Woke Publisher Rewrites Roald Dahl to 'Remove Offensive Words'

P. Gardner Goldsmith | February 20, 2023
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Writers and advocates of fine writing have seen this coming. It began decades ago as part of the Postmodern “Deconstructionism” movement in college and high school literature classes. It started with leftist “teachers” claiming that there were “hidden meanings” and “subtexts” to tales that the authors never overtly acknowledged, and which, likely, the authors never really put into the stories. The “Deconstruction” tactic has been useful for leftists to either claim that a respected and admired piece pushed a collectivist message that was not really in the work, or to claim that a particular author or his story was covertly “racist”. “sexist”, “misogynist” or some other emblematic evil that could be leveraged to criticize traditional morals, economics, or philosophies.

That immoral act saw the “teaching authority” taking words on the page and imbuing them with meanings other than those intended by the author -- something that reflected towering disrespect for the author (often, long-since dead) and for the students listening to the lies.

Now, woke publishers literally are inserted the lies into the text.

And British writer Roald Dahl is one of the first beloved authors being harmed.

The Telegraph U.K. just released an exposé that blows the lid off this injustice to the author, to readers, and to the principle of truth -- and it is as stunning for what it reveals about the woke mindset as it is shocking for what it tells us about decades of “literati” Deconstructionism embraced by many people in the publishing industry.

If you loved Dahl’s heartwarming absurdist fiction, including classics such as “James and the Giant Peach,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and “The BFG,” or you enjoyed his semi-autobiographical novel, “Danny: The Champion of the World,” get ready for the sting of socialist censorship.

Writes The Telegraph’s Ed Cumming, Genevieve Holl-Allen, Benedict Smith:

“’Words matter,’ begins the discreet notice, which sits at the bottom of the copyright page of Puffin’s latest editions of Roald Dahl’s books. ‘The wonderful words of Roald Dahl can transport you to different worlds and introduce you to the most marvellous characters. This book was written many years ago, and so we regularly review the language to ensure that it can continue to be enjoyed by all today.’”

Proponents of this kind of memory-holing liken it to modern publishers “updating” Middle-English or Jacobean classics, or translating a few colloquial British terms such as “lift” and “flat” to “elevator” and “apartment” for U.S. audiences.

Related: Catholic Georgetown Student Leaders Declare 'Oppressive Language Is Violence', Which Apparently Includes 'Theistic Language' | MRCTV

This is not analogous, in any way, and to make such a claim is to engage in a truly immoral lie.

The Telegraph team goes on:

“The publishers have given themselves licence to edit the writer as they see fit, chopping, altering and adding where necessary to bring his books in line with contemporary sensibilities. By comparing the latest editions with earlier versions of the texts, The Telegraph has found hundreds of changes to Dahl’s stories.”

For example:

“Language related to weight, mental health, violence, gender and race has been cut and rewritten. Remember the Cloud-Men in James and the Giant Peach? They are now the Cloud-People. The Small Foxes in Fantastic Mr Fox are now female. In Matilda, a mention of Rudyard Kipling has been cut and Jane Austen added.”

And after citing these, the Telegraph writers have the gall to claim:

“It’s Roald Dahl, but different.”

No. It’s not Roald Dahl.

As Dr. Seuss might have said, it's not Roald Dahl, at all.

Mr. Dahl worked incredibly hard. His craftmanship was painstaking, and, as a novelist and short story writer, myself, I know that every word is chosen for multiple purposes, including flow, imagery, rhythm, possible subtext, alliteration, and overall plot effectiveness, to name a few.

This is the kind of officious insult that the ribald and anarchic Dahl mocked in his tales. It is full-on, Cultural Marxist, Orwellian memory-holing of some of the finest writing of the Twentieth Century, and it should be a call to rhetorical arms for any writer with a shred of dignity, with a semblance of honor to other writers – alive or dead – and to readers.

Telegraph journalists saying that “this is Dahl, but different” is like saying that I could change their article and, simultaneously claim it was their article. It is a lie.

It’s one thing for an author to work with an editor on the final piece to be released. That is voluntary and consensual. It’s another to invade the final product and change it.

Here is a sample of another corruption of Dahl’s efforts, from his novel, “The Witches”:

“’A witch is always a woman’, went the 2001 version of the book. ‘I do not wish to speak badly about women. Most women are lovely. But the fact remains that all witches are women. There is no such thing as a male witch.’ That became, simply, ‘A witch is always a woman. There is no such thing as a male witch.’”

This is stunning and infuriating. It also is a practice that logically leads to, as I have noted in the past, a “lingua solipsistica” – a language of nothing. Accepting this practice is to open a Pandora’s Box of ceaseless revision, constant meanings-shaves, and, not just the destruction of established works, but also the ruination of the incentives for writers to write.

In the past I have wondered how leftist writers such as Stephen King would feel if the same kind of government “regulations” and “representation” quotas on products and employment were applied to his work – if someone were to tell him to change his books to include more of X or Y person or place or idea. Not only would King likely find that offensive, but also, if third parties began to do this contrary to his agreements with the publisher, he probably would lose interest in writing.

Will he and other leftist writers stand up against the woke doing this to Dahl?

Personally, as a writer, I have taken steps to stand against it as strongly as I can. In all of my future pieces on their way to publication, I stress in an afterword what the book was about, what hidden meanings – if any – there were, and that I do not condone “teachers” misreading the text.

It’s sad that so many people in publishing have, for so many years, thought it perfectly fine to shape other peoples’ words to fit their agendas. Now, it’s gotten to the point where one can’t even be sure if, when buying a Roald Dahl book, it really IS a Roald Dahl book.

Related: Verboten! John Cleese ‘Blacklists’ Himself to Protest Woke Intolerance | MRCTV

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