The absurdity of revising everything
We cannot understand ourselves without the books we have read, without the texts that have accompanied us during our childhood, without the stories that made us dream of strange worlds, with fantastic characters that took us to other places, other cities, other times. Worlds invented by an author who wanted to tell us a different story. That he or she imagined that story in a very concrete, very precise context and that, without that context, his or her work would not be the same.
No, we would not be the same without all that reading that has accompanied us and that is why it is complicated to understand that a publisher like Penguin decides to revise Roald Dahl’s texts to correct what, now, is considered politically incorrect. Forty or fifty years ago there was neither the correctness nor the sensitivity that we can have now. for how a child might feel if you called him fat, or ugly, tall or shorter. No, there wasn’t. You called a child who was fat mercilessly fat. And in part of the story told by Roald Dahl in Charlie and the Chocolate Factorythe child’s innocence was reflected in the “wickedness” of the person who called him that. Nor did anyone question the fact that the protagonist of a story only read books written by men because for years, women writers were counted on the fingers of one hand and, the few that there were, had hardly any public projection. No, nobody missed it, nobody was scandalized because Matilda did not read women writers.
Cultural revisionism begins to be a real nonsense. Because if we start with the children’s books of one of the most widely read authors, we will continue with those of the Brothers Grimm and move on to all the movies of our childhood, the Disney films and the cartoons we used to watch –Candy Candya love story for 10-year-old girls, for God’s sake, but what a scandal!
I was listening the other day to Agustín Alcalá, Onda Cero’s correspondent in the United States, that this, the revising and retouching of books and the language of children’s books, also can be explained by the election season we are in.. It sounds like an unthinkable nonsense but there is a logic behind it: next year there are elections in the United States. Biden’s reelection is at stake and here too the votes of those who do not want to see themselves as the executioners of anyone, neither of Latinos nor of blacks nor of Arab migrants, are at stake. Let’s stop telling parts of the story that leave us in a very bad place and let’s forget the insignificant details, those that made everything that happened different and special. Special because of the unprecedented, because of the brutal, or special, in Dahl’s case because of the way he created a magical world with his stories.. Charlie will stop having that perverse, mischievous touch when he stops calling the protagonist fat and calls him huge. It will be much more correct, yes, but much less funny.