Roald Dahl Books are Being Sanitized in New Editions



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The publisher Puffin has removed or changed hundreds of words in Roald Dahl’s books in new editions to “modernize” them, including Augustus Gloop being described as “enormous” instead of “fat,” Mrs Twits no longer being called “ugly,” “female” being changed to “woman,” Oompa Loompas described as “small people” instead of “small men,” and a line referring to witches wearing wigs changed to “There are plenty of other reasons why women might wear wigs and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.”

A spokesperson for the Roald Dahl estate said,

“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.”

The changes are being criticized by the political left and right: some argue that the books should be kept as-is and read for many more generations, while others would prefer that an introduction be added that explains how some content might be offensive today and opens up a conversation with readers. It’s hard to find anyone across the political spectrum who is defending this method of altering so much of Dahl’s language, though.

Authors Salman Rushdie and Philip Pullman have both spoken out against the edits. Rushie said, “Roald Dahl was no angel but this is absurd censorship. Puffin Books and the Dahl estate should be ashamed.”

Pullman noted that if the Roald Dahl books are no longer relevant to this generation of children, they will “fade away” on their own: “If Dahl offends us, let him go out of print. Read all these wonderful authors who are writing today, who don’t get as much of a look-in because of the massive commercial gravity of people like Roald Dahl.”

You can read more about this story at The Independent.

Find more news and stories of interest from the book world in Breaking in Books.