Where are the Oompa Loompas when you need them. Willy Wonka’s helpers asked “who do you blame when your kid is a brat? Pampered and spoiled like a Siamese cat?” The same question could be asked about publishers after Puffin Books hired sensitivity readers to “update” portions of Roald Dahl’s classic books. The changes include dropping references to Augustus Gloop being “fat.” Yet, unlike the Oompa Loompas, who found sanctuary “from hornswogglers and snozzwangers and those terrible wicked whangdoodles,” there is no safe place from woke whangdoodles today.
While European publishers have refused to rewrite Dahl’s classics, Puffin Books believes that it is perfectly acceptable to change books after an author has died. Puffin simply could not abide references to things like the weight of Gloop. So they changed “fat” to “enormous.” (It is not clear what Puffin Books will do with Walter Tevis’ character “Minnesota Fats” in The Hustler. “Minnesota Enormous” just doesn’t quite have that same authentic gritty quality in a pool hall drama).
WARNING THE FOLLOWING VIDEO SHOWS OOMPA LOOMPAS REFERENCING A WORD DEPICTING A BODY SHAPE:
French publishing house Gallimard told The Telegraph that it will not rewrite such works and the revisions “only concern Britain.”
Yet, many believe that it is perfectly acceptable to rewrite the work of great authors. We previously discussed how publishers rewrote portions of Twain classics like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn because people found the original writing to be offensive.
With writers and editors supporting blacklisting, it is little surprise to see support for simply changing the work of others to fit your own values. It is the reign of literary Lilliputians swarming over great works to conform them to their own vision and preferences. Rather than cancel writers, they are simply forcing them (including those long deceased) to speak in a different voice or use different words. These authors become ventriloquist puppets for others speaking through their works.
The silence of many writers and academics is deafening. People who claim to support free expression are just looking at their shoes rather than risk being targeted as reactionary or insufficiently sensitive to contemporary mores. After all, Dahl is not objecting, why should we? Of course, he died in 1990, but most writers and editors today either support such violations of creative expression or they are entirely intimidated by the flash mobs that target critics.
So Puffin Books will change these works to the thrill of activists. These woke apparatchiks will take a masterpiece that they could never have written themselves and change passages to fit their own values. It is an attack on the independence and free expression of artists and writers alike, but there is not even a single Oompa Loompa still around to object:
Oompa Loompa doompadee doo
I’ve got another puzzle for you
Oompa Loompa doompa dah dee
If you are wise you’ll listen to me
… Why don’t you try simply reading a book?
Or could you just not bear to look?