Well, that didn’t last long. On February 24th 2023, Sky News reported that Roald Dahl’s classics are to be kept in print after outrage over changes to his books. Originally, earlier in February, the Puffin sensitivity readers were told to take out any offensive content in Dahl’s books. I have recently written about this absurd situation in the New Conservative and many other writers have commented on this issue. It looks like the point has made it across to the publisher as it has made a U-turn.
In my article I stated: “It’s time to start collecting the old Roald Dahl books, and if you already have them, consider it a duty to keep them.” However, you will no longer have to run around the country like a maniac raiding Waterstones or W.H. Smiths to lay your hands on the original copies before they go. The unaltered versions of the books will be kept on the shelves alongside the edited versions. I do not understand why the edited versions must be kept on the shelves. Unfortunately, you will no longer be able to make a nice side-hustle from selling the original versions. To some extent, the censorship mob have won this battle.
It is not only writers who complained about the changes. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak joined the criticism, his spokesman saying that works of fiction should be “preserved and not airbrushed” and that the PM agrees with the BFG that we should not “gobblefunk” around with words. The Queen Consort Camilla also defended freedom of speech and the right of authors to express themselves, telling a group of writers “to remain true to your calling, unimpeded by those who may wish to curb the freedom of your expression or your imagination”. Such prominent interventions are welcome.
This debate should not have happened. It is plain stupidity and a step in the direction of making our world more like Orwell predicted in 1984. The fact that these books were made for children to enjoy shows that the censorship mob are desperate for the new generation to join them at a young age, before they can make choices for themselves. The average child is not going to care what gender certain characters are, like the Oompa-Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory who are going to become “small people” rather than “small men”, as they are too busy enjoying the book. I am glad, at least, that children will still have the original versions available, rather than the edited versions being all that they know. Moreover, parents will not have to go through the embarrassment of reading the edited books to their children. With any luck, the uncensored version will fly off the shelves while the woke versions pile up and, eventually, get pulped.
Jack Watson is a 14 year-old Hull City fan. You can subscribe to his Substack newsletter, Ten Foot Tigers, here.
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