The James Bond novels are to be reissued with a number of racial references removed. The Ian Fleming novels will also include a disclaimer that the books might use terms of attitudes “considered offensive by modern readers”.
Ian Fleming Publications Ltd, which owns the rights to the author’s work, employed sensitivity readers to look at the texts and make recommendations for changes.
The change comes on the heels of another rewriting. Roald Dahl’s children’s books are being rewritten to remove language deemed offensive by the publisher Puffin.
Puffin hired sensitivity readers to rewrite chunks of the author’s text to make sure the books “can continue to be enjoyed by all today”, resulting in extensive changes across Dahl’s work.
The Bond books’ changes include the removal of the N-word in almost all cases, and omitting references to the ethnicity of a number of minor characters. Many of the changes in the Bond books are around the depiction of Black people.
The move by the publishing houses has sparked controversy. There was some furor over changes made to books by Dahl.
One example of a change made to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is that Augustus Gloop is now described as “enormous” rather than “fat”. Elsewhere, a character in The Twits, Mrs. Twit, is now just described as “beastly” rather than “ugly and beastly”.
In response to criticism, Dahl’s publisher Puffin said it would release the author’s works in their original versions as well as the new texts.
Alexandra Strick, a co-founder of Inclusive Minds, said they “aim to ensure authentic representation, by working closely with the book world and with those who have lived experience of any facet of diversity”.
The new Bond issues are set to mark 70 years since the publication of Fleming’s first novel, Casino Royale.