Imagine if a Gen Zer was tasked with 'sensitising' Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. This is exactly what's happening to 20th-century British novelist Roald Dahl's children's books including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
What's happening: The Daily Telegraph reported that Roald Dahl's children's books were being rewritten to fit into our 'progressive' or shall I say 'woke' society (in this case).
What are the changes? If you are wondering how bad the changes can be, check out this Twitter thread:
Roald Dahl, 2001 vs 2022 editions:— Incunabula (@incunabula) February 18, 2023
In Fantastic Mr Fox a description of tractors, saying that “the machines were both black”, has been cut. “Bunce, the little pot-bellied dwarf”, is now plain old Bunce. pic.twitter.com/I9aUxqAI6Q
In The Witches, the original line reads like this:
This line has been changed to:
Another one of the changes that were brought to Dahl's works includes this:
What the publishers have to say:
Why are the changes problematic? The changes don't seem to be 'small' and the language reviewed seems to be erasing the author's entire outlook towards the society and the times he lived in. If nothing else, it is the distortion of the original work by Roald Dahl, however, 'offensive' it may seem today.
Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PENAmerica, had this to say about the changes:
Those who might cheer specific edits to Dahl's work should consider how the power to rewrite books might be used in the hands of those who do not share their values and sensibilities. 3/13— Suzanne Nossel (@SuzanneNossel) February 18, 2023
How to sensitise children about the outdated language and views held in an age-old book?
If an editor, publisher or estate believes they must go beyond that, readers should be put on notice about what changes have been made and those wishing to read the work in its original form should have that opportunity. 9/13— Suzanne Nossel (@SuzanneNossel) February 18, 2023
If Puffin can take the liberty to make Roald Dahl's books more 'woke', someone might as well change history to review the language spoken by late British PM Winston Churchill when he said: I hate people with slit eyes and pigtails.