Wednesday, March 1, 2023


When making classics appropriate for modern readers:
Sensitivity readers have been busy lately, first rewriting the works of Roald Dahl, and then trimming Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, ostensibly making them less offensive to modern readers. So what will they edit next – and how might they bring it into line with modern mores?
Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
A honey-loving bear goes on a macrobiotic diet, and his best friend Eeyore is prescribed anti-depressants. Christopher Robin receives anti-psychotic medication to alleviate the delusion that animals are talking to him. ....

Dracula by Bram Stoker
A vampire learns to seek consent from beautiful women and people without wombs who identify as women before sucking their blood, and agrees to stop at any point that they change their minds about being blood donors. ....

The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
A group of schoolboys stranded on a deserted island form a commune and survive by engaging in a Marxist dialectic. They decry adults as bourgeois imperialists, and a pig-hunting expedition ends with them all deciding to become vegans. ....

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Three children are rescued by child protective services and learn not to talk to strangers hiding in the back of closets.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Authorities shut down a school where pupils routinely risk their lives playing Quidditch and die in dangerous competitions, experimenting in the dark arts, or attacked by Death Eaters, killing curses and werewolves. The building is found to lack permits for moving staircases and its ubiquitous use of candlelight is branded a fire hazard. ....

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
A sexually ambiguous Mole, Rat and Badger persuade wealthy Mr Toad to share his fortune and turn Toad Hall into a shelter for underprivileged weasels. Mr Toad reveals that he identifies as a Frog, legally alters his species, and changes his pronouns to they/them.
Peter Sheridan, "After Dahl: what the sensitivity readers did next," The Spectator, March 1, 2023.

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