Making Sense of the Roald Dahl and Ian Fleming Controveries

Recently, Ian Fleming’s and Roald Dahl’s books have been in the news for being revised to remove language that is offensive and sensitive. Many people have protested these changes and are against censorship. Should these books be revised to meet the needs of a modern and progressive audience? 

The Controversies 

It all started when it was announced the Dahl’s books would be revised to remove language that is insensitive to “protect children.” Many people were outraged and protested these changes. Puffin Books decided to release both the revised and the original versions. 

Charlie and the Choclate Factory by Roald Dahl controversy
Charlie and the Choclate Factory by Roald Dahl

Fleming’s estate decided to do the same thing and revise his books for their rerelease to celebrate the 70th year anniversary of the books. This is much more recent and while it drew criticism, it hasn’t been to the same extent as Dahl’s novels as of yet. 

Why the Books are Being Revised 

There are two main reasons why the estates of these two authors are revising the books. The first one is that many of the books by these authors include words and phrases that are offensive. It was a different time and these things were the norm. Now they aren’t. Many parents don’t want their children to be exposed to language that is offensive. 

And the parents are right. Many people will argue that they can read other books but can they? Dahl is one of the bestselling children’s authors of all time and his books are everywhere. Children will naturally gravitate towards them. They deserve to be able to read them without outdated stereotypes and offensive language.  

The second reason why the books are being revised is because of money. They want to sell as many books as possible and to do that, they have to make sure their books aren’t considered offensive or insensitive. Parents are more involved with what their children read and want them to read books they consider “good.” 

That is why many estates are changing their tune and their books to appeal to them. It is a smart move that will pay off literally. All of this controversy is going to help sell even more books which is why the Fleming estate may have followed suit after seeing how the Dahl controversy played out. 

Who is Right? 

For as long as books have existed, they have been controversial. The battle for what adults and children should read is nothing new. Now, the estates of famous authors are getting involved whereas it was mostly schools and libraries banning books.  

So, who is right? The answer to me is pretty simple. It is the people that are actually reading the books. How many of the people complaining about the revisions are even going to read these books? Very few. 

Casino Royale book cover
Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

If you have read the James Bond books, then you know how problematic they can be. They were written when racism was commonplace and accepted. Fleming portrays black characters poorly and some of his description is offensive and racist. The excuse “It was another time” does not hold.  

Before Fleming passed away, he made changes to his novel Let or Let Die because it was problematic even back then. Even now, it is going through revisions which says a lot. Authors and books aren’t perfect and not all change is bad. 


These changes do not even account for one percent of the books. It will still be the same novel and most people wouldn’t even notice it. That isn’t censorship in my opinion. People who are making it sound like no book is safe now are crying wolf.  

Books have always been under attack and being banned. But the same people that have been silent about books being banned are now making a scene about small changes to books that they won’t ever read. It doesn’t feel like they care about the actual books but are trying to spew rhetoric that will get them likes and views.  

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