The New Book Burning: Rewriting Roald Dahl

There’s nothing new in having established books censored. In 2011, I wrote about the concentrated effort to have Mark Twain’s books “rewritten” and “edited” without him. Today, there is a similar effort to “rewrite” and “edit” the fine work of author Roald Dahl. These reverse efforts, after publication, to quiet the writer’s voice through “social context” editing, is absolutely the same as burning books on a wood pyre — but with the excuse of protecting children. and of being sensitive to the new emancipation of provocative social norms.

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Does the Western Literary Canon Need Fewer White Men?

Ask a random current student if he or she has read something by William Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer, or Mark Twain, and the answer will almost certainly be a yes— whether that “yes” is voiced with fondness, indifference, or bitterness. Ask that student’s parents or grandparents the same question, and despite generational gaps, the answer likely will not change.

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Taking the Nigger Out of Jim

NewSouth Books, a publisher based in Alabama, is reprinting Mark Twain’s germinal book — Adventures of Huckleberry Finn — by censoring the words “nigger” and “injun” and replacing them with the words “slave” and “indian.”

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