Rishi Sunak adds his voice to the criticism of Roald Dahl's book revisions

Dahl, Roald

Following a heated debate over the removal of some references to things like characters' weight and appearance, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has criticized changes to Roald Dahl books.

The BFG and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, according to Dahl's estate and publisher, have been updated to be more appropriate for contemporary readers.

Some people declared that they liked the changes.

The spokesman for Mr. Sunak, however, stated that fictional works should be "preserved and not airbrushed.".

The prime minister agrees with the BFG that we shouldn't gobblefunk around with words when it comes to our rich and diverse literary heritage, the PM's spokesman said, borrowing a term Dahl coined for language play. ".

Author Sir Salman Rushdie is among those who have spoken out against the changes.

The author of Midnight's Children and The Satanic Verses wrote on Twitter, "Roald Dahl was no angel but this is absurd censorship.". "The Dahl estate and Puffin Books should be ashamed. " .

According to The Roald Dahl Story Company, any edits that resulted from its ongoing review process since 2020 were "small and carefully considered.".

According to Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials, Dahl's books "should be allowed to fade away" rather than being altered if they are thought to be offensive.

Pullman said, "Let Dahl go out of print if he offends us. Read the works of all these wonderful contemporary authors who don't get as much attention due to the enormous commercial gravity of people like Roald Dahl. ".

However, Debjani Chatterjee, a poet and author, thinks it is "very good that the publishers are reviewing his work.".

She remarked, "I think it's been done quite sensitively," to the BBC World Service. Consider the word "fat.". The word "enormous" was used. In fact, I believe that the word "enormous" is funnier. ".

  • The word "fat" has been eliminated from all books, and Augustus Gloop from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is now described as "enormous," according to the Telegraph.
  • Mrs. Twit, from the Twits, is now just "beastly," not "ugly and beastly.".
  • "A weird African language" is no longer strange in the same book.
  • The emphasis on mental health has led to the removal of the words "crazy" and "mad," according to the newspaper.
  • In Matilda, the threat to "knock her flat" has changed to "give her a right talking to.".
  • The BFG's coat is no longer black, and Mary now refers to herself in The BFG as "still as a statue" rather than "white as a sheet" in references to color.

There is no reason why the BFG shouldn't have a black cloak, according to children's author John Dougherty on BBC Radio 5 Live. Simply put, that is absurd.

And take Augustus Gloop, for example. The character's entire point is that he is extremely overweight because he can't stop eating and is greedy.

There could be a case made that that is offensive in today's society, Dougherty said. "If you're going to make that decision, I believe the only option is to stop printing the book. So let's change Dahl's words but keep the character, I don't think you can say. ".

Children's books should be handled with particular care, according to Kate Clanchy, an ex-teacher who revised her own memoir after receiving criticism for some of the descriptions.

"Augustus Gloop is a character who is greedy. Whether or not we make frequent references to how fat he is, which I think can be upsetting, he will still remain morally greedy and his moral greed will be wrong, she said to 5 Live.

Children's books have always been updated by us. It's a tribute to how these books are evolving into legends. that we've changed them once more. ".

The Sunday Times' deputy literary editor, Laura Hackett, declared that she would keep reading her original copies of Dahl's books to her kids in "all of their full, nasty, colorful glory.".

She told 5 Live, "I think the sort of the nastiness is what makes Dahl so much fun. Children love it when Bruce Bogtrotter in Matilda is made to eat the entire chocolate cake or when they are placed in the Chokey, a torture device.

The spirit of those stories would be lost if all references to violence or anything else unclean, nice, or friendly were eliminated. ".

Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka and Peter Ostrum as Charlie Bucket on the set of the film Willy Wonka andamp; the Chocolate Factory, in 1971
Movie adaptations of many of Roald Dahl's books have also been produced.

After being read by sensitivity readers who looked for potentially offensive material, the books were revised.

The Puffin Publishing Company and Inclusive Minds, a group promoting diversity and accessibility in children's literature, collaborated with The Roald Dahl Story Company on this project.

A representative for the Roald Dahl Story Company stated that the organization aimed "to ensure that all children today continue to enjoy Roald Dahl's wonderful stories and characters.".

"It's not uncommon to review the language used alongside updating other details, such as a book's cover and page layout, when publishing new print runs of books written years ago," the statement read.

The statement continued, "Throughout, our guiding principle has been to maintain the plots, characters, and the irreverence and razor-sharp spirit of the original text. ".

One of the most well-known children's writers in the UK, Dahl passed away in 1990 at the age of 74. In 2021, Netflix acquired the rights to Dahl's works.

But Dahl became a very troubling figure due to antisemitic remarks he made over the course of his life.

His family issued an apology in 2020, acknowledging the "long-lasting and understandable hurt" that Roald Dahl's antisemitic remarks had caused.

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