The works of famed children’s author Roald Dahl – who wrote such classics as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Matilda,” “James and the Giant Peach,” and “The BFG” – are now being altered by their publisher to make them more “inclusive, diverse and accessible” so they do not “offend” people, with “hundreds” of changes reportedly being made, a move that has been condemned as blatant censorship by many.
The Roald Dahl Story Company said it worked with publisher Puffin Books and the group Inclusive Minds to make the “small and carefully considered” changes, saying that the purpose was to make sure “Dahl’s wonderful stories and characters continue to be enjoyed by all children today.”
Among the plethora of changes to Dahl’s books include the character Augustus Gloop from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” being described as “enormous” instead of “enormously fat,” Mrs. Twit from “The Twits” now being “beastly” instead of “ugly and beastly,” in “The BFG,” the word “black” is now consistently replaced by “dark,” and in “Matilda” “mothers and fathers” has become “parents.”
Entire sentences have also been removed outright, including the following from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” that described a child playing with toy guns:
“Mike Teavee himself had no less than eighteen toy pistols of various sizes hanging from belts around his body, and every now and again he would leap up into the air and fire off half a dozen rounds from one or another of these weapons.”
“The Oompa-Loompas spent every moment of their days climbing through the treetops,” has also been removed from the same book.
In response to the changes, noted author Salman Rushdie tweeted that “Roald Dahl was no angel but this is absurd censorship. Puffin Books and the Dahl estate should be ashamed.”
Suzanne Nossel, the CEO of PEN America, a group dedicated to literature and human rights, tweeted that the organization is “alarmed” at the changes.
“At @PENamerica we are alarmed at news of “hundreds of changes” to venerated works by @roald_dahl in a purported effort to scrub the books of that which might offend someone,” she said. “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.”
“In some cases, including Dr. Seuss books, beloved works have been withdrawn entirely out of concern for causing offense, a regrettable outcome that is rarely, if ever, justified,” she added.