Rationalizing Rewrites

News: World News
by Samuel McCarthy  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  February 24, 2023   

Leftists double down on woke revisions to children's classics

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GREAT MISSINDEN, England (ChurchMilitant.com) - Publishers are justifying their woke revisions to classic children's stories.

Roald Dahl, Rudyard Kipling and Joseph Conrad

The current publishers of Roald Dahl's children's books are claiming their controversial rewrites of such classics as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach are meant to protect children.

A spokesman for Puffin Books explained, "Children as young as five or six read Roald Dahl books, and often they are the first stories they will read independently. With that comes a significant responsibility, as it might be the first time they are navigating written content without a parent, teacher or carer."

The publishers also claimed they had implemented only "a relatively small number of textual edits," despite the revisions numbering in the hundreds, according to an analysis by The Telegraph. Among the "small number of textual edits" is the deletion of every use of the word "fat," the promotion of feminism, and, due to perceived racism, the removal of references to classic British authors like Rudyard Kipling or Joseph Conrad.

The Ministry of Truth

While working on the Dahl revisions, Puffin sought the input of Inclusive Minds, a literary firm specializing in critiquing predominantly children's books to ensure they meet leftist standards.

Church Militant asked Inclusive Minds about its role in revising Dahl's classics. The firm responded it seeks to emphasize "diversity" and "inclusion," noting that Inclusive Minds does not effect the rewrites or revisions itself but simply makes recommendations to the publisher. It is then up to the publisher to make editing decisions.

Inclusive Minds operates using so-called inclusion ambassadors. The firm explains these are "young people with many different lived experiences who are willing to share their insight to help them in the process of creating authentically — and often incidentally — inclusive books."

Church Militant asked how Inclusive Minds defines "authenticity" but has yet to receive an answer. Given that Dahl was (independently of his children's fiction) frequently accused of misogyny and anti-Semitism, one is left to wonder how "diverse" and "inclusive" are "authentic" representations of the author.

News Report: Foisting Ideology on Children

Inclusive Mind's ambassadors are tasked with "reviewing language that can be damaging and perpetuate harmful stereotypes."

The firm further explained:

In all our work with marginalized young people, the very real negative impact and damage caused to self-worth and mental health from biased, stereotypical and inauthentic representation is a recurring theme. On any project, it's the role of the ambassador to help identify language and portrayals that could be inauthentic or problematic, and to highlight why, as well as indicate potential solutions.

Dahl's stories have, notably, inspired and encouraged children to be heroes. In fact, Francesa Dow, the managing director of children's publishing at Penguin Random House (Puffin's parent company) once described the eponymous protagonist of Dahl's Matilda as her "literary hero." She added, "One of the greatest pleasures of being a parent has been reading with my two boys and sharing stories together. Sadly for me they are now too grown-up for bedtime stories, but my favorite reading memories are courtesy of Roald Dahl."

Enduring Classics

Referring to the hundreds of changes made, Puffin insisted, "Roald Dahl's stories remain unchanged and his mischievous spirit undiminished. They still celebrate and showcase his unique voice and his brilliantly rich storytelling."

The revisions have, however, sparked widespread controversy. Famed author Salman Rushdie blasted the rewrites as "absurd censorship," telling the publishers they "should be ashamed." A Scottish graffiti artist even depicted classic Dahl characters in handcuffs and muzzles, with police tape across the mural reading "dangerous." The Telegraph even argued, in opposition to Puffin's claims, that several of the rewritten Dahl stories are unrecognizable, most notably The Witches.

In response to the backlash, Penguin announced it will continue publishing the "classic" editions of Dahl's stories, sans woke revisions. The publishing house stated that, this way, "readers will be free to choose which version of Dahl's stories they prefer."

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