There was no avoiding the book news this week - Puffin is seeking to reissue the Roald Dahl books with amended text after being read by sensitivity readers.
Everyone seemed to have an opinion on this - Salman Rushdie, the Prime Minister, the Queen Consort. Matt the cartoonist quipped that the title of one classic was to be changed to 'Charlie and the Quinoa Factory'. The debate filled page after page in the newspapers, day after day, with both serious and wry comments.
Then it seemed some sort of resolution was found as Penguin decided to keep both the original and revised editions in print. Commercially, a winner.
But there was another development today. Ian Fleming Publications, publisher of the James Bond novels, has engaged its own sensitivity readers so will be issuing new editions with references to racism, particularly, removed.
Where will this end? It's a worrying trend, it has to be said. And surely it's better to look at ensuring current and future fiction isn't offensive rather than seeking to revise past publications? As Philip Pullman commented, better to let inappropriate texts slip out of print if they are no longer relevant? And aren't we informed and intelligent enough as an educated nation to realise that times have changed and language and social norms evolve?
However, Roald Dahl revised his books himself. 'And Then There Were None' wasn't the original title of Agatha Christie's novel. An illustration of Peter Rabbit's dad baked in a pie did not appear in the second edition.
Sometimes it is right to amend works with the knowledge and sensitivities we have today. The trouble with the recent reworking of Dahl (and the Bond books from what was reported today), is that many of the changes are just plain silly. How can it stop bullying in the playground by changing the word 'fat' to 'enormous' for example?
Thank you for reading.