Sunday, February 26, 2023

License To Edit: Ian Fleming's James Bond Books Scrubbed By ‘Sensitivity Experts’ Ahead Of 70th Anniversary

I recently reread an old short story by one of my favorite writers, Ernest Hemingway. In My Old Man, Hemingway called one of the characters “the wop.”

Even though I’m half-Italian and I grew up and currently reside in a predominantly Italian American neighborhood in South Philadelphia, I did not take offense. I knew that was the way people spoke in the early part of the Twentieth Century. I also knew that Hemingway loved Italy and loved Italians.

Just as I knew that Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn used authentic language from his time. I also knew that Mark Twain's sympathies lay with the black slaves of his time, despite the fact that he was a Southerner.     

I don’t believe we should judge those from an earlier time based on today’s prevalent attitudes. One should consider historical context before passing judgement.   

The same with the late, great thriller writer Ian Fleming, another one of my favorite writers. 

Even as a pre-teen, when I first read his James Bond thrillers, I knew that his racial descriptions and attitudes towards women were typical of those of his generation and the British class system. 

I was not offended.

Easily offended readers are not Ian Fleming’s core readership, then or now.         

The New York Post reports that the Ian Fleming Foundation, run by Fleming’s family, have decided to edit Flemings’ novels from the 1950s and early 1960s.  

It’s a move that might leave some fans shaken.

Ian Fleming’s James Bond books have been rewritten with modern audiences in mind, with so-called sensitivity experts removing a number of racial references ahead of 007’s 70th anniversary this spring, The Sunday Telegraph reported.

The changes come as books by Roald Dahl have also been scrubbed of potentially offensive language, including “fat” or “ugly” characters — and tweaked so as to make the Oompa Loompas of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” gender-neutral.

All of Fleming’s thrillers — from “Casino Royale” to “Octopussy” — will be re-released this spring after Ian Fleming Publications, the company that owns the literary rights to Fleming’s work, commissioned a review by “sensitivity readers.”

The altered texts will come out this April ahead of 007’s 70th anniversary The altered texts will come out this April ahead of 007’s 70th anniversary

©United Artists/Courtesy Everett Collection

The new versions of the classic novels will include a disclaimer that reads: “This book was written at a time when terms and attitudes which might be considered offensive by modern readers were commonplace.” 

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

James Bond books scrubbed by 'sensitivity experts' ahead of 70th anniversary (

Thankfully, I have all of Ian Fleming’s original fiction and non-fiction books in my library.  

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