Roald Dahl books edited to remove words deemed offensive
Readers have been assured that the "sharp-edged spirit" of Roald Dahl's books remains though.
The latest editions of Roald Dahl's much-loved children's books have been altered to remove words that are deemed offensive.
At the beginning of the new editions, publisher Puffin says in a note that some text has been rewritten to ensure that Dahl's books "can continue to be enjoyed by all today."
The Roald Dahl Story Company, which manages the copyright of Roald Dahl's books and worked with Puffin to update the texts, assured readers that "the irreverence and sharp-edged spirit" of the original books had not been lost.
Dahl is one of the most successful authors of all time, having written children's classics such as Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach.
In total, he wrote 43 books, more than 20 of which were children's books, selling more than 250 million copies, according to WordsRated. However, some have said derogatory references to people’s physical appearances, as well as other characteristics, in Dahl’s work are not suitable for young readers.
As part of the process of altering the texts, Puffin and the Roald Dahl Story Company hired sensitivity readers from Inclusive Minds, a company that refers to itself as a "collective for people who are passionate about inclusion, diversity, equality and accessibility in children's literature."
The word 'fat' has been removed from all of Dahl's children's books, the Telegraph reports. For example, Augustus Gloop from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is now described as "enormous" instead of "enormously fat", while Aunt Sponge from James and the Giant Peach is no longer referred to as "the fat one".
Meanwhile, the Oompa-Loompas are now described as “small people” and descriptive words such as “tiny” and “titchy” no longer appear in the text.
As well as the above, the word 'ugly' has been removed, meaning that Mrs Twit from The Twits is just described as "beastly", as opposed to "ugly and beastly". "Crazy" and "mad" are also among the words that have been cut from Dahl's stories.
On top of this, the new versions of the books have changed how the author portrayed women. So, in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, instead of something being referred to as "not ladylike", the books now read "undignified".
Gender-neutral terms have also been introduced in the books so "mothers and fathers" have become "parents" and the "cloud-men" of James and the Giant Peach are now "cloud-people."
The move to alter Dahl's writing has been criticised by some, including British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
The Guardian reports that on Monday (20 February), Sunak’s official spokesperson said: “When it comes to our rich and varied literary heritage, the prime minister agrees with the BFG that we shouldn’t gobblefunk around with words.
"I think it’s important that works of literature and works of fiction are preserved and not airbrushed. We have always defended the right to free speech and expression.”