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Weekly Digest #112

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In this digest-

1. Article- Roald Dahl’s 21st Century “Nice-Washing” Crisis

2. Happiness Quotient From Around The World

3. Did You Know?

4. Entertainment Quotient

-Cover Story-

Roald Dahl’s 21st Century “Nice-Washing” Crisis

By: Agastya Rao

Roald Dahl’s stories have been a central part of the childhoods of millions of children, and a shocking change in his books has left a dent in his reputation, and a possible shift in the way books are written in the future.

In a recent series of publications of some of Mr Dahl’s most loved books such as Fantastic Mr Fox, Esio Trot, James and the Giant peach among others there have been a series of changes made by their publisher Puffin books’s Sensitivity readers (who were hired to make books “enjoyable” for all).

There was major backlash for most of the changes such as- removing the word fat from all books, calling no one “pale”, changing the description of the earthworm from James and the Giant speech, by changing his “lovely pink skin” to "lovely smooth skin”. One of the most notable changes was also made to famous Charlie and the Chocolate Factory character Augustus Gloop, whose description was changed from ‘fat’ to enormous. These changes were also criticised by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

Why and who were these changes made for?

These changes were made to make the books more sensitive to modern times and more acceptable for younger readers. The changes were authorised by The Dahl Trust and Puffin books who had hired ‘sensitivity readers’ particularly for the task of editing the books to make them more sensitive. However, while some of the changes made sense, it still begs the question: has the world become too sensitive. I also believe that these changes were made as a preventive measure to prevent Puffin Books or The Dahl Trust from getting cancelled, as seems to be the norm these days.

Why do these changes not make sense.While I understand that younger readers will get influenced by the books they read, replacing some of these ‘ley’ words from Mr Dahl’s books takes away from the very essence of the books, which made them a delight to read in the first place. For example, the removal of the word fat is incredibly extreme, as it is is widely accepted that we should normalise body positivity, but the word is essential to the description of the character (Augustus Gloop), and by removing the word from his description, it is making it seem as if the word fat has a negative connotation and that being fat is a bad thing, which is exactly the thing the activists are against, making their argument backfire and the entire reason for the change become invalid.

Secondly, We have to look at the reasoninging for changing these words from the books, they are to make it more acceptable for younger readers. The lens through which we have to look at this is that Mr Dahl’s books reflected the vocabulary used at that time, and it is reflective of life in those days, and parents will have to talk to their children about the correct or incorrect vocabulary to use and counsel them on the meanings of these words, rather than having these words “vanish” from history, and in essence scrubbing any recollection of the usage of these words in the past. It would be like erasing history, and children would never learn why some of these words are not appropriate to be used today.

It is not the book’s responsibility to teach children the difference between proper and improper vocabulary, that responsibility falls to the guardians. The edits get more absurd as we dig deeper, a prime example arises from the Fantastic Mr Fox, where a line quoted as “Each man will have a flashlight” becomes “Each person will have a flashlight”. This change was clearly not necessary, and is once more being overly woke, if Mr Dahl envisioned the character to be a man, we can’t ask the character what they want as their preferred pronouns, can we?

Puffin Books have now released the edited series and the original series to the public for purchase, and it seems that their profits would increase from this “double” release. Whether the editing of these books was a business move or a cancellation preventive measure, I still believe that the edits shouldn’t have been made, and that Mr Dahl would have disapproved of his books being tampered with in such a manner. It is now just a fact that we have to accept, that Roald Dahl is now “woke”


By: Mihir Rao


By: Abhimanyu Rao


Entertainment quotient for the week:


  • Shadow and Bone: Season 2


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