The rewriting of Roald Dahl’s books to remove words that are deemed offensive has been slammed as “woke madness” and a “creepy” act[by] our woke overlords”. Book publisher Puffin is reported to have hired writers to edit out words like “fat” and change the Oompa Loompas from being “small men” to “small people”.
It is understood that new editions of books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory won’t use the word “fat” and the character of Augustus Gloop will not be described as “enormous”.
Mrs Twit’s “fearful ugliness” has become just “ugliness” and Mrs Hoppy in Esio Trot is now a “kind middle-aged lady” instead of an “attractive middle-aged lady”, like she had been ever since the book came out in 1990.
Miss Trunchbull in Matilda was once a “most formidable female” but is now a “most formidable woman” and Roald Dahl’s original description of her as having a “great horsey face” is now just called “her face”.
Fantastic Mr Fox’s three sons have become daughters and there have also been changes to passages.
In The Witches, a paragraph describing them as bald under their wigs is followed shortly by a new line: “There are plenty of other reasons why women might wear wigs and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.”
That particular book is said to have had 59 changes, including a witch posing as a “cashier in a supermarket” who now works as a “top scientist”.
In response to the news, conservative commentator Nile Gardiner tweeted “Never ending woke madness”, later adding: “Roald Dahl goes PC in a world where no-one is ‘fat’ and the Oompa Loompas are gender neutral.”
Rob Marchant, a political commentator and former Labor Party manager, was equally enraged. He tweeted: “Think I can speak for many of us in saying to all publishers employing ‘sensitivity readers’, you can sod right off with your Orwellian Newspeak.”
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And English lecturer Andrew Imrie wrote: “This is rather creepy. Our woke overlords are censoring and rewriting Roald Dahl. It degrades art. It’s Orwellian. The richness of the language is one of the reasons children love books. Truly awful.”
Comedian and writer Ariane Sherine posted: “They’ve removed ‘fat’ and ‘ugly’ from Dahl’s books, FFS. Part of the joy is that kids aren’t meant to call people these things, so it seems wonderfully transgressive to read them. Books are meant to be entertaining, not nice. Yours, a fat and ugly person.”
Wales Online reports that the changes were made by book publisher Puffin and the Roald Dahl Story Company in conjunction with Inclusive Minds, which its spokesperson describes as “a collective for people who are passionate about inclusion and accessibility in children’s literature”.
Co-founder of the group Alexandra Strick said they “aim to ensure authentic representation, by working closely with the book world and with those who have lived experience of any facet of diversity”.
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A Roald Dahl Story Company spokesperson said: “We want to ensure that Roald Dahl’s wonderful stories and characters continue to be enjoyed by all children today.
“When publishing new print runs of books written years ago, it’s not unusual to review the language used alongside updating other details including a book’s cover and page layout.
“Our guiding principle throughout has been to maintain the storylines, characters, and the irreverence and sharp-edged spirit of the original text. Any changes made have been small and carefully considered.
“As part of our process to review the language used we worked in partnership with Inclusive Minds, a collective for people who are passionate about inclusion and accessibility in children’s literature.
“The current review began in 2020, before Dahl was acquired by Netflix. It was led by Puffin and Roald Dahl Story Company together.”