped of his black coat and characters no longer described as going 'white with fear'.

Gender neutral terms have also been added, with the 'Cloud-Men' in James and the Giant Peach now 'Cloud-People'.

Any mention of 'boys and girls' has been changed to 'children', and Miss Trunchbull is now referred to as the 'most formidable woman' opposed to 'female'.

And additional explainer sentences have also been included, such as: "There are plenty of other reasons why women might wear wigs and there is certainly nothing wrong with that," when The Witches are described as being bald underneath their wigs.

Certain words and phrases have been edited out of the books.
foto-mix / Alamy Stock Photo

At the bottom of the edited versions of the books, Puffin says: "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."

A spokesperson for the Roald Dahl Story Company told LADbible: "We want to ensure that Roald Dahl’s wonderful stories and characters continue to be enjoyed by all children today. When publishing new print runs of books written years ago, it’s not unusual to review the language used alongside updating other details including a book’s cover and page layout. Our guiding principle throughout has been to maintain the storylines, characters, and the irreverence and sharp-edged spirit of the original text. Any changes made have been small and carefully considered.

"As part of our process to review the language used we worked in partnership with Inclusive Minds, a collective for people who are passionate about inclusion and accessibility in children's literature. The current review began in 2020, before Dahl was acquired by Netflix. It was led by Puffin and Roald Dahl Story Company together."

'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' as well as 'James and the Giant Peach' have seen significant alterations.
@incunabula/ Twitter

However, not everyone is convinced by the changes, as people flocked to Twitter to weigh in on the edits.

One user argued: "This change to Roald Dahl is so preposterously, laughably pointless it makes you wonder whether the publisher is aware that fiction is an act of creatively making things up."

"My son has all my old Roald Dahl books from the 70s and 80s," another said.

"You shouldn't censor like this, you should talk to kids about things. You don't get rid of problems by pretending they have never existed or that no-one was ever problematic."

@sarahhinchis/ Twitter

Others did agree with the sentiment but thought Puffin could have handled it differently.

"Apparently there’s a big fuss about words in Roald Dahl ‘s works of fiction being changed. Perhaps I could help people focus on some of his real life words. Here’s Dahl on Jews: "Even a stinker like Hitler didn’t pick on them for no reason," one user wrote.

While another added: "Pretending the past was a better place is a ludicrous thing to do. That’s what sanitising art works does. We need to see it to understand where we have come from.

"There are limits, like incitement to violence, but pretending Roald Dahl didn’t have some darkness in him is foolish."

LADbible has contacted Puffin for further comment.

Featured Image Credit: razorpix/ Alamy Stock Photo/ Sunshine/ Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: Books, Mental Health, Education