The Roald Dahl book controversy

February 22, 2023 at 8:58 am

At the moment, everyone is talking about the decision to change certain words in some of Roald Dahl’s books. This decision had apparently been made by his publisher in conjunction with Dahl’s family.

Having heard some of the terms they were changing, it didn’t seem a big deal to me at first. However, when I heard they were changing things like ‘black cloak’ to make it just a cloak, that seemed a little over the top. I assume their objection was to the use of the word ‘black’ possibly being seen as racist, especially since they were also removing ‘white as a sheet’. That does seem to be going a little too far.

That also gave me pause for thought when it came to my own books because my recently-approved final typeset version of the new book I’ve got coming out this year has ‘turned white with rage’ at least once. Um, am I going to get in trouble for that? Hopefully not! Admittedly, I write for an older age group, so things shouldn’t be as strict as they are for books read by young children.

However, as an author, I need to take this trend seriously. I wondered how I would feel if someone wanted these kinds of changes made to my books. Honestly, my response was, ‘Great, if it means someone’s reading them!’ I don’t think I will ever be on Roald Dahl’s level (I wish!), so it’s unlikely any changes to my books will upset a huge section of the YA audience.

It is difficult when times change and changes are deemed necessary to works that are so beloved by so many. I think, in this case, many of the proposed changes are probably unnecessary, and some change the text so little that I wonder if they make any difference at all. I think I would be glad if the publisher decided against this action, especially given the outcry of so many.

I guess we’ll see what happens.

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