Everyone bopmuggered by vomitous gobblefunk in censored Roald Dahl books (Rob Beschizza / Boing Boing)
“ … in fact no-one asked for this: not the left, not the right, not anyone…. the fake ‘wokeness’ of fiduciary duty and shareholder value.”
Roald Dahl’s books aren’t getting a big marketing push and extensive revisions for political reasons. It’s happening because a corporation thinks it can make a lot of money, and is twisting itself into knots to make that happen.
I loved Dahl’s books and the movies that have been made from them, and was troubled by the current round of editing. I was also troubled a few years ago, learning about Dahl’s racism and anti-semitism.
What’s the right answer here, I thought? On the one hand, it’s wrong to make wholesale edits in original work. Usually it’s a good idea to simply present the work as published, while also putting the work in historical context. But that seems like it’s unreasonable when dealing with children’s literature.
Beschizza suggest another solution: Just stop trying to make Dahl’s books into a big pop-culture sensation. Do continue to make his books available, but stop pouring big money into new editions and marketing.
Dahl may, simply, be inappropriate for today’s audiences, particularly children.
I’m not even sad about that. If Dahl is wrong for kids today, that’s fine, because pop culture is inherently evanescent. Very little pop culture survives a century—but that’s OK, because new pop culture comes along to replace it. And the old books are still around. You can still find E.E. Smith and Edgar Rice Burroughs and H. Rider Haggard and those guys. Put Dahl in the same category, once immensely popular works slowly fading into obscurity.
When I was eight years old, our third grade teacher sat in front of a class after lunch every day and read to us briefly aloud—just for entertainment, and to awaken a lifelong love of books in us. Among those books were “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.” That’s a wonderful memory, and it worked. I have loved reading, particularly fantastic fiction, my whole life. Nothing’s going to take any of that that away.
A new generation of kids can experience the same thing, with new books, appropriate to them.
By the way, that teacher’s name was Arlene Kaufman (or Kaufmann—maybe two Ns). Miss Kaufman. A wonderful teacher. I’ve written about her online before and received a Facebook Message from her in 2018, after not having spoken with her since I was a young child. It was a fantastic and weird experience, and I wish I’d kept up the correspondence.