Roald Dahl’s books were revised to stop calling people fat as often
Reprints of classic 20th-century children’s books by British author Roald Dahl – such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, The Witches and Fantastic Mr Fox – have appeared edited and rewritten to remove language deemed offensive or potentially insensitive to modern sensibilities.
After comparing the new editions published by Puffin with previous versions of Dahl’s classics, the British newspaper The Telegraph found that the new versions removed or rewrote passages in which characters were labeled “fat”, “crazy”, “ugly” and “black”. “ were described.
Some references to ethnicity have been removed or adjusted – “Eskimos” are now referred to as Inuit – and gender-neutral terms such as “children” and “parents” have replaced some references to “boys and girls” and “mothers and fathers”.
The Telegraph cited before and after examples, including from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. A previous edition of the book described one character as follows: “The man behind the counter looked fat and well fed. He had big lips and fat cheeks and a very fat neck.” In the latest edition, these phrases have been removed entirely.
Other phrases related to obesity were also removed, such as B. “The fat around his neck bulged out like a rubber ring around the entire collar”; “Who’s the big fat boy?”; and “Huge, isn’t it?”
Many edits are more subtle: “the fat shopkeeper yelled” became “the shopkeeper yelled” and “the fat shopkeeper said” became “the shopkeeper said”.
Some Twitter users attacked the latest updates to Dahl’s books as “woke” and pointless. “What annoys me about the Roald Dahl changes is how stupid they are,” tweeted Anita Singh, Arts and Entertainment Editor at the Daily Telegraph. “A ban on the word ‘fat’ while retaining the rest of the description where Augustus Gloop is clearly fat.”
One of the most popular children’s book authors of the 20th century, Dahl died in 1990 at the age of 74, and in 2021 streaming service Netflix acquired Roald Dahl Story Co., which manages the rights to the author’s characters and stories. and who had already begun reviewing Dahl’s work alongside Puffin prior to the Netflix sale. Dahl’s books have sold more than 300 million copies worldwide, with translations into 63 languages.
“We want to ensure that Roald Dahl’s wonderful stories and characters continue to be enjoyed by all children today,” the Roald Dahl Story Co. said in a statement. “When releasing new editions of books written years ago, it’s not uncommon to review the language used while updating other details, including a book’s cover and page layout. Our guiding principle was to retain the storylines, characters, and irreverence and hard-edged spirit of the original text. Any changes made were small and carefully considered.”
Roald Dahl Story Co. spokesman Rick Behari added in an email that “overall changes are small, both in terms of actual changes made and overall percentage of text changed.”
Dahl’s work, like his life, has its disturbing moments and has long been the subject of updates, revisions, and apologies from other creatives striving to bring his art to a mass audience.
In the 1964 first edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Oompa-Loompas who helped Willy Wonka were originally described as African pygmies whom Wonka had “smuggled” in crates from Africa to live and work at his factory. Pressured by black actors and groups like the NAACP after the American civil rights era, the 1971 film made the Oompa-Loompas orange-skinned and green-haired. In a 1973 revision of the book, Dahl rephrased the Oompa-Loompas as white and fantastic instead of black and African.
In 2020, actress Anne Hathaway apologized for her portrayal of the Grand High Witch in Robert Zemeckis’ adaptation of The Witches, in which the character had three fingers, and angered disability advocates over a negative portrayal of limb differences. That same year, Dahl’s family apologized for his history of anti-Semitic remarks.
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2023-02-18/roald-dahl-sensitivity-edits Roald Dahl’s books were revised to stop calling people fat as often