VIDEO: Roald Dahl’s classic books altered by publisher Puffin

UPDATED: On Feb. 24, Puffin Books released a statement announcing the publication of “The Roald Dahl Classic Collection,” which will preserve Dahl’s original texts. The collection will be published under the Penguin label and will grant readers everywhere the choice to read Dahl’s work as he intended — without bowdlerization.

For more than sixty years, Roald Dahl’s books have captured the imaginations of readers around the world. From Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to Matilda, Dahl’s works have become cornerstones of popular culture, defining the childhoods of generations of kids.

But soon, we’re all going to be reading a very different Dahl.

Recently, Puffin Books, Dahl’s publisher, hired sensitivity readers to review his books and make changes, sapping them of their style and substance.

One must wonder, “Whose sensitivities are being considered here?” Certainly not those of the countless people already criticizing these changes.

While Roald Dahl’s estate approves of the edits and has the legal authority to make them, they’re still deeply troubling.

Let the work speak for itself, so we can all speak freely about the work.

L.P. Hartley famously wrote, “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”

We should teach children that you can learn something new about people who lived in the past each time you read an older book. This will deepen their appreciation of the world, and show them that our own social and moral norms will look quaint and strange to future generations—no matter how right we think we are today. 

Literature is often provocative and eccentric. That’s what makes it interesting. Sanitizing books of anything potentially offensive strips stories of their meaning, restricts our access to the author’s imagination and perspective, and makes the world far more boring than it should be.

Let’s leave Dahl’s words the way he intended them to be read. Let the work speak for itself, so we can all speak freely about the work.


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