“Owners of Roald Dahl ebooks are having their libraries automatically updated with the new censored versions containing hundreds of changes to language related to weight, mental health, violence, gender and race,” reports the British newspaper the Times. Readers who bought electronic versions of the writer’s books, such as Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, before the controversial updates have discovered their copies have now been changed.
Puffin Books, the company which publishes Dahl novels, updated the electronic novels, in which Augustus Gloop is no longer described as fat or Mrs Twit as fearfully ugly, on devices such as the Amazon Kindle. Dahl’s biographer Matthew Dennison last night accused the publisher of “strong-arming readers into accepting a new orthodoxy in which Dahl himself has played no part.”
- Dahl’s publisher earlier announced they’d also resume publishing original versions of Dahl’s novels “before the end of the year,” reports the BBC.
- The Telegraph notes that when he was alive, Dahl himself “threatened to never write another word if his publishers ever changed his language, promising to send his ‘Enormous Crocodile’ to gobble them up if they did so.”
- A New York Times opinion writer adds that “the changes to Dahl’s texts first began to appear more than a year ago without attracting any significant attention until now.”
- Children’s book author Frank Cottrell-Boyce admits in the Guardian that “as a child I disliked Dahl intensely. I felt that his snobbery was directed at people like me and that his addiction to revenge was not good. But that was fine — I just moved along.”
But Cottrell-Boyce’s larger point is “The key to reading for pleasure is having a choice about what you read” — and that childhood readers faces greater threats. “The outgoing children’s laureate Cressida Cowell has spent the last few years fighting for her Life-changing Libraries campaign. It’s making a huge difference but it would have a been a lot easier if our media showed a fraction of the interest they showed in Roald Dahl’s vocabulary in our children.”
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