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Puffin's censorship of Roald Dahl prompts fierce backlash

Puffin's censorship of Roald Dahl prompts fierce backlash

Controversy sparked as Puffin announces plan to rewrite Roald Dahl's children's books and remove offensive language.
20 February 2023 4:25PM

In a move that has sparked controversy, publisher Puffin has announced that it will be rewriting Roald Dahl's classic children's books to remove language that is now deemed offensive.

The decision comes after the publisher hired sensitivity readers to scrutinise the text, intending to make it "more inclusive" and "less likely to offend".

As a result, many of Dahl's colourful descriptions have been removed, and his characters described differently.

For example, in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Augustus Gloop is now described as "enormous" instead of "fat," and the Oompa Loompas are now referred to as "small people" instead of "small men." 

In James and the Giant Peach, Miss Sponge is no longer described as "the fat one," and Miss Spider's head is no longer described as "black." 

The Earthworm's "lovely pink" skin is now described as "lovely smooth skin." Additionally, gender-neutral language has been included.

In The Witches, a paragraph noting that witches are bald beneath their wigs has been altered to include a new line stating that there are many reasons why women might wear wigs. 

Similarly, a section that used to read, "Here's your little boy. He needs to go on a diet," has been changed to "Here's your little boy." 

In Matilda, Mrs Trunchbull's "great horsey face" has been changed to "face," and "eight nutty little idiots" now reads "eight nutty little boys."

The move has been criticised by those who argue that rewriting classic literature is a form of censorship.

Roald Dahl's books have been beloved by generations of children, and many feel that changing the text takes away from their historical and cultural significance. 

Critics argue that rewriting the books is an attempt to erase the author's legacy, rather than to acknowledge the flaws of the time in which they were written.

Puffin has defended its decision, saying that it is committed to creating books that are inclusive and respectful to all readers. 

While the debate continues, it remains to be seen whether the decision to rewrite Roald Dahl's books will have a significant impact on how they are received by a new generation of readers.