Rewriting Roald Dahl

I’m not a fan of rewriting literature. Even for kids.

Apparently, Puffin Books has been changing language in Roald Dahl’s books to make them more acceptable for today’s culture. Here’s an excerpt from a NBC News story called “Critics blast ‘absurd’ rewrites of Roald Dahl’s children’s books:”

A half-century after being published, several children’s books by world-famous British author Roald Dahl are being revised to change language that may be offensive to some, sparking accusations of censorship.

Some words related to weight, gender and race were omitted or replaced.

The “enormously fat” 9-year-old boy in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” became “enormous,” and the “Cloud-Men” from “James and the Giant Peach” became “Cloud-People.”

Britain’s Telegraph newspaper first reported the changes Friday, laying out the hundreds of changes Puffin Books, a division of Penguin Random House, and the Roald Dahl Story Company made to the books since 2020, even adding paragraphs never written by the late Dahl.

Award-winning author Salman Rushdie called the changes “absurd censorship.”

I read “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” dozens of times as a kid. I didn’t find anything offensive about it and fell in love with Charlie and his quirky grandparents. I enjoyed watching movies based on Dahl’s books like “Matilda.” I also remember when my son was young, he read every Dahl book at school.

This reminds me of the censorship of some Dr. Seuss books. I had taken a collection of Dr. Seuss books to the local thrift shop prior to moving. I wished I hung onto the books. I tried to buy some on Amazon and I got a letter from the book seller that they couldn’t sell the books to me or they’d face a lawsuit from some outside group.

What are your thoughts about the revised Roald Dahl books? Do you think it’s okay to update books with what’s acceptable in today’s culture, or should we leave literature alone?

45 thoughts on “Rewriting Roald Dahl

  1. I think this may be taking things a few steps too far. It’s one thing to move forward as a culturally aware author in 2023, writing for a broad range of the people who inhabit and read books, but changing/rewriting the written word put in place by past authors is changing history. You can’t change history. You can only learn from it, and hopefully do better moving forward.

  2. Dahl as a person wasn’t perfect , but no one is ! His books are some of the most clever and beloved books of all time . His stories defended children from the adults who treated them badly .

  3. No. No no a thousand times no. This is rewriting history and without people understanding an era bad things will happen again. Stop cancel culture, censorship or banning anything. Who decides the good words?

  4. I read this the other day too and thought it was terrible. How can they even say it’s his work and WHO allows these changes to his stories. Personally, I’m not a big fan of his stories. I’ve read a few and they are just not nice and tend to be mean. At any rate, his work should stay “AS IS!”

  5. The Dr. Seuss book removals were a decision of the company controlling his estate, with no outside mystery groups involved. I don’t agree with their decisions, but it’s their property.

    As for Dahl, they should leave his works alone. What they are doing is wrong. They can write their own books, since they think they know better.

    A Fat Guy

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