By now, you’ve likely heard of cancel culture. Society today has become more aware of the importance of becoming less offensive. Before long, there was a fine line between respecting people’s genuine feelings and canceling everything. Most people simply sought inclusion for all demographics. Instead, companies started changing names, American classics were banned from schools and libraries, and so on, going so far as to change the classic works of Roald Dahl. However, good news for fans, it sparked such a negative reaction that Puffin Publishing has decided to keep the renowned author’s original writing.
Roald Dahl Failed Before Succeeding
Most people have heard of Roald Dahl, even if they’re unsure how. In 1916, he was born in New South Wales. The British author attended Repton Public School, graduating in 1932. Roald Dahl opted out of university and instead set out, with others, on an adventure to Newfoundland, Canada. He had a series of odd jobs until World War II broke out, and he chose to join the Royal Air Force and eventually became a spy for the British Government.
Although Roald Dahl is most popular for his children’s books, that wasn’t his first writing venture. He first wrote short stories for the Saturday Evening Post about his time serving in the military. His first children’s writing, intended for Walt Disney to use, didn’t sell well, and rather than give up writing embarked on a different genre. Roald Dahl would go on to write a best-selling collection of gruesome stories for adults.
He then wrote a love story and finally returned to attempting children’s stories. At this point, he would create a number of classics such as James and the Giant Peach, The BFG, Matilda, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Those stories would be published around 20 years after his unsuccessful first attempt for Disney.
Changing the Originals
The multifaceted writer penned a total of 43 books in his career. Of those, 17 popular children’s stories are set to be released later this year. Dubbed the ‘Roald Dahl Classic Collection,’ Puffin UK has announced the collection will contain archived material and will ‘keep the author’s classic texts in print.’
This announcement came after Puffin UK announced they would reprint the Roald Dahl classics because the originals contained controversial topics. Examples include race, gender, weight stigma, mental health, and violence. Although they were trying to appeal to a more inclusive audience, they instead faced criticism involving the proposed changes. One of the most notable critics is British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
He was represented by a spokesperson saying, “When it comes to our rich and varied literary heritage, the prime minister agrees with the BFG that we shouldn’t gobblefunk around with words.”
Unhappy Fans Speak Out
Following that backlash, and public criticism, Penguin Random House released a statement saying they will have both versions available this year. According to Francesca Dow, managing director, “At Puffin, we have proudly published Roald Dahl’s stories for more than 40 years in partnership with the Roald Dahl Story Company. Their mischievous spirit and his unique storytelling genius have delighted the imaginations of readers across many generations.”
Solutions to Appease the Masses
Addressing the debates, she said, “As a children’s publisher, our role is to share the magic of stories with children with the greatest thought and care. Roald Dahl’s fantastic books are often the first stories young children will read independently. Taking care for the imaginations and fast-developing minds of young readers is both a privilege and a responsibility. We also recognize the importance of keeping Dahl’s classic texts in print. By making both Puffin and Penguin versions available, we are offering readers the choice to decide how they experience Roald Dahl’s magical, marvelous stories.”
Roald Dahl’s Hope to Inspire Youth
Her statement ended with a heartwarming reminder of what children’s stories are really about. “‘Roald Dahl once said: “If my books can help children become readers, then I feel I have accomplished something important”. At Puffin, we’ll keep pursuing that ambition for as long as we make books.” she said.
Roald Dahl spent years appealing to a range of audiences. He was most successful when he combined children’s imagination with a little comedy and even more darkness. His stories have lived on for generations and likely will continue to do. This is especially true if Puffin UK stands by its new solution to include copies of both options.
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