fbpx
Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Therapeutic Totalitarianism Comes For Roald Dahl

'Sensitivity readers' helping to scrub children's classics of any non-inclusive, non-diverse verbiage
Screen Shot 2023-02-20 at 3.52.20 PM

Above, Augustus Gloop, a right proper fatty-fatty fat-fat. You can't call him "fat" anymore, you bigot! Have you heard what Puffin, which holds the publication rights to Roald Dahl's books, is doing to them?:

Advertisement

Puffin has hired sensitivity readers to rewrite chunks of the author’s text to make sure the books “can continue to be enjoyed by all today”, resulting in extensive changes across Dahl’s work.

Edits have been made to descriptions of characters’ physical appearances. The word “fat” has been cut from every new edition of relevant books, while the word “ugly” has also been culled, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Augustus Gloop in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is now described as “enormous”. In The Twits, Mrs Twit is no longer “ugly and beastly” but just “beastly”.

Hundreds of changes were made to the original text – and some passages not written by Dahl have been added. But the Roald Dahl Story Company said “it’s not unusual to review the language” during a new print run and any changes were “small and carefully considered”.

In The Witches, a paragraph explaining that witches are bald beneath their wigs ends with the new line: “There are plenty of other reasons why women might wear wigs and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.”

In previous editions of James and the Giant Peach, the Centipede sings: “Aunt Sponge was terrifically fat / And tremendously flabby at that,” and, “Aunt Spiker was thin as a wire / And dry as a bone, only drier.”

Both verses have been removed, and in their place are the rhymes: “Aunt Sponge was a nasty old brute / And deserved to be squashed by the fruit,” and, “Aunt Spiker was much of the same / And deserves half of the blame.”

Nobody asked for this! This absurd violence to beloved works of literature. I was a Gloop-sized fatso when I first read Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, and I don't recall being aggrieved by it.

I'd say this author has the credibility to put behind his just and correct opinion:

If there is one profession in the world that should not exist, it's "sensitivity reader." What enemies of originality they are! If I am offended by Roald Dahl's calling Augustus Gloop fat, then I am welcome to not read the damn book. Why must all the edges be sanded off of everything to mollify the woke? Ben Sixsmith writes:

Advertisement

No one would deny that Dahl was a rather scabrous and even sadistic writer. But part of the fun of reading him, as a child, is grappling with the darkness — beginning to comprehend the shadows one has glimpsed around the world. These small-souled artistic vandals are flattening out those interesting quirks in the grip of a paralysing fear that someone, somewhere might read it and then take or give offence.

Here's what I don't get: these same woke commissars are insisting that our children should be able to read books about penis-sucking, cross-dressing, gender-switching and similar sex-mad things, but they are not allowed to read that Miss Trunchbull has a horsey face. Where is the logic in that?

This is another occasion for me to remind you to buy hard copies of the books you love the most. These days, I buy most of my books on Kindle, for two reasons: 1) books I need to read for research are instantly available there, and easier to use for note-taking in that format; and 2) I live in a foreign country where English-language books are not widely available. That said, if there's a book that means something to me, and I have read it on Kindle, I will buy a hard copy of it, to protect it from being removed from my electronic library, or subject to sensitivity editing, à la Dahl. You know, don't you, that Amazon can go into your electronic library and edit what's in it, right? It won't be long before any and all books are subject to this soft-Stalinist rewrite.

They're making the Oompa-Loompas non-binary. It's like a farce, but it's really happening! This therapeutic totalitarianism is not going to end any time soon. Take measures to preserve cultural memory in its face: buy real books.

Comments

Want to join the conversation?

Subscribe for as little as $5/mo to start commenting on Rod’s blog.

Join Now
Theodore Iacobuzio
Theodore Iacobuzio
Puffin is Penguin Random House. Bye bye. No more room on my shelves for these twerps. Pass it on.
schedule 12 months ago
Theodore Iacobuzio
Theodore Iacobuzio
eBooks have topped out at 20%. People still like turning paper pages. Just not Penguin Random House pages.
schedule 12 months ago
Fran Macadam
Fran Macadam
Western media conglomerates are now propaganda outlets. It's remarkable how totalitarianism mutates into various strains throughout humanity, a real example of a diabolical social virus.
schedule 12 months ago
Mark Robinson
Mark Robinson
The article, "The Strange Shipwreck of Robinson Crusoe" by Philip Zaleski, published in 1995 by First Things, is worth reading to understand editing of texts that occurred before the Kindle and Internet. I was inspired by the faith of Robinson Crusoe in the version I read as a boy. Little did I know that I was not reading the original unedited version and that the original was an even more inspiring Christian novel. Remakes of the Robinson Crusoe movies completely remove references to God. The modern movie, Man Friday, waters down the faith to have Robinson break free from his religious orthodoxy to "Worship any way you like as long as you mean it!"

https://www.firstthings.com/article/1995/05/the-strange-shipwreck-of-robinson-crusoe
schedule 12 months ago
Bogdán Emil
Bogdán Emil
"If there is one profession in the world that should not exist, it's "sensitivity reader." What enemies of originality they are!"

I agree with this. Don't censor the creative types. Anyone who has ever had their words scrubbed by a censor, their hard edges filed down by a well-meaning Big Brother, knows.

There is such a thing as self-censorship, however. For example, I'm not too keen on people abusing the privilege around here and too freely writing down the word "fuck" in its full glory, like I just did, which is a performative contradiction. I hate when that happens at TAC, except on those rare occasions when I don't hate it.

There is a hard truth here: the less you want to be censored, the more you will self-censor. The other word for it is self-control. A healthy tension involves muscles tensed and not relaxed, after all.

That's what people don't get about life, innit? When it's finely tuned, it's active and subject to entropy, which means: not comfortable.
schedule 12 months ago
    Zenos Alexandrovitch
    Zenos Alexandrovitch
    Meanwhile some AmCon writers are concerned with Russia being 1984 - total projection.
    schedule 12 months ago
Peter Kurilecz
Peter Kurilecz
Ensure your manuscript isn’t offensive, inaccurate, or perpetuating harmful stereotypes
https://www.ka-writing.com/cultural-accuracy-editing-sensitivity-reading/?
schedule 12 months ago
ncube7
ncube7
Communists hate individuality. When the PC goons rewrite a dead author's book to give him a more palatable voice, they are stealing his identity. It is a Marxist move to undermine individuality and it should be stopped. Unlike the Communists, we believe that people should have their own unique voice. That a person's unique voice deserves respect, even posthumously, through their writing. Children especially love Roald Dahl's sweet, sensitive and comical voice. He speaks to them and makes them laugh, even through the years. He certainly did for me. (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was my very favorite book.) He also connects children to a time gone by and dead family members, but perhaps that is the point. If the PC committee's goal is to dismantle the West, fragmenting relationships and memories is a great way to undermine a people. Committing cultural violence is their game, not ours. They are the colonizers, bringing Marxism to America.

Marxists are similar to the Orch's from Lord of the Rings. Their only goal is to "make more Marxists." It doesn't matter how they do it or what gets destroyed in the process. They simply want to make more Communists, like themselves. It is time for us to stop handing them the reins of power, to our society. They are not a tolerant people, this is why they want to control everything and everyone.
(Popper was right. You can't tolerate the intolerant, without losing your own tolerant society. When they rewrite Dahl, they are revealing their intolerance.)
schedule 12 months ago
    Bogdán Emil
    Bogdán Emil
    Yrch?! Only in elvish.

    In the common tongue, the word is "orc."
    schedule 12 months ago