OPINION - Talking Point: Do you think that rewriting Roald Dahl’s books is censorship?

A number of Roald Dahl books have been edited to remove ‘offensive language’  (Nick Fewings / Unsplash)
A number of Roald Dahl books have been edited to remove ‘offensive language’ (Nick Fewings / Unsplash)

More than 30 years after his death, Roald Dahl’s books are going through changes to keep up with modern sensibilities.

Children’s loss” is the view of Standard writer Melanie McDonagh, as she detailed some of the edits: “The more we scrutinise the changes by the sensitivity readers (employed by almost every publisher), the worse they look. It’s not just that Augustus Gloop is no longer ‘fat’, just ‘enormous’. The readers have removed the adjectives ‘black’ and ‘white’ — you can no longer be ‘white’ with fear. They actively insert sentiments where they feel the author fell short: so where witches are described as bald beneath their wigs (a terrifying touch), they add, reassuringly, that there are other reasons why women might wear wigs and ‘there’s nothing wrong with that’. Thank you for that.”

A spokesperson for the Roald Dahl Story Company explained: “We want to ensure that Roald Dahl’s wonderful stories and characters continue to be enjoyed by all children today.

“When publishing new print runs of books written years ago, it’s not unusual to review the language used alongside updating other details including a book’s cover and page layout.”

The retrospective changes have not been met with universal approval.

Referencing some of Dahl’s own creativity, a spokesperson for Rishi Sunak expressed criticism: “When it comes to our rich and varied literary heritage, the prime minister agrees with the BFG that we shouldn’t gobblefunk around with words.

“It is important that works of literature, works of fiction, are preserved and not airbrushed.”

Do you think that rewriting Roald Dahl’s books is censorship? Tell us what you think in the comments or on our Instagram for the chance to be featured on the Evening Standard website.

Last week we asked: How do you feel about Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation announcement?

The topic divided readers, with some saying it was a good thing she’s not staying on as First Minister.

wokeup said in the comments: “Can’t think of a single politico that I would trust. She is no exception, yet managed for a while to escape the blame for the problems in Scotland occurring on her watch.”

On Facebook, Robert Law commented: “Should have happened long time ago.”

Peter West: “best news for ages.”

David Greenleaf: “When the going gets tough, she quits.”

Others were unhappy with the news.

SL46DW commented: “Great shame that she is going. She stood for the people of Scotland. In england we have a government that stands only for itself and to benefit fat-pigs and their bonuses.”

On Facebook, Rhoda Miller concurred: “Absolutely gutted and even more determined now to live in an independent Scotland.”

Jane Eagon: “Sorry to hear it. There are so few women who make it to the top in politics.”

Amanda Panda: “She talked more sense than a lot of those in Westminster.”

Ross Taggart: “Loss of a respected world leader. We have to few with integrity.”

Meanwhile, Derek Jarman suggested another explanation: “The things you have to do to avoid being invited to the Coronation in May.”