The publisher of Roald Dahl books said Friday it will still publish uncensored versions of the author’s classic children books without scrubbing un-woke language from them after a firestorm erupted over changing the works.
Puffin Books partially walked back its plan to remove “insensitive” words such as “fat,” “ugly,” “crazy” and even “female” from the author’s pages.
“We recognize the importance of keeping Dahl’s classic texts in print,” the British publisher said in a press release. “We are offering readers the choice to decide how they experience Roald Dahl’s magical, marvellous stories.”
The publisher’s announcement came after backlash over its move to cut and alter references to gender, race and physical appearance in newer editions of Dahl’s books.
The company added, “We’ve listened to the debate over the past week… [There are] very real questions around how stories from another era can be kept relevant for each new generation.”
The Roald Dahl Story Company, which controls the rights to the books, said on Feb. 18 it would use so-called sensitivity experts to white-wash the tales with the help of Puffin.
Puffin tapped the experts to rewrite hundreds of sections of the late author’s texts — including passages from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “James and the Giant Peach” — to ensure his work won’t offend today’s woke audiences.
But observers were quick to slam it as censorship.
“Roald Dahl was no angel but this is absurd censorship,” acclaimed author Salman Rushdie wrote on Twitter. “Puffin Books and the Dahl estate should be ashamed.″
Suzanne Nossel, chief executive of the literature and human rights group PEN America, said the move snuffed out freedom of expression.
“If we start down the path of trying to correct for perceived slights instead of allowing readers to receive and react to books as written, we risk distorting the work of great authors and clouding the essential lens that literature offers on society.”
At writer’s receptions in the UK Thursday, King Charles’s wife, Camilla, also spoke out against the move — slamming “sensitivity gurus” who have altered Dahl’s books.
“Please remain true to your calling, unimpeded by those who may wish to curb the freedom of your expression or impose limits on your imagination,” she said. “Enough said.”
Dhal, who died in 1990, penned 49 books including gems such as “Matilda,” “The Witches” and “The Twits.”