Dutch publisher critical of altered passages in Roald Dahl books said to be offensive
De Fontein, the publisher of Dutch versions of Roald Dahl's books, criticized in the newspaper Trouw that hundreds of passages in the British editions had been changed because they were "offensive." "In a week and a half is the Children's Book Fair in Bologna, where we will have a serious discussion with the British," director Joris van de Leur told the newspaper.
British publisher Puffin has made the changes so that "everyone can enjoy Dahl's books." For example, the character Augustus Gloop in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is no longer called "fat" but "huge," the Oompa Loompas in the same book are not "little men" but "little people," and in the book The Creeps, the main female character is no longer describes as "ugly."
The director of De Fontein admits in Trouw that there are clichés and exaggerations in Dahl's books. "But that's where his humor lies. Children recognize them, and they make children think about right and wrong. That also makes them timeless. If you take all that away, it loses its power."
Whether the Dutch translations will also implement such changes was not explicitly mentioned in the interview in the newspaper. "We've always had a good relationship with The Dahl Company, which is now partly responsible for this. Every time we reprint Dahl's books, we occasionally make minor adjustments, in consultation with translator Huberte Vriesendorp, but her translations have been unanimously and widely praised for years," Van de Leur told the newspaper.
Also British writer Salman Rushdie was not amused about the recent adjustments to Roald Dahl’s books, reported Trouw. On Twitter, he wrote “Roald Dahl was no angel, but this is absurd censorship. Puffin Books and the Dahl company should be ashamed.”
Reporting by ANP and NL Times