Roald Dahl’s books being changed amid “cancel culture” scares

Some of Roald Dahl’s most beloved works are being heavily edited in their latest editions amid “cancel culture” concerns.

Last Updated on February 23, 2023

Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl doesn’t exactly scream controversy in the traditional sense, but it appears that a form of “cancel culture” is hitting the children’s book author by way of Matilda, Mr. Fox, Augustus Gloop, and many more.

The latest editions of several of Roald Dahl’s most beloved works contain a warning of sorts that reads: “The wonderful words of Roald Dahl can transport you to different worlds and introduce you to the most marvellous characters. This book was written many years ago, and so we regularly review the language to ensure that it can continue to be enjoyed by all today.”

The Telegraph has compiled dozens upon dozens of examples of the changes publisher Puffin has made, ranging from pronoun tweaks to complete character betrayals. Here are just a few examples of how Roald Dahl’s words have been altered or removed altogether:

“Matilda” (which recently had a filmed version of the musical released): the term “mother and father” has been combined into “parents”; “Shut up, you nut!” has been changed to “Ssshh! Not yet”; “Turning white” became “Turning quite pale”…

“The Fantastic Mr. Fox”: “…were driving their machines like maniacs…” has been tamed to “…were driving their machines with wild abandon…”; “You saucy beast” is now “You trickster!”; “She was very weak” has been removed altogether…

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (an origin story of which is coming): Wonka’s line “Follow these orders” is now “Follow these instructions”; “beating their tiny drums” has become “beating their drums”; most references to Augustus Gloop’s weight have been nixed, as have those to Mike Teavee’s toy guns, removing two key character traits…

Author Anthony Horowitz, who also has been forced by censors to alter his material, stated, “Children’s book publishers are more scared [of cancel culture] than anybody.” Judging by Puffin’s hatchet job (can we say hatchet anymore?), he’s not kidding.

According to Roald Dahl biographer Matthew Dennison, Roald Dahl cared far more for his target audience–that is, children–than he did adults. “‘I don’t give a bugger what grown-ups think,’ was a characteristic statement…And I’m almost certain that he would have recognised that alterations to his novels prompted by the political climate were driven by adults rather than children, and this always inspired derision, if not contempt, in Dahl.” (The term “bugger” was censored in the original article as it’s vulgar British slang but we’ll run it our way out of disregard to censors everywhere. Go to h-e-double-hockey-sticks!)

While Roald Dahl made his own alterations to his works prior to his death (see: the Oompa-Loompas), the Puffin-approved changes illustrate just how ridiculous censorship can get regarding children’s books.

How do you feel about the censorship against Roald Dahl’s work? Has “cancel culture” gone too far? Let us know your take in the comments section below.

Source: The Telegraph

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Mathew is an East Coast-based writer and film aficionado who has been working with periodically since 2006. When he’s not writing, you can find him on Letterboxd or at a local brewery. If he had the time, he would host the most exhaustive The Wonder Years rewatch podcast in the universe.