My thoughts on the recent censoring and rewriting of Roald Dahl
🤦♂️Augustus Gloop now described as ‘enormous’ instead of ‘fat’.
🤦♂️Mrs Twit no longer ‘ugly and beastly’, but just ‘beastly’.
🤦♂️A new paragraph following the description of the witches being bald beneath their wigs which reads, ‘There are plenty of other reasons why women might wear wigs and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.’
🤦♂️’Aunt Sponge was terrifically fat / And tremendously flabby at that,’ becomes ‘Aunt Spiker was thin as a wire / And dry as a bone, only drier.’
Make no mistake, the very children Puffin Books are attempting to bubble wrap are being served the grossest disservice one can impose upon a child: a clamping down on their imagination.
There is much I restrain myself from saying in commentary of these nonsensical times we’re living through, but, as a writer, this I just couldn’t sit on.
It is sheer laziness to prune the words of perhaps the world’s most beloved children’s author of all the unsavoury words and phrases you deem unsuitable for these oh-so-noble modern times, instead of embracing the opportunity to discuss with your child the changing of language, the shifting of attitudes, and the historical context of the material to which they’re exposed.
Dahl was far from perfect. Guess what? Neither’s the world. Shall we remove the most reprehensible of historical episodes from history books to keep the minds of upcoming generations pure and untainted by the ugliness of reality? Like the body, the brain has its own immune system, a mechanism by which the mind may process and deal with the challenges and horrors to come. That immune system cannot be kept in an arid, disinfected cell, and must be exposed to the world as it truly is, not locked down by the perilous fear of adults possessed by the obsession of modern sterility.
We’re talking about the removal of the word ‘black’ from descriptions of evil tractors. Good and evil, day and night, light and shade, the known vs the unknown: these are associations old as time, and to impose your own racial hysteria on Dahl’s description of a murderous piece of farming machinery as ‘black’ is, frankly, more racist than your claim.
We’re talking about vilifying the word ‘fat’ and, bafflingly, claiming the word ‘enormous’ is better. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but being fat isn’t an evil state of existence, and your spotlight on the word only deepens the negative connotations associated with it. Also, I’m not sure why anyone would choose to be called ‘enormous’ over ‘fat’.
I could go on. I won’t.
The sensitivity readers hired by Puffin can keep their edited versions. We cannot allow arbitrarily selected individuals – all of whom slot perfectly and neatly into a given demographic and ideological leaning – to govern the moral spectrum by which we gauge good and evil.
Children are being born into a world torn by conflict, confusion, and – most of all – division. We should lay for these upcoming generations a sensible, compassionate path through these antagonistic and discordant times, but we must be careful that the path itself doesn’t become more treacherous than the surrounding madness.
Do share your thoughts and join the discussion via my social media channels. What do you think of the recent Dahl edits?
Thanks for reading ❤️