Roald Dahl Book Revisions
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Roald Dahl Book Revisions, also known as Roald Dahl Rewritten Books and Roald Dahl Book Edits, refers to various adaptations made to the works of the late British novelist Roald Dahl, known for authoring many best-selling children's books, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches, James and the Giant Peach and Matilda. The language in his books was edited by the publisher Puffin after being reviewed by sensitivity readers, which aimed to make the books better suited for modern audiences. Edits included replacing or removing words like "ugly" and "fat" from the novels or deleting entire passages that could be seen as offensive. After the changes were publicized in mid-Februrary 2023, discussions and debates erupted online between those who argued in favor of the edits as a positive change to reflect modern sensibilities and others who criticized the move as posthumous censorship of the author's work.
On February 17th, 2023, the conservative British newspaper The Telegraph published an article titled "The Rewriting of Roald Dahl," which reviewed changes made by Puffin to 10 of Dahl's books. The Telegraph led with the headline "Augustus Gloop is no longer fat and the Oompa-Loompas have gone gender-neutral" in posts made to its Twitter account on February 17th.
Part of the article included multiple charts that showed original words and phrases in Dahl's various books compared to the edits made in the 2022 editions (examples shown below).
On February 17th, 2023, a link to the Telegraph article titled "The hundreds of changes made to Roald Dahl's books to suit a new 'sensitive' generation" was submitted to /r/books, where it gathered more than 7,900 points and 2,600 comments within 72 hours. On February 18th, a post titled "Roald Dahl books rewritten to remove language deemed offensive" was then submitted to /r/UnitedKingdom, gaining upwards of 1,400 points and 1,700 comments within 24 hours.
That day, LA Times reporter Matt Pearce posted a tweet remarking that Dahl has "periodically needed, um, revision," accompanied by a passage about the edits Dahl made to descriptions of Oompa Loompas in the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (shown below, left). The same day, author Salman Rushdie posted a tweet stating that Dahl "was no angel," but that the edits were "absurd censorship" (shown below, right).
Others on Twitter started threads about The Telegraph article and its contents, such as Twitter user @incunabula whose primary tweet received roughly 12,700 likes in two days and included a screenshot of one of the "before-and-after editing" charts present in the article. Twitter user @incunabula's thread continued with multiple charts screenshotted from the article.
Although many were critical of the 2022 revisions, others demonstrated more nuanced takes that acknowledged Dahl as problematic but that Puffin's revisions were also unnecessary. For instance, on February 18th, 2023, Twitter user @AliceAvizandum tweeted:
I will say, by way of cancellation, that I was heavily into Roald Dahl books as a kid and he is the perfect children’s author for Britain because he will absolutely give you a bunch of sinister little prejudices under a cloak of niceness
The tweet received roughly 3,100 likes in one day (shown below, left). Some were blunter with their nuanced takes, such as Twitter user @rblandford on February 18th who tweeted, "Keep Roald Dahl books as they are but have a little note at the beginning explaining that he was a cunt," and received roughly 27,500 likes in one day (shown below, right).
Roald Dahl Story Company Response
On February 18th, 2023, Rolling Stone published an article titled "Roald Dahl's Children's Books to Republish With Offensive Language Removed," which included a statement from a spokesperson for the Roald Dahl Story Company:
"When publishing new print runs of books written years ago, it’s not unusual to review the language used alongside updating other details including a book’s cover and page layout. Our guiding principle throughout has been to maintain the storylines, characters, and the irreverence and sharp-edged spirit of the original text. Any changes made have been small and carefully considered."
News Media Coverage
On February 18th, 2023, the AV Club published an article titled "Fans react to publisher efforts to edit in a kinder, gentler Roald Dahl," which reported that Dahl himself had changed descriptions of the Oompa-Loompa characters as African pygmies in the first edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the 1970s, after being persuaded by a statement from the NAACP.
 The Telegraph – The Rewriting of Roald Dahl:
 Reddit – /r/unitedkingdom
 Rolling Stone – Roald Dahls Children’s Books to Republish With Offensive Language Removed
 AV Club – Fans react to publisher efforts to edit in a kinder gentler Roald Dahl
 The Guardian – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory hero was originally black
 Twitter – @SalmanRushdie
 Twitter – @mattpearce
 Twitter – @Telegraph
 Twitter – @incunabula
 Twitter – @AliceAvizandum
 Twitter – @rblandford
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Feb 19, 2023 at 02:32PM EST
Feb 19, 2023 at 12:45PM EST
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