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Therapeutic Totalitarianism Comes For Roald Dahl

'Sensitivity readers' helping to scrub children's classics of any non-inclusive, non-diverse verbiage
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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?:


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:


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.