Readers who own digital copies of Roald Dahl books on their Kindle devices are expressing their dismay at their collections being automatically updated with the new censored versions that were revised to be more politically correct.
Despite the fact that she purchased the original version of Dahl's 1988 classic Matilda, one reader by the name of Clarissa Aykroyd shared that her Kindle had updated to the newly-released censored version, which switched phrases like “mothers and fathers” to the gender-neutral “parents.”
“I downloaded my ebook of Matilda, which I bought a few years ago, to see if Joseph Conrad was still there. He was. I closed it, deleted it & downloaded/opened it again (mistake). Joseph Conrad was gone. I was not given a choice as to whether I wanted the updated version,” Aykroyd wrote on Twitter.
In Matilda, Dahl wrote of the protagonist's — a young girl with a proclivity for reading — admiration for the novelist Joseph Conrad, who was known for his 1899 novella Heart of Darkness, which was once highly regarded as a critique of European colonial rule in Africa. In more recent decades, academics have debated over whether the book's depiction of African people was racially ignorant.
“She went on olden day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling,” wrote Dahl in his original version.
In the current version of the book, any mention of both Conrad and fellow novelist Kipling were scrubbed.
“I barely cared about the Roald Dahl changes before, but hearing that they are forcing updates to customers who had previously purchased uncensored ebooks makes me want to throw my Kindle in the trash,” wrote another Twitter user.
Puffin Books, the publisher of Dahl's novels, updated his stories to no longer describe rotund characters like Augustus Gloop as “fat,” or unattractive antagonists like Mrs. Twit as “fearfully ugly,” on e-reading devices such as the Amazon Kindle. New editions of the books with the censored stories will be printed and sold as well. According to The Telegraph, hundreds of words describing characters' appearances, races and genders, had been revised or omitted in at least ten of Dahl's 19 children's books.
After the backlash surrounding the new editions, Puffin Books announced they would be releasing uncensored “classic texts” of Dahl's work, though Kindle users weren't given the choice to pick.
Dahl's biographer, Matthew Dennison, accused the publishing company of “strong-arming readers into accepting a new orthodoxy in which Dahl himself has played no part.”
“I'm almost certain that he would have recognised that alterations to his novels prompted by the political climate were driven by adults rather than children,” he told the outlet on February 24.
“I never get any protests from children,” Dahl once said. “All you get are giggles of mirth and squirms of delight. I know what children like.”