Racist passages removed from James Bond books

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Passages that the publisher believes are racist in the English-language books by writer Ian Fleming about James Bond will be removed or amended in a new edition, according to the newspaper The Telegraph.

Publisher Ian Fleming Books invited a group of sensitivity readers to examine the classics, as recently happened with Roald Dahl’s books. These proofreaders check texts for content and word choice that may be sensitive.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the first James Bond story, Casino Royale, which is why new editions of all Bond titles are being released.

In the new version, the n-word will no longer be used, according to the British newspaper. That is replaced by descriptions such as “black person”. Also, characters’ ethnicity has been omitted in some passages.

Custom passages

The Telegraph gives some examples of other edited passages, although the publisher has not yet commented on these. For example, in the original text of Live and Let Die (1954), a group of African men working in the gold and diamond industry stated that they were “pretty law-abiding fellows, in my opinion, unless they’d had too much to drink (pretty law-abiding chaps, I should have thought, unless they’ve drunk too much).” In the new version, according to The Telegraph, “unless they had drunk too much” was omitted.

When author Fleming (1908-1964) was still alive, he gave permission for some erotic passages to be removed from his books or censored for American editions.

Ravages of time

He also agreed to adjust some racist passages in Live and Let Die. Following Ian’s approach, we looked at examples of racist terms in the books.

“We have removed some words or changed them to words that are more accepted today, but in line with the period in which the books were written.”

Some texts that have not withstood the test of time have survived. Bond once speaks of “these garrulous women who think they can do a man’s job”. A passage describing warts, alcoholism and “homosexual tendencies” as “obstinate limitations” also stands.

Commonplace

In the new edition of the books, according to the newspaper, it is written in an explanation that the books were written at a time when terms that are now considered offensive were commonplace and that some passages have been modified.

There was a stir last week after the English publisher Puffin announced that it had adapted parts of Roald Dahl’s children’s books. Among other things, the words “fat” and “ugly” were omitted from the description of a character.

After the commotion that arose about this, the publisher decided that the original editions would remain available alongside the new texts. The Dutch publisher of Dahl’s books does not change the translated texts for the time being.

  • Books Roald Dahl also remain available in original version
  • Sensitivity readers bring Roald Dahl ‘up to date’, Dutch publisher critical
  • Roald Dahl books edited to use ‘offensive’ language
  • Culture & Media

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