First Roald Dahl Books Got Revised, Now James Bond Books Are Being Rewritten To Remove All That Racism

Last week, social media erupted in fury when it was revealed dozens of Roald Dahl children’s books were being dramatically revised to remove some of their nastier and more problematic bits. The uproar was such that the publisher decided to make both versions available. Now something similar is happening to Ian Fleming’s oft-dicey James Bond books.

As per The Sunday Telegraph, Ian Fleming Publications, which owns the literary rights to its namesake’s work, has hired “sensitivity readers” to pore over such tomes as Dr. No, From Russia with Love, and Goldfinger as the character nears its 70th anniversary. Their target doesn’t appear to be as widespread as the ones for Dahl. Instead of zapping all the outdated mores, such as 007’s casual sexism, they’re specifically targeting the more racist passages.

The books, which will be republished in April, will still carry a warning. “This book was written at a time when terms and attitudes which might be considered offensive by modern readers were commonplace,” it will read. “A number of updates have been made in this edition, while keeping as close as possible to the original text and the period in which it is set.”

Not all of Fleming’s books are riddled with racial dodginess. That is, they’re not all at the level of 1954’s Live and Let Die, where the baddie, Mr. Big, is a Black Jamaican with ties to the American criminal underworld. The film version, which was made at the height of the Blaxploitation era, removed or toned down some of Fleming’s more outlandish passages, such as white characters complaining about how they can no longer hang in Harlem.

Will news of the Bond bowdlerization be met with the same backlash as the Roald Dahl news, which was condemned by both the right and the left? Time will tell. But some people did point out that removing racism from Fleming’s Bond books will make some of them awfully shorter.

Meanwhile, Eon Productions, which owns the rights to the Bond film franchise, are still figuring out who will replace Daniel Craig, who’s been done with the gig for over three years. For years there was talk of casting Idris Elba in the role, but some people in the industry are sure the next Bond won’t be Black.

(Via The Sunday Telegraph)