Child, that is not said, that is not done, that now that is not read either. Woke censorship has come with all its arsenal of prejudices to the work of Roald Dahl, one of the favorite authors of children’s literature. The publisher Puffin Books, owned by Penguin Random House, has carried out a “review” of Dahl’s classics to ensure that the books are suitable “for the enjoyment of all minors”, eliminating references considered controversial regarding weight or the physical appearance of the characters (eradicating adjectives like “fat” or “ugly”), mental health, violence, gender and race. For Spanish-speaking territories, Penguin House has reported that they have not made any such change.
Child, forbidden to read “evil woman”, “mad woman”, “old hag”, “fat boy”, “crazy”. Child, forbidden to read caricature descriptions even of witches or other imaginary beings. Child, forbidden to read that “in Baghdad they cut off heads” or that the turtles that arrive in England come from North Africa.
British newspaper The Daily Telegraph has published a huge list of the terms that the publisher has deleted or altered in Dahl’s work. Netflix is the current owner of the works after having bought the Roald Dahl Story Company for $686 million in 2021. Reviewing the hundreds of changes, the conclusion is the same as always, treat the reader like an idiot who can’t tell the difference between fact and fiction.
fact and fiction
Have these people played five minutes with a child? It doesn’t take much longer to understand that they, too, know how to distinguish between reality and fiction from a very young age. It is precisely the transgression of the rules, which should already have been internalized by the family and the school, which is so much fun for them. If they laugh at “poop, ass, fart, pee” it is because they fully understand that these are words that they should not say in certain contexts. Just as many children will smile when they read a character call another “old cow” or “fat”, two of the terms shot by the English publisher.
It is even embarrassing to have to type these arguments but the censorship wave seems to have no end. From the one who is scandalized with monologues of black humor imagining that the joke of the moment is going to become a political slogan that is going to revive the phobia and the -ism of the moment. The one who believes that video games are factories for serial killers and porn for gang rapists. For consistency, everyone who a year ago was defending Will Smith’s attack on Chris Rock at the Oscars should also be happy.
SBritish authors such as Salman Rushdie have spoken about Dahl’s controversy, for whom defending freedom of expression has literally cost him an arm and a leg and a lifetime of threats. The author of satanic verses He called the operation “absurd censorship” for which the publisher and the family “should be ashamed.” He has also been criticized by the British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, through a spokesman: “It is important that works of literature and works of fiction be preserved and not edited.” “We have always defended the right to free speech and expression.”
In the meticulous work carried out by the English milieu, a certain obsession with terms related to mental health is observed, “madness” and its variants are systematically crossed out and reformulated. As well as with any unpleasant or insulting physical description. In The witchesthere are changes that become disconcerting, first replacing “filthy old cow” with “monster”, and then “monster” with “horrible woman”. With other alterations, one comes to wonder what kind of prejudice has in mind the one who decides to censure that the turtles of Agu Trot they came “from North Africa” to end up rewriting that they came from “many different countries”. As it happens in so many cases like this, the censor ends up discovering his prejudices.
We have only analyzed the possible impact of the work on children, but the biggest outrage is the desecration of the work itself, eliminating passages and completely altering others. It terrifies the length of the list with suppressed expressions. Editorial and rights owners have not hesitated to destroy the grotesque descriptions of witches, let’s emphasize witches! Thus, they have mutilated entire paragraphs that describe witches with scabs, pimples, baldness… or with “gums were raw meat”. To what extent is it legitimate to so seriously alter the work of a deceased author? Dahl himself rectified in life some characters such as the Oompa-Loompas of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that originally they were black pygmies, and ended up being white beings and any reference to Africa was eliminated to avoid similes with slavery.
The result of the current edition are poorer stories from a literary point of view with fewer references and descriptions, in search of a sterile tale of characters without attributes in aseptic environments. Let’s hope that history ends up looking at them as we now look at the Puritans who plastered the nudes of the Renaissance or the Francoists who crossed out chapters and prohibited works. censors.