The publisher of bestselling children’s author Roald Dahl announced its plans to “review” the author’s works in order to change language that is considered by some to be offensive, thus sparking backlash from fans and critics alike.
According to CNN, the book publisher Puffin has inserted a disclaimer at the bottom of the copyright page of every new edition of one of Roald’s books, declaring that “words matter.”
“The wonderful words of Roald Dahl can transport you to different worlds and introduce you to the most marvelous characters,” the disclaimer reads. “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.”
The revisions in question were made based on the demands of a pro-censorship group called “Inclusive Minds,” which labels itself as “a collective for people who are passionate about inclusion, diversity, equality and accessibility in children’s literature, and are committed to changing the face of children’s books.” Dahl had previously been accused of making anti-Semitic comments during his lifetime, for which his estate issued a formal apology in 2020.
However, a review of the changes by the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph found that many of the words that were changed included harmless adjectives, including the words “fat” and “ugly.” Similar language was written or removed altogether that made any reference to a character’s race or mental health, as well as any references to violence.
In response to the censorship, acclaimed author Salman Rushdie came to Dahl’s defense, admitting that while “Roald Dahl was no angel, this is absurd censorship. Puffin Books and the Dahl estate should be ashamed.” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak quoted one of Dahl’s works to voice his opposition to the changes, saying that “when it comes to our rich and varied literary heritage, the Prime Minister agrees with the BFG that you shouldn’t ‘gobblefunk around with words.'”
Dahl, who passed away at the age of 76 in 1990, had written children’s books that sold well over 300 million copies and have been translated into at least 63 languages. Many of his works have since been adapted into successful feature films, including “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” “Matilda,” “The BFG,” and “James and the Giant Peach.”