Following heavy criticism surrounding the decision to alter children’s books by Roald Dahl, Puffin books will publish both the original version as well as a separate, altered version of the books.
According to a statement from Penguin Random House, whose children’s imprint publisher Puffin Books publishes Roald Dahl’s children books,
“By making both Puffin and Penguin versions available, we are offering readers the choice to decide how they experience Roald Dahl’s magical, marvellous stories.”— Penguin Random House
The original texts will be released as The Roald Dahl Classic Collection, which includes 17 titles published under the Penguin logo and will be available later this year. The collection will sit alongside the newly released, edited version for young readers, which are “designed for children who may be navigating written content independently for the first time.”
The Altered Versions
In altered versions of the books, words like ‘fat’ and ‘ugly’ have been removed. Augustus Gloop in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will now be referred to as ‘enormous’ instead of ‘fat,’ while Oompa Loompas are ‘small people’ instead of ‘small men.’
The push for more inclusive language was made by an organization called Inclusive Minds, who have revised and edited the books. Language relating to gender, race, weight, and mental health have been removed or revised in the altered versions.
The decision to alter the books was met with strong backlash in the literary world and beyond. Renowned author Salman Rushdie — who has been heavily criticized for his novel The Satanic Verses — called the revisions “absurd censorship.”
“Rewriting novels — like efforts to rewrite history — has origins in authoritarian playbooks,” PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said in a statement, “We need to learn from the perspective of the past, not eliminate viewpoints we no longer accept.”
Dahl, who died in 1990, remains one of the U.K.’s most popular children’s authors. Still, his antisemitic comments made him a highly controversial and problematic figure, for which his family publicly apologized for several years later.
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