Hence the Library

This bowdlerization of Roald Dahl’s books is one of the reasons we started Castalia Library to preserve books for the future. It’s why the bindery is going to prove absolutely vital in the years to come. And it’s why we should probably think about acquiring a printing press and sewing machine at some point in the future.

Roald Dahl’s children’s books are being rewritten to remove language deemed offensive by the publisher Puffin.

Puffin has hired sensitivity readers to rewrite chunks of the author’s text to make sure the books “can continue to be enjoyed by all today”, resulting in extensive changes across Dahl’s work.

Edits have been made to descriptions of characters’ physical appearances. The word “fat” has been cut from every new edition of relevant books, while the word “ugly” has also been culled, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Augustus Gloop in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is now described as “enormous”. In The Twits, Mrs Twit is no longer “ugly and beastly” but just “beastly”.

Hundreds of changes were made to the original text – and some passages not written by Dahl have been added. But the Roald Dahl Story Company said “it’s not unusual to review the language” during a new print run and any changes were “small and carefully considered”.

In The Witches, a paragraph explaining that witches are bald beneath their wigs ends with the new line: “There are plenty of other reasons why women might wear wigs and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.”

In previous editions of James and the Giant Peach, the Centipede sings: “Aunt Sponge was terrifically fat / And tremendously flabby at that,” and, “Aunt Spiker was thin as a wire / And dry as a bone, only drier.”

Both verses have been removed, and in their place are the rhymes: “Aunt Sponge was a nasty old brute / And deserved to be squashed by the fruit,” and, “Aunt Spiker was much of the same / And deserves half of the blame.”

References to “female” characters have disappeared. Miss Trunchbull in Matilda, once a “most formidable female”, is now a “most formidable woman”.

Gender-neutral terms have been added in places – where Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’s Oompa Loompas were “small men”, they are now “small people”. The Cloud-Men in James and the Giant Peach have become Cloud-People.

Puffin and the Roald Dahl Story Company made the changes in conjunction with Inclusive Minds, which its spokesperson describes as “a collective for people who are passionate about inclusion and accessibility in children’s literature”.

This is pure and unadulterated evil. It is erasure of the author from his own works. Unfortunately, it is something that we have come across in some of our communications with the literary heirs of authors whose views are not entirely harmonious with those heirs; for every Christopher Tolkien who defends his father’s legacy like a lion, there are three or four children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who are happy to sacrifice it on the twin altars of Mammon and political correctness.

It’s also why Castalia House supports Project Gutenbeg and the Unz Review’s Content Archive of Printed Periodicals and Books. If you want to help out, one of the most effective things you can do is subscribe to the Library; the current subscription book is THE ARTS OF WAR, edited by yours truly and featuring an introduction by Alexander Macris.