Being Offensive is an Essential Part of Roald Dahl's Books
they teach children about the feelings we aren't proud of
You have no doubt heard about the viral controversy regarding the rewriting of Roald Dahl’s books, to make them more
commercial sensitive. I have tried to avoid the topic, as it’s been discussed to death and my feelings are predictable - you can already guess that I’m against the changes, the people who read me already agree, and the people who disagree would never listen to me anyway. I also feel that Alan Jacobs has laid things out pretty comprehensively.
The immediate and most important point: buy your kid a different book. Just buy your kid a different book! There are tens of thousands of children’s books out there that are inoffensive by anyone’s definition. Just buy those books. Exercise your choice. Not everything is made for you. I get that people feel that they are nothing but their consumption, that they have no identity but that which they buy. But not everything is for you. Buy something else. Buy something else!
I also feel compelled to make another point, a deeper one. Some defenders of the original language have taken the tack of suggesting that Dahl’s work is not in fact offensive. I think this is plainly wrong, and more importantly, misunderstands what’s so appealing to children about Dahl’s books. Kids love his books precisely because they’re offensive; his humor and his stories and language are of course compelling, but the grotesque is a fundamental part of his appeal. Dahl’s books aren't incidentally rude or accidentally mean. Their tendency to petty cruelty and derogatory descriptions of characters are baked right in. Dahl’s talent for being entertainingly mean is legendary, and core to the fun.