Controversy arises following the decision to rewrite Agatha Christie novels

Mar 27, 2023
Agatha Christie's famous novels have undergone revisions to remove language that has been deemed insensitive or inappropriate. Source: Getty Images.

Reports have emerged that Agatha Christie’s famous novels featuring the beloved characters Poirot and Miss Marple have undergone revisions to remove language that has been deemed insensitive or inappropriate.

Publisher HarperCollins has reportedly removed several passages from new editions of the books, including text containing insults or references to ethnicity, as well as descriptions of certain characters’ physiques, according to The Telegraph.

News of the change was met with considerable backlash, many taking to social media to oppose the move which one person described as “woke madness”.

The decision to revise such classic works comes amidst a growing trend of re-examining literature for language and themes that may be considered offensive by contemporary standards. While some argue that these revisions are necessary to make the works more palatable to modern readers, others argue that they may be erasing important historical and cultural context.

Most recently the decision was made to censor the language of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s books. Much loved classics such as James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were not spared with language related to gender, weight, violence, and mental health such as “fat” and “ugly” altered and removed.

Christie and Dahl’s books aren’t the only ones to be amended, recently classic children’s books such as The Wizard of OzDr Seuss and Little House on the Prairie were slapped with a trigger warning for featuring harmful content as part of a Cambridge University project.

As part of the project, a trigger warning was added at the beginning of text that featured words, phrases, and images considered racist or related to slavery or colonialism.

In a statement to The Daily Mail, Cambridge University said the aim of the project is to make content “less harmful in the context of a canonical literary heritage that is shaped by, and continues, a history of oppression”.

The move to slap children’s books with warnings was met with criticism by interest groups and authors.

The Campaign for Real Education’s, Chris McGovern said the “point of much of children’s literature is to introduce them to alternative worlds”.

“Fairy tales, for example, are saturated with scary characters and that is partly the point of them. Only woke-afflicted adults have such silly notions as trigger warnings,” McGovern said.

American children’s author, Judy Blume also opposed the move to censor children’s literature.

“All books, then, need trigger warnings because in any book there could be something to bother somebody,” she said.

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