Offensive language removed from Agatha Christie books

So-called ‘Sensitivity Readers’ have stripped books of language and descriptions offensive to modern audiences, particularly in descriptions of characters and populations that Christie’s protagonists encounter outside of England. As of 2020 modified versions are only visible in editions published by the publisher HarperCollins.

References to race have been dropped in newer versions. Think about describing a character as black, Jewish or gypsy. A female character’s torso is no longer described as “made of black marble”, a judge is no longer of the “Indian character”, and terms such as “Oriental” and “Negro” have been dropped.

Something similar happened with passages deemed racist in new releases of James Bond books. It was announced at the end of February that these had been replaced or removed. Publisher Ian Fleming Publications Ltd., rights reserved, original texts reviewed by a panel of proofreaders. As a result of that evaluation, new versions were created, including a disclaimer.

It was previously reported that British publisher Puffin had changed hundreds of passages from British copies of Roald Dahl’s books so that Dahl’s works could be “enjoyed by everyone”. For example, in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory a character is no longer “fat” but “big”, in the same book the Oompa Loompas are gender neutral and in The Twits the female protagonist is not described as “ugly”.

See what you want, where and when you want.

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