At @PENamerica we are alarmed at news of "hundreds of changes" to venerated works by @roald_dahl in a purported effort to scrub the books of that which might offend someone. 1/13
Amidst fierce battles against book bans and strictures on what can be taught and read, selective editing to make works of literature conform to particular sensibilities could represent a dangerous new weapon. 2/13
Those who might cheer specific edits to Dahl's work should consider how the power to rewrite books might be used in the hands of those who do not share their values and sensibilities. 3/13
We understand the impulse to want to ensure that great works of children's literature do not alienate kids or foster stereotypes. 4/13
In some cases, including Dr. Seuss books, beloved works have been withdrawn entirely out of concern for causing offense, a regrettable outcome that is rarely, if ever, justified. 5/13
The problem with taking license to re-edit classic works is that there is no limiting principle. You start out wanting to replace a word here and a word there, and end up inserting entirely new ideas (as has been done to Dahl's work). 6/13
Literature is meant to be surprising and provocative. That's part of its potency. By setting out to remove any reference that might cause offense you dilute the power of storytelling. 7/13
Better than playing around with these texts is to offer introductory context that prepares people for what they are about to read, and helps them understand the setting in which it was written. 8/13
If an editor, publisher or estate believes they must go beyond that, readers should be put on notice about what changes have been made and those wishing to read the work in its original form should have that opportunity. 9/13
Changes should be kept as surgical as possible with expert input to uphold the integrity and authenticity of the original work. 10/13
So much of literature could be construed as offensive to someone - based on race, gender, religion, age, socio-economic status or myriad other factors. Such portrayals are vital topics for discussion and debate, leading to new insights. 11/13
Should Charlie Bucket's elderly grandparents now be depicted not as lying in bed, but rather perhaps golfing or playing pickle ball? 12/13
If we start down the path of trying to correct for perceived slights instead of allowing readers to receive and react to books as written, we risk distorting the work of great authors and clouding the essential lens that literature offers on society. 13/13

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Good thread. Thank you!