Pullman, Inclusive Minds, Changes to Children’s Books: A Statement of Insensitivity to “His Dark Materials” Novelties and “The Witches”
Philip Pullman, the acclaimed author of the “His Dark Materials” fantasy series, took a somewhat different approach to the news. While he did not express support for the changes, he told BBC Radio 4’s “Today” show on Monday that Dahl’s books should be left to “fade away.”
The author of many children’s books and stories died in 1990 at the age of 74. Some of his books were turned into classic movies. His book Matilda was just recently made into a musical film for Netflix and premiered last year.
The author’s estate apologized for his antisemitic comments in 2020 as they have long been regarded as controversial.
The group of people who are committed to changing the face of children’s books are known as Inclusive Minds, and they have worked on these revisions.
In a lengthy report published on Saturday, British newspaper The Daily Telegraph revealed that it had found hundreds of changes across the author’s many children’s books. Close analysis by its journalists revealed that language relating to gender, race, weight, mental health and violence had been cut or rewritten. This included removing words such as “fat” and “ugly,” as well as descriptions using the colors black and white.
Journalists working on the piece found 59 changes in “The Witches” alone, with hundreds more discovered in Dahl’s other popular books, such as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Matilda.”
Rushdie’s book “The Satanic Verses” and the role of the Roald Dahl Story Company in censoring children’s books
Rushdie, 75, is no stranger to the debate around censorship. Following the release of his 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses,” the then-Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for the his death. The author lost the sight in his right eye after being attacked in New York last year.
When asked at a press briefing on Monday whether it is right to censor children’s books, Sunak’s spokesperson employed Dahl’s own terminology, saying: “When it comes to our rich and varied literary heritage, the Prime Minister agrees with the BFG that you shouldn’t ‘gobblefunk around with words.'”
The spokesperson added that “it’s important that works of literature and fiction are preserved and not airbrushed,” and said: “We’ve always defended the right to free speech and expression.”
In a statement sent to CNN, the author’s estate, the Roald Dahl Story Company , explained that the current review with Puffin, and in partnership with Inclusive Minds, began in 2020 — the year before Dahl’s works were acquired by Netflix.
She said the organization was “worried” about the changes, which had been made in an effort to scrub the books of that which might offend someone.
She wrote: “If we start down the path of trying to correct for perceived slights instead of allowing readers to receive and react to books as written, we risk distorting the work of great authors and clouding the essential lens that literature offers on society.”
It was highlighted that millions of older editions are still being used in schools, libraries and second-hand stores.
Augustus Gloop, the character in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, isn’t fat anymore. He is described as “enormous” by The Telegraph.
Why are women bald under their wigs? Some comments on Dahl’s “Wiseness is bald underneath its wig”
Further, the changes to these books include adding language not originally written by Dahl. In his 1983 book The Witches, he writes that witches are bald beneath their wigs. According to The Telegraph, an added line in new editions says, “There are plenty of other reasons why women might wear wigs and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.”