Penguin Realizes Vandalizing Roald Dahl Books Is A Bad Idea

Penguin Realizes Vandalizing Roald Dahl Books Is A Bad Idea

Penguin Realizes Vandalizing Roald Dahl Books Is A Bad Idea

Suddenly, vandalizing Roald Dahl books was a bad idea. Penguin issued a major mea culpa after worldwide backlash.

Before I get into the mea culpa, what was all the hubbub about? Well, a progressively woke group got together with Penguin’s subsidiary, Puffin and members of Roald Dahl’s estate. You see, some of the WORDS and PHRASES in his books were triggering and had to be changed in order to not hurt anyone’s feelings

The Roald Dahl Story Co. said in an emailed statement Sunday that the review of Dahl’s writing began in 2020 — before the works were acquired by streaming giant Netflix — and that tweaks were “small and carefully considered.”

The company said that it wanted “to ensure that Roald Dahl’s wonderful stories and characters continue to be enjoyed by all children today” and that the review was standard process. “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,” the statement said.

It is no longer ok to say someone is fat, but it is perfectly fine to call that person enormous. Talk about fence-straddling semantics! Oh, but there’s a great deal more. 

The modern editor of Dahl faces a dilemma: how to retain Dahl’s compelling spikiness, which has enthralled generations of readers, while bringing it in line with the hair-trigger sensitivities of children’s publishing.

Puffin’s overhaul is the result. While there have been tweaks before, there has never been an alteration on this scale. Take The Witches, for example, Dahl’s memorably unpleasant 1983 novel about a young boy growing up in a world ruled by a coven of secretive witches. A 2001 version of the text includes the following passage, about yanking women’s hair to check if they are witches. (In the story, witches are bald, and wear gloves to disguise their claws.)

Unsurprisingly given The Witches’ subject matter, many of the edits are to do with depictions of women. “Chambermaid” becomes “cleaner”. “Great flock of ladies” becomes “great group of ladies”. “You must be mad, woman!” becomes “You must be out of your mind!” “The old hag” becomes “the old crow”.

In all, there were over 59 textual changes to Roald Dahl’s books so that the readers (adults – not children) wouldn’t get their panties in a wad.

That’s right. The kids are reading the story. They aren’t reading word by word and then suddenly running for their safe space because the word “fat” or “giant” triggered them. Nope, this effort was undertaken by adults who need fainting couches if someone tells them no. 

National Review and others managed to find out who the group behind this vandalization is. The group is “Inclusive Minds.” And, just by that title you know that “inclusive” means progressive and woke. Which is exactly who they are. 

The organization’s mission is to make mainstream books “represent every child.” Guided by this mandate, the nonprofit enlists “sensitivity readers” and “inclusion ambassadors” to rid children’s stories of supposed stereotypes and derogatory connotations.

The ambassadors range in age from eight to 30 years old and are drawn “from marginalized, under-represented or misrepresented groups and backgrounds,” according to the Inclusive Minds website.


Reached for comment, a spokesperson for Inclusive Minds stressed that ambassadors are not mainly responsible for suggesting changes to existing works — a task reserved for sensitivity readers — but did acknowledge that they are occasionally involved in providing feedback.

“We do think those with lived experience can provide valuable input when it comes to reviewing language that can be damaging and perpetuate harmful stereotypes,” the spokesperson said, adding that ultimately publishers decide what to include in the final published text.

Lovely snowflake people aren’t they? Well, needless to say, the rewrites of Roald Dahl’s books finally got more of an outcry than even the rewrites or banning of Dr. Seuss books. Dr. Seuss books are to be banned because the characters are supposedly mean to other cultures. I guess banning is ok, but changing the text isn’t if woke sensitivity standards need to be met. Ok, NEITHER is ok and I’m glad attention was brought to this mess before more books are changed. 

The backlash garnered much more attention than Penguin had bargained for. When you have Britain’s Queen Consort Camilla utter a pointed smackdown during a major public appearance…

Now suddenly, the backpedal! Penguin will keep the new bowdlerized versions while reintroducing the “classic” versions of Dahl’s books. 

Just as with Dr. Seuss, Mark Twain, To Kill A Mockingbird, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and now Roald Dahl, the STORY is the thing. Changing the text or banning the book because of text within the book is vandalism pure and simple. 

Penguin Books has learned a partial lesson here. What they SHOULD have done is scrapped the revised version and kept the original version.

Agreed! Want to bet sales of the original writings go through the roof? 

Welcome Instapundit Readers!

Feature Photo Credit: Original artwork by Victory Girls Darleen Click 

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  • Cameron says:

    The censorship that they engaged in was to soothe the delicate feelings of grown men and women who have never read the books nor do they plan to. It’s time we stop being so accommodating to lesser people like that.

    • Scott says:

      I’d suggest “aged” men and women, as they obviously haven’t grown up at all… inside they’re still three year olds throwing temper tantrums

  • Citizen Tom says:

    I like what David Burge said. “Here’s an idea: instead of making sure old books are “suitable for modern readers,” how about making sure modern readers are suitable for old books.”

    What irked me the most is that the censorship fanatics accused Ronald Dahl of antisemitism. Too often the politically correct try to justify themselves by screaming “racism,” but the examples they gave — their quotes of Ronald Dahl — could have come from any Liberal trying to justify their support for the PLO instead of Israel. It was that lame.

    I am over seventy. I have enough experience to recognize language inappropriate for children. I have read some of Dahl’s books to my grandchildren, and they love them. Because they are imaginative, entertaining and funny, adults enjoy reading them to children. That makes it easy for us to do the right thing and read to our children.

    Here is some advice for the censors. You don’t like what someone else wrote or said? Then try to write or say something better. When we censor others, we don’t fix or repair anything. Instead, we perform an act as evil and inexcusable as any written words or speech we might condemn. If you cannot write or say something better, then don’t screw up the works of your betters.

    • Cameron says:

      “You don’t like what someone else wrote or said? Then try to write or say something better.”

      The Shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make: not real new things of its own.

      • Citizen Tom says:

        That seems to be the case. What has the Biden administration done right? Try asking that question of the people who voted for Liberal Democrats. They will spend more time trying to shift blame than trying to point to any accomplishments.

        • Cameron says:

          Hell, take a look at the LGBTOMGWTFBBQ community getting offended by the game Hogwarts Legacy. One group tried presenting a list of trans friendly games that looked like a bunch of middle schoolers trying to sell their first product.

  • George V says:

    Does anyone here remember “New Coke” and “Classic Coke”, back in the 1980’s? You could almost think that the Dahl estate cooked this up with the publisher to boost sales using the same method: Change a well-loved product, wait for the outcry to build, then go back to the “classic” version. But, naah, progs ain’t that smart.

    • Hate_me says:

      It appears Netflix purchased the Dahl Estate in 2021.

      While I’m not taking devious off the table, I’m more inclined to believe it was simply woke stupidity.

      Hanlon’s Razor cuts deep.

    • Royalidiot says:

      I’m not sure your example really applies to this. I remember the Coke fiasco, but it had nothing to do with anyones’ feelings. It centered on stupidity and the lesson learned the hard way that “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”….

  • Stephen C says:

    Half my youth was spent at the library roaming the stacks for salacious books. I would like to think I am a better reader for it.

  • Carol Marks says:

    OMG I am SO GLAD you did this. THANK YOU. I attempted it last week and found a link where a bald woman even wrote an article saying that it was a bad idea and where she gave The Witches example. I am so glad to hear they are backing down on this nonsense.

    • Cameron says:

      Getting them to back down is only the first step. Normal people have to stay on the offensive until these people learn their place.

  • NTSOG says:

    A bookshop in Sydney [Australia] reports selling a very large number of full collections of Dahl’s books with more originals on back order. People are rushing to get copies for their families and children before they disappear and are replaced by emasculated Woke versions. I guess Penguin never heard about Gillette’s attempt to be Woke.

  • Boobah says:

    OK, except that these edits can only be done (or not done) with the permission of the copyright holder, which isn’t Penguin. They’re just the publisher; Netflix owns Dahl’s literary estate.

  • alanstorm says:

    “Nope, this effort was undertaken by adults who need fainting couches if someone tells them no.”

    Minor quibble – should say “alleged adults” based on the behavior.

  • Brother Tim says:

    Here’s a thought…aren’t the woke denatured versions technically “derivative works”? Might some enterprising lawyer bring suit for fraud for Penguin passing off a derivative work as the original? One wonders…

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