• Thursday, June 13, 2024

Penguin to Publish Unedited Version of Roald Dahl’s Books Post Criticism

Roald Dahl was hardly an angel, but this is outrageous censorship, wrote novelist Salman Rushdie on Twitter in response to the revisions that provoked an outcry from readers and literary luminaries.
on Feb 28, 2023
Penguin to Publish Unedited Version of Roald Dahl’s Books

Penguin Random House, the publisher, announced Friday that it would release "classic" unexpurgated editions of Roald Dahl's children's books in response to criticism of its decision to edit and rewrite portions of his works to make them more readable for contemporary readers.

Later, reprints of 17 of Dahl's books in their original form will be released alongside the new editions, which omit passages about weight, mental health, gender, and race. The latter will be marketed as "The Roald Dahl Classic Collection," so "readers will be free to choose which version of Dahl's stories they prefer."

Roald Dahl was hardly an angel, but this is outrageous censorship, wrote novelist Salman Rushdie on Twitter in response to the revisions that provoked an outcry from readers and literary luminaries. Rushdie has been recovering since being stabbed last summer, and the attempt "alarmed" PEN America, a nonprofit group that defends authors and free speech, according to CEO Suzanne Nossel.

Penguin Random House Children's managing director Francesca Dow said on Friday that the publisher "listened to the debate over the last week" before publishing the classic versions.

Augustus Gloop, Charlie's gluttonous foe in the 1964 film "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," was changed in the trimmed versions to be "enormous" rather than "enormously obese." Instead of working as a grocery clerk or a businessman's secretary, a supernatural lady disguised as a regular woman in "Witches" may be a "top scientist or leading a firm."

The Roald Dahl Story Company, which owns the book's rights, stated that it collaborated with Puffin to examine and edit the texts to ensure that "all children today continue to enjoy Dahl's beautiful stories and characters."

Although updating classic literature for contemporary tastes is not a novel trend in publishing, the extent of the modifications garnered sharp condemnation from free-speech organizations, readers, and writers.

The queen consort Camilla seemed to express her opinion on Thursday at a literary reception. Writers should "stay loyal to your calling, unhindered by others who may seek to stifle the freedom of your expression or set limitations on your creativity," she said.

With its naughty kids, weird animals, and frequently wicked adults, Roald Dahl's books have sold more than 300 million copies and are still being read by kids worldwide.

"Matilda the Musical" and two "Willy Wonka" films based on "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," with a third in development, are just a few of their numerous stage and screen adaptations.

Yet Dahl, who passed away in 1990, is also a contentious figure due to antisemitic remarks he made throughout his life. In 2020, his family expressed regret.

Netflix purchased the book rights from Dahl's estate in 2021 with ambitions to adapt the stories for a new generation of movies.

Taking care of young readers' imaginations and rapidly growing minds is both a luxury and a duty, according to Dow, who stated in a statement on Friday. "Roald Dahl's fascinating novels are typically the first story young children will read alone," Dow added.

The continuation of Dahl's famous works in print is important, too, Dow continued. "We are allowing readers to choose how they enjoy Roald Dahl's beautiful, marvelous books by making both the Puffin and Penguin editions available."

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