From The Wall Street Journal:
My late father-in-law detested vague or imprecise language. “Don’t tell me you saw a person,” went his typical complaint. “What kind of person was it? A man or a woman? Tall or short? Old or young?”
He, like his contemporary Roald Dahl, came from an era when people valued clarity in speech and writing and believed words should reveal meaning rather than conceal it. Puffin Books has made the passing of that era obvious by subjecting Dahl’s books to a ghastly process of social-justice blandification.
The Telegraph reports that Puffin functionaries and hired “sensitivity readers” have combed through Dahl’s works for children—including whizbang novels such as “Matilda,” “The Twits,” and “James and the Giant Peach”—and cut all references to fatness, craziness, ugliness, whiteness (even of bedsheets), blackness (even of tractors) and the great Rudyard Kipling, along with any allusion to acts lacking full and enthusiastic consent. Some male characters have been made female; female villains have been made less nasty; women in general have been socially elevated; while mothers and fathers, boys and girls have dwindled into sexless “parents” and “children.”
Dahl, who died in 1990, didn’t agree to these changes—consent came from Netflix, which bought Dahl’s estate in 2018. Many of the edits reveal a total failure to understand why children love the spiky and opinionated British writer and why they gobble his stories as fast as his porcine characters eat sweets. Dahl’s writing flashes with menace and tenderness; it’s funny, exciting and unpredictable.
Like all the most enduring stories for children, Dahl’s are odd and original. They stir the mind, disquiet the spirit, and stimulate the imagination. To read “Peter Pan” or “Alice in Wonderland” is to plunge into a fever dream; to read Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is to careen through a fantastical landscape full of greedy youngsters (and indulgent adults) who meet bizarre and terrible fates. Stripping away the weirdness expunges the magic.
Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal