Less than a week after a woke publisher announced it had been working with equity consultants to modernize classic British children’s stories beloved the world over, blowback was strong and swift enough to force them to reconsider.
Earlier this week, the Roald Dahl Story Company had announced upcoming edits to timeless titles such as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Matilda,” “James and the Giant Peach,” and “The BFG” which were to include changes to the text to be more inclusive of today’s readership.
“The wonderful words of Roald Dahl can transport you to different worlds and introduce you to the most marvelous characters,” a statement from Puffin read upon announcing the changes it was proposing. “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.”
People magazine wrote about some of the major textual changes being offered by the woke company and its equity team.
The report compared 2001 editions of Dahl’s children’s books to the 2022 editions, with some changes taking place throughout many of his works. For example, the word “fat” is no longer used in 1978’s The Enormous Crocodile, 1961’s James and the Giant Peach, 1980’s The Twits, and 1983’s The Witches. Augustus Gloop, once referred to as a “fat” character from the classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory story is now simply “enormous.”
Previous editions of James and the Giant Peach feature the Centipede singing, “Aunt Sponge was terrifically fat / And tremendously flabby at that,” and, “Aunt Spiker was thin as a wire / And dry as a bone, only drier.” Both of those lines have been removed entirely in favor of the following: “Aunt Sponge was a nasty old brute / And deserved to be squashed by the fruit,” and, “Aunt Spiker was much of the same / And deserves half of the blame.”
Similarly, the word “ugly” was scrapped from select Dahl titles, the publication reports. In The Twits, Mrs. Twit is now no longer “ugly and beastly” but simply a “beastly” character.
Thankfully, sanity prevailed and Puffin, the publisher for Roald Dahl’s collection of classics, announced it would now be releasing each of the aforementioned titles, and others, in their original texts.
“At Puffin we have proudly published Roald Dahl’s stories for more than forty years in partnership with the Roald Dahl Story Company,” said Francesca Dow, managing director of Puffin’s parent company Penguin Random House.
“Their mischievous spirit and his unique storytelling genius have delighted the imaginations of readers across many generations. 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.”
“As a children’s publisher, our role is to share the magic of stories with children with the greatest thought and care. Roald Dahl’s fantastic books are often the first stories young children will read independently, and taking care for the imaginations and fast-developing minds of young readers is both a privilege and a responsibility.
“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,” the statement concluded.
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