Let me start with my conclusion. Don’t rewrite books. Lest you think this is a non-issue, just consider what has already happened to children’s classics written by Roald Dahl. The publisher has been encouraging the rewriting of books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Fantastic Mr. Fox. Lest you think that this is a one-off, I have read that the James Bond books of Ian Fleming are being altered and even include a disclaimer.
I mentioned that the publisher has been encouraging the rewriting of the children’s classics. I said it that way because the rewriting has been done by an outside group called “Inclusive Minds” that explains they are passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Columnist Rich Lowry wisely asks, “where does it end? There’s no limiting principle that would prevent the editing of nearly every great writer in the Western canon. Homer is a cauldron of toxic masculinity. Chaucer, who has been removed from curricula at various universities, would need extensive reworking.”
Where does it end? Once you start, it is likely it won’t end. Roald Dahl uses colorful language, but what if you don’t like the colors in one of the paintings in the local gallery? What, he wonders, if someone believes “Tchaikovsky should have written his 1812 Overture in D-sharp minor instead of E-flat major.”
This isn’t a new phenomenon. The word “bowdlerize” comes from Thomas Bowdler, who published a version he believed was more appropriate for 19th century families. He ruined one of the classics of Western literature.
The current attempt to make everything we read, see, and hear politically correct is destroying the great works of art. Don’t rewrite these books.