When the news first broke last week that Penguin Random House’s Puffin imprint, with the blessing of Roald Dahl’s estate, were republishing non-offensive, cleansed versions of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s stories, I was pissed. Actually “pissed” is an understatement. I was effing furious. I had grown up on Dahl’s stories and to this day he remains my very favorite author in the world.

To be clear, I am well aware that Dahl as a person was pretty terrible. He was racist and antisemitic and all-around nasty. But his books are magical, and they’re beloved by countless children and adults for a reason. And just because his personal views were highly objectionable shouldn’t render his literary works problematic. And just because his literary works used words that in these times of wokeness are considered offensive or even blasphemous shouldn’t render his literary works problematic. Swapping out “fat” for “enormous” isn’t going to make this world a better place; it’s just going to ruin it a little bit more.

Anyway, after about a week, it seems there’s been a rather stunning reversal from Penguin Random House. They’re not scrapping Dahl’s original stories after all:

More from the AP:

Publisher Penguin Random House announced Friday it will publish “classic” unexpurgated versions of Roald Dahl’s children’s novels after it received criticism for cuts and rewrites that were intended to make the books suitable for modern readers.

Along with the new editions, the company said 17 of Dahl’s books would be published in their original form later this year as “The Roald Dahl Classic Collection” so “readers will be free to choose which version of Dahl’s stories they prefer.”

Francesca Dow, managing director of Penguin Random House Children’s, said the publisher had “listened to the debate over the past week which has reaffirmed the extraordinary power of Roald Dahl’s books and the very real questions around how stories from another era can be kept relevant for each new generation.”

“Roald Dahl’s fantastic books are often the first stories young children will read independently, and taking care for the imaginations and fast-developing minds of young readers is both a privilege and a responsibility,” she said.

“We also recognize the importance of keeping Dahl’s classic texts in print,” Dow said. “By making both Puffin and Penguin versions available, we are offering readers the choice to decide how they experience Roald Dahl’s magical, marvelous stories.”

Oh. Huh.

Let’s just say we shouldn’t put it past them to do something like that. Of course, that doesn’t mean they — and we — can’t still learn some valuable lessons from it.


We saw a publisher effectively call for ruining books. At this point, whether they were doing so in earnest or merely as a publicity stunt almost doesn’t matter. And even if Roald Dahl’s original works manage to survive for now, will the works of other authors who maybe don’t have an army of devoted readers to go to the mat for them wind up on the chopping block? We’re officially on a slippery slope at this point. Or, at best, an extremely pathetic one.

And because even at my best, I could never hope to sum up anything — particularly anything as stupid as all of this was — as well as the great Iowahawk, I’m going to leave you with his characteristically perfect little thread on the matter:

Anyone actually advocating for censorship and bowdlerization of literature belongs in a psych ward. Permanently.


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