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Salman Rushdie and Brian Cox criticized publisher Roald Dahl for inclusive book editions

The decision to revise some of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s books to make them more inclusive was met with widespread condemnation over the weekend.

Dahl’s publisher, Puffin Books, a division of Penguin Random House, and the Roald Dahl Story Co., which manages the works’ copyright and trademarks, told the British Telegraph in a report published Friday that the two collaborated with Inclusive Minds, a collective working to make children’s literature more inclusive, to make the hundreds of changes. Critics of Dahl, who remained a vocal anti-Semitic until his death in 1990, have argued that some of his works are bigoted.


Renowned author Salman Rushdie, whose novel The Satanic Verses led Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa in 1989 calling on all Muslims to kill him, denounced the changes to Dahl’s works.

“Roald Dahl was no angel, but this is absurd censorship,” Rushdie tweeted on Saturday. “Puffin Books and the Dahl estate should be ashamed.”

Actor Brian Cox, who currently stars in HBO’s Succession and has worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company, slammed the revisions, comparing them to McCarthyism.

“I really believe so [these books are] of his time and should be left alone,” he told the Times of London in a radio interview. “Roald Dahl was a great satirist, apart from anything else. It’s embarrassing.”

“It’s this kind of form of McCarthyism, this awakened culture, that wants to absolutely reinterpret everything and redesign and say, ‘Oh, that didn’t exist,'” he continued. “Well, it did exist. We must acknowledge our history.”

Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America, a nonprofit that advocates for free expression in literature and other arts, said her organization was “alarmed” by news of the changes.

“If we start down the path of trying to correct perceived slights rather than allowing readers to receive and react to books as they are written, we risk distorting the work of great authors and obscuring the essential lens that literature offers to society,” Nossel wrote. Twitter.


Laura Hackett, a lifelong Dahl fan who serves as deputy literary editor at London’s Sunday Times newspaper, vowed to collect old, unaltered copies of Dahl’s works for her children while condemning the revisions.

“The publishers of Puffin should be ashamed of themselves for the botched surgery they have carried out on some of Britain’s best children’s literature,” wrote Hackett. “As for me, I will carefully store my old, original copies of Dahl’s stories, so that one day my children can enjoy them in all their nasty, colorful glory.”

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