Words including ‘fat,’ ‘ugly’ and ‘crazy’ have been removed from Roald Dahl’s books, but the publisher said the ‘sharp-edged spirit’ of the original text has been maintained

From Business Insider:

The latest editions of Roald Dahl’s much-loved children’s books have been altered to remove words such as “fat,” “ugly,” and “mad,” The Telegraph first reported.

Roald Dahl, who died in 1990, is one of the most successful authors of all time. His 43 books — including more than 20 children’s books — have sold more than 250 million copies, according to WordsRated.

In a note at the beginning of the new editions, which The Telegraph cited, the publisher Puffin said some text had 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 collaborated with Puffin to update the texts, said that “the irreverence and sharp-edged spirit” of the original books had not been lost.

. . . .

Puffin and the Roald Dahl Story Company hired sensitivity readers from Inclusive Minds, which calls itself “a collective for people who are passionate about inclusion, diversity, equality and accessibility in children’s literature.”

The word “fat” has been cut from all of Dahl’s kids’ books, according to The Telegraph. Augustus Gloop, from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” is now simply “enormous” rather than “enormously fat.” Aunt Sponge, from “James and the Giant Peach”, is no longer “the fat one.”

The publisher has also removed the word “ugly.” Rather than being “ugly and beastly,” Mrs. Twit of “The Twits” is now simply “beastly.” The publisher has also cut terms such as “crazy” and “mad,” which Dahl used on numerous occasions.

. . . .

The new editions also try to modernize the books’ portrayal of women. The suggestion that something might be “not ladylike” has been switched to “undignified” in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

The publisher has also replaced references to “female” characters: In “Matilda,” Miss Trunchbull — once a “most formidable female” — is now a “most formidable woman.”

In “The Witches,” a paragraph explaining that the much-feared witches are bald underneath their wigs now adds: “There are plenty of other reasons why women might wear wigs and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.”

They’ve also opted for gender-neutral terms, where possible. “Mothers and fathers” has become “parents” and the “Cloud-Men” of “James and the Giant Peach” are now “Cloud-People.”

Link to the rest at Business Insider

3 thoughts on “Words including ‘fat,’ ‘ugly’ and ‘crazy’ have been removed from Roald Dahl’s books, but the publisher said the ‘sharp-edged spirit’ of the original text has been maintained”

    • A coming of age novel where an overweight boy faces the challenges of life in a society that too often overlooks the effects of bullying on marginalized groups.

  1. Puffin and the Roald Dahl Story Company

    Such a civilized age we live in. No one believes in Shakespearean curses any more — “cursed be he who moves my bones.” — So authors making posthumous curses upon the fiends who go 1984 on their stories probably won’t be heeded. And amongst the living, people no longer keep supplies of tar and feathers on hand. Puffin’s editors should count themselves fortunate.

    On a more serious note, I agree with Joyce Carol Oates that the adulterated editions of Dahl’s books need to be prominently branded as such. It would be interesting to see how their sales would be affected if customers knew from the start that these latest editions are the ersatz versions.

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