Roald Dahl's publisher to offer books 'uncensored' after backlash

The uncensored versions will be offered alongside censored versions and readers will be able to decide for themselves whether to read the version written by author or the revised, inferior copies.

Joshua Young North Carolina

On Friday, Puffin, the publisher of beloved children's author Roald Dahl, announced they were releasing uncensored "classic texts" of Dahl's body of work through their parent company, Penguin, following backlash. That backlash, from PEN America, readers, and lovers of literature was against the publishing house for making hundreds of changes to the works after "sensitivity readers" deemed some of Dahl's original language offensive to modern readers.

According to the publisher's website, "Puffin announces today the release of The Roald Dahl Classic Collection, to keep the author’s classic texts in print. These seventeen titles will be published under the Penguin logo, as individual titles in paperback, and will be available later this year. The books will include archive material relevant to each of the stories."

On Twitter, Rachel Renee Reeves pointed out that "Speaking out against this stuff MATTERS" and the publisher's change would not have happened without public pressure."

The Managing Director of Penguin Random House Children's division, Francesca Dow, said, "We’ve listened to the debate over the past week which has reaffirmed the extraordinary power of Roald Dahl’s books and the very real questions around how stories from another era can be kept relevant for each new generation."

"As a children’s publisher, our role is to share the magic of stories with children with the greatest thought and care. Roald Dahl’s fantastic books are often the first stories young children will read independently, and taking care for the imaginations and fast-developing minds of young readers is both a privilege and a responsibility," Dow said. "We also recognise the importance of keeping Dahl’s classic texts in print.  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."

The change comes after the Telegraph published details last week on how Puffin consulted with Inclusive Minds, a "collective for people who are passionate about inclusion, diversity, equality and accessibility in children's literature," and subsequently made changes in the author's language regarding mental health, violence, gender, weight, and race that ranged from full portions being rewritten or cut. 

Examples included the Oompa Loompas from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory going from being called "small men" to "small people" and Augustus Gloop went from "fat" to being called "enormous." References to "mothers and fathers" were replaced with "parents" across all Dahl's books and some were affected more than others with 59 changes alone being made to The Witches.

Suzanne Nossel, the CEO of PEN America, an organization dedicated to freedom of expression, condemned the changes on Saturday.

"Beloved works have been withdrawn entirely out of concern for causing offense, a regrettable outcome that is rarely, if ever, justified," said Nossel. "The problem with taking license to re-edit classic works is that there is no limiting principle. You start out wanting to replace a word here and a word there, and end up inserting entirely new ideas (as has been done to Dahl's work)." 

Penguin announced the Roald Dahl Classic Collection will offer the author's books as originally published.

Dow added, "Roald Dahl once said:'‘If my books can help children become readers, then I feel I have accomplished something important.' At Puffin, we’ll keep pursuing that ambition for as long as we make books."


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