Sanity From a Surprising Place—French and Dutch Publishers Pointedly Refuse to Censor Roald Dahl – RedState

Sanity From a Surprising Place—French and Dutch Publishers Pointedly Refuse to Censor Roald Dahl – RedState

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As RedState’s Becca Lower reported on Saturday, British publishing house Puffin made the audacious (and utterly obnoxious) decision to change some of the prose in the works of one of the all-time-great children’s book authors, Roald Dahl, who penned such classics as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach and Matilda.

For me, the decision was a personal affront, as the effort seemed designed to take away some of my favorite memories—and prevent new kids from ever having them.

Thankfully, some sanity has prevailed in an unlikely place: the European continent. French and Dutch publishers are pointedly refusing to censor Dahl, with one executive saying that Dahl’s stories “lose all their power” when his words are changed.

Joris van de Leur, publishing director for Dutch imprint De Fontein, explained why:

Exaggerations are a figure of speech with him: if a person is fat, it represents gluttony and excess. Children understand what such literary hyperbole is. They really don’t think all fat kids are greedy.

Puffin’s “sensitivity gurus” have removed the word “fat” from Dahl’s books, along with a whole slate of other silly changes:

Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s books are being rewritten by sensitivity gurus to remove language they deem offensive, including creating a world where no one is ‘fat’ and the Oompa Loompas are gender neutral.

Publisher 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.

If Puffin were making these alterations because the works contained slurs or hateful language, I might understand—but they simply do not. In fact, it’s Dahl’s exceptional use of character descriptions that makes his books stand out.

Certainly, he often paints his villains in unflattering ways—because they’re villains! Puffin evidently wants us to be kinder to awful people.

The new language might be “nicer,” but it sure doesn’t lead to good literature. Van de Leur agrees:

Roald Dahl is the reason I came to work at this publishing house. His humour is second to none.

“Fortunately, we have the freedom to see what that means for our translations. We will be careful not to detract from Dahl’s humour,” he said, adding that he would be demanding an explanation for the revisions.

French publisher Gallimard, which has published historical greats including Proust and Camus, sniffed at the Brits as only the French can do: “This rewrite only concerns Britain,” they said in a statement. Furthermore:

We have never changed Roald Dahl’s writings before, and we have no plans to do so today. [Sniff.]

My question was and continues to be: Who had the gall to dare touch a great author’s books? Dahl has sold over 250 million copies of his works, but some woke junior flunkies in a cramped cubicle think they are somehow superior arbiters of taste? It’s mind-blowing.

As if raising a giant middle finger to Puffin, Dahl fans have created a run on his heretofore untouched printed works—and, according to online seller World of Books, sales for his books have shot up 600 percent. Ha!

Meanwhile, the actor who played the (trigger warning!) fat, greedy, obnoxious character of Augustus Gloop in the 1971 film version of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” thinks the censorship efforts are taking away life lessons from young readers:

Michael Bollner, now 64, said he did not find the characterisation cruel or politically incorrect and thought the story “shows you bad behaviours, like that kids should not watch TV and should not eat too much.

“These are good things, I think, so why stop children knowing about this?”

He’s absolutely right—Dahl wasn’t making his villainous characters unsavory in order to humiliate people; he was trying to show children how not to be.

I never thought I’d say this—but thank God for the French and the Dutch.

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