Roald Dahl's publisher responds to backlash by keeping 'classic' texts in print
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
Roald Dahl's publisher in the U.K. has responded to a fierce debate. The Puffin imprint had made changes to Dahl's original language for new editions of his books. Critics accuse the publisher of censorship. NPR's Elizabeth Blair has more.
ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: It all started when The Daily Telegraph reported that hundreds of changes had been made. In "Matilda," Miss Trunchbull no longer has a great horsey face. In "James And The Giant Peach," the cloud men are now cloud people. And in "Charlie And The Chocolate Factory," fat is no longer used to describe Augustus Gloop.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As Oompa Loompa, singing) What are you at getting terribly fat?
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (As Oompa Loompas, singing) What do you think will come of that?
BLAIR: Yeah, that song from the 1971 movie probably wouldn't make the cut. Puffin worked with the Roald Dahl Story Company and an organization called Inclusive Minds to remove words some of today's readers might find offensive. An affront to democracy, wrote one Telegraph reader. An exercise in priggish stupidity, wrote The Sydney Morning Herald. Dahl's publishers in the U.S., France and Holland said they would not carry the changed editions. And now Puffin says it'll just publish both versions, the edited and the originals. Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America, says the debate made a difference.
SUZANNE NOSSEL: We need to be able to read things, talk about things. The answer is not to silence and suppress. And if this debate over Roald Dahl reinforces that notion, it will have made a real contribution.
BLAIR: Roald Dahl has faced controversy before. His antisemitism and racism surface periodically. As Salman Rushdie put it, Dahl was no angel, but this is absurd censorship. Elizabeth Blair, NPR News.
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