They’re charging a pretty penny for the una-Dahl-terated classics.
While undoubtedly maligned by many, the notorious Roald Dahl word purge could prove a boon to one segment of society: the owners of the original books. “Unedited” versions of the classic children’s novels have reportedly been listed for as much as $7,000 on eBay.
This comes after the news broke that Puffin Books — a Penguin Books imprint for children — had tapped so-called sensitivity experts to scrub language they deemed offensive in an effort to appease the “woke” masses. This politically correct makeover included removing the words “fat” or “ugly,” and making the beloved Oompa Loompas of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” gender neutral.
Puffin and the Roald Dahl Story Company made the changes in conjunction with the advocacy group Inclusive Minds, which is “a collective for people who are passionate about inclusion and accessibility in children’s literature,” a spokesperson told the Daily Mail.
Yet there’s a silver lining to the Willy Woke-ification for some enterprising cynics, who could potentially rake in a boatload selling the unaltered versions of the books on Ebay.
For example, a signed 1989 copy of “Matilda” — which will be changed in future editions to describe the story’s villain Mrs. Trunchbull, formerly the “most formidable female,” to the “most formidable woman” — is listed for $2,731.39 on the auction site.
Another E-bazaar user is hawking an unvarnished edition of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” for an eye-popping whopping $7,216. In the “inclusive” iteration, the diminutive staffers of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory are referred to as “small people” instead of “small men” while the honey-grubbing Augustus Gloop is no longer “fat” but “enormous.”
Literati can also pay a staggering $1,800 for an original copy of “The Twits,” in which Mrs. Twit is described as both “ugly and beastly,” and not just “beastly” as she is in the new version.
If that wasn’t enough of a digital golden ticket, a signed copy of “The BFG” is listed for $5,251.01. “James and the Giant Peach” is starting at $2,500 while a signed first edition of “The Witches” is going for $7,500. In the latter’s latest update, a section that describes the witches as bald beneath their wigs has a new disclaimer: “There are plenty of other reasons why women might wear wigs and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.”
It’s yet unclear whether the word purge will prompt people to shell out oodles for the unaltered books on eBay. However, a December survey of 2,000 Americans revealed that a whopping 43% sought out challenged or banned books to read last year while 73% opposed book bans in general.
Either way, there’s been a ferocious backlash against Puffin’s censorious initiative with New York Post columnist Piers Morgan analogizing the measure to China’s “cultural revolution.”
“By rewriting vast swaths of a great writer’s work in this way, purely to appease the never-satisfied, always-whining woke brigade, Puffin has surrendered to a new form of fascism,” he wrote.
By a similar token, award-winning author Salman Rushdie — who was viciously stabbed last summer at a literary event in western New York — recently dubbed the measure an example of “absurd censorship.”
Suzanne Nossel, the CEO of PEN America, wrote on Twitter that she and others at the literature and human rights organization were “alarmed” by the changes. “The problem with taking license to re-edit classic works is that there is no limiting principle,” she declared. “You start out wanting to replace a word here and a word there, and end up inserting entirely new ideas (as has been done to Dahl’s work).”
Nossel added, “Literature is meant to be surprising and provocative. That’s part of its potency. By setting out to remove any reference that might cause offense you dilute the power of storytelling.”
Meanwhile the Roald Dahl Story Company insisted that the changes were necessary for a modern audience and would have no impact on the author’s voice and style of writing.
“Our guiding principle throughout has been to maintain the storylines, characters, and the irreverence and sharp-edged spirit of the original text,” a spokesperson wrote. “Any changes made have been small and carefully considered.”