James Bond rewrite: Ian Fleming books to have ‘offensive’ references removed following Roald Dahl edits
Ian Flemming’s famous James Bond books will be rewritten to remove some of the more offensive terms and attitudes portrayed. The new issues will mark 70 years since the publication of Mr Fleming’s first novel Casino Royale.
The rewrite will see terms such as the n-word, which featured in his writing from the 1950s and 1960s, be edited out of new editions of the 007 books set for reissue in April. The telegraph reports that some depictions of Black people have also been reworked or removed, but references to other ethnicities, such as a term for east Asian people and Bond’s mocking views of Oddjob, Goldfinger’s Korean henchman, remain.
Revised lines include Bond’s assessment in Live and Let Die that would-be African criminals are “pretty law-abiding chaps I should have thought, except when they’ve drunk too much”, which has been changed to “pretty law-abiding chaps I should have thought”.
References to the “sweet tang of rape”, “blithering women”, doing a “man’s work” and references to homosexuality being a “stubborn disability” have been kept in.
A disclaimer alongside the new editions will reportedly read: “This book was written at a time when terms and attitudes which might be considered offensive by modern readers were commonplace. A number of updates have been made in this edition, while keeping as close as possible to the original text and the period in which it is set.”
This comes after books written by children’s author Roald Dahl were also re-written to remove ‘critical language’. The edits to the classic fiction were made by Dahl’s British publisher, Puffin Books.
A spokesperson for the Roald Dahl Story Company said: "We want to ensure that Roald Dahl’s wonderful stories and characters continue to be enjoyed by all children today.
"When publishing new print runs of books written years ago, it’s not unusual to review the language used alongside updating other details including a book’s cover and page layout. Our guiding principle throughout has been to maintain the storylines, characters, and the irreverence and sharp-edged spirit of the original text."
One example of the changes is in ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’. Where Augustus Gloop was described as ‘enormously fat’, he is now depicted as being just ‘enormous’. Another example is in ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’. The word ‘black’ has been removed from a description of tractors in the book. The description now reads “murderous, brutal-looking monsters”.
In a speech to mark the second anniversary of her literary initiative Reading Room at Clarence House, many interpreted that the Queen Consort disapproved of the decision.
The Queen Consort’s speech urged writers “to remain true to your calling, unimpeded by those who may wish to curb the freedom of your expression or your imagination” and added “Let there be no squeaking like mice but only roaring like a pride of lions!”