US, UK, book lovers concerned over ‘censorship’

FILE – Books by Roald Dahl are displayed at the Barney’s store on East 60th Street in New York on Monday, Nov. 21, 2011. Critics are accusing the publisher of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s books of censorship after it removed colorful language from stories such as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Matilda” to make them more acceptable to modern readers. (AP Photo/Andrew Burton, File)

(NewsNation) — British author Roald Dahl’s books have sold more than 300 million copies and been read by children around the world.

But now, new editions of Dahl’s books in the United Kingdom were recently rewritten to make them more inclusive, news outlets reported. The New York Times reports that these changes, however, have gotten “widespread criticism,” not only from literary figures but also politicians such as British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Passages in the books related to weight, mental health, gender and race were changed.

For instance, Augustus Gloop, who was initially described as enormously fat, is now just called “enormous.”

The “cloud men” in “James and the Giant Peach” are now “cloud people.”

NewsNation reached out to the books’ British publisher Puffin Books for comment, but didn’t hear back.

“If this was editing done by an author, that would be different, but the fact that a third party is coming in and literally re-writing the work of someone else is a very dangerous precedent to set,” Mitchell Kaplan, who owns Books and Books in Miami, Florida, said.

Author Salman Rushdie wrote on Twitter that Roald Dahl “was no angel, but this is absurd censorship.”

Dahl died in 1990 at the age of 74. His books have been translated into 68 languages.

But Dahl is also a controversial figure because of antisemitic comments made throughout his life, which his family later apologized for.

It is unclear whether new copies of Dahl’s books published in America will have the same changes.

The question of whether literary changes have gone too far is one people have been asking in the U.S. as well, as some school districts across the country are removing books from libraries.

A video taken in a Florida school by substitute teacher and parent Brian Covey shows empty bookshelves in the library. Covey says he was told that every single book was taken away, and that they had to be removed or covered with construction paper taped over it.

“I couldn’t believe this was my kids’ reality,” Covey said.

Covey posted this video on Twitter a few months after House Bill 1467 took effect in Florida. The law mandates that books be selected and evaluated by a media specialist.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called Covey’s video “politics” and a “false narrative,” but concern over censorship is still present over this law and others like it.

The non-profit organization PEN America in 2022 said there are 22 states with book bans. Book lovers fear it’s a dangerous trend.

“The more widespread threat is what’s happening in our schools and our libraries,” Kaplan said. “It’s state censorship.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


© 1998 - 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. | All Rights Reserved.

Trending on NewsNation