The publisher of Roald Dahl’s books has had a partial change of heart when it comes to the editing of his novels.
Penguin Random House announced last week that it would be editing some of the books’ language that is now considered problematic and not inclusive, The Associated Press reported.
For example, Augustus Gloop from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” was originally described as “enormously fat,” which was changed to “enormous.” The women in “Witches” were a “cashier in a supermarket or typing letters for a businessman,” which was changed to a “top scientist or running a business.”
Other references to mental health and race were also changed, approved by the Roald Dahl Story Company, which controls the rights to the books, the AP reported.
Dahl had been the center of controversy due to antisemitic comments he had made during his life, the AP reported. He died in 1990 and his family apologized for the comments in 2020.
Several well-known authors and leaders spoke out against the recent changes to Dahl’s novels, Variety reported.
Author Salman Rushdie called the edits “absurd censorship.”
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said, “It’s important that works of literature and works of fiction are preserved and not airbrushed,” Reuters reported.
Camilla, the queen consort, said during a reception to honor the second anniversary of her online book club, “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.” She finished the comments with “enough said,” not mentioning the controversy by name, but The Telegraphreported that her comments appeared to be in response to the editing of Dahl’s works.
Days after the announcement that only the edited version of books would be sold in the future, Penguin Random House announced that the former versions of Dahl’s books will now be published under a “classic” banner with the original language.
Both editions will be available later this year so “readers will be free to choose which version of Dahl’s stories they prefer,” the AP reported.
“We also recognise the importance of keeping Dahl’s classic texts in print. By making both Puffin and Penguin versions available, we are offering readers the choice to decide how they experience Roald Dahl’s magical, marvellous stories,” Francesca Dow, MD of Penguin Random House Children’s said, according to Variety.
The “classic” version will be sold under the Penguin brand and will have archive material for each of the stories, Variety reported.
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