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Showing posts from February 19, 2023

The Sensitivity Reader : Roald Dahl and James Joyce

  Publishers of Roald Dahl, the author famed for mentioning unmentionable things, are employing sensitivity readers to alter some of the unmentionable language in his children’s books. This is language deemed offensive. The unmentionable is one of the reasons readers read Roald Dahl. The publishers stand by “the irreverence and sharp-edged spirit of the original text,” so how much that changes after the sensitivity readers get to work is a fair question. ‘Fat’ and ‘ugly’ have been cut, with the result that Mrs Twit is no longer “ugly and beastly” but just “beastly”. Physical appearance is a main concern behind hundreds of changes. Then there is “Aunt Sponge who is terrifically fat / And tremendously flabby at that,” which has been changed to “Aunt Sponge was a nasty old brute / And deserved to be squashed by the fruit,” leaving one to wonder if the sensitivity reader is not guilty of ageism, also revengism, but more to the point a co-author of the work, given the new couplet alters the