Yes, it’s Letters Week here at the maths blog. Along with libraries “decolonising” their collections, we had Penguin Books deciding that Roald Dahl’s stories required some nice-ing, with words such as “ugly” and “fat” being replaced with gentler ways of describing Dahl’s ugly and fat characters. Thank God we have such thoughtful and brave defenders of our literary traditions.
There’s not much to say about this one, but it’s so stupid you gotta say something. To be honest, we’re not a huge fan of Dahl’s stories. Our daughters love them, at least the good ones, but the stories, although great, are a bit too mean for us. But that is the point: having Dahl without the meanness is like having The Texas Chainsaw Massacre without the massacre.
Notably, Penguin has pulled a Coke Classic, and have just announced the “Classic” Dahl books will still be printed. Which kind of fixes it, although the neutered Dahls will still be around, at least for now, and Penguin still looks like a team of unprincipled clowns, and the defenders of Penguin’s initial idiocy are in a No Man’s Land of their own making.
We’ll just make the one, obvious point: Roald Dahl. Dahl created these works, and this should be respected, it should be kept in mind how Dahl felt about his work. And, what would Dahl have thought about Penguin de-meaning his works in such a manner? It’s a fair bet that he’d have described it all with words that Penguin would consider unprintable.