Following the news that edited versions of many of Roald Dahl’s novels are being released to shield modern readers from language that was deemed offensive, the estate of another iconic British novelist is following suit.
According to a new report in The Sunday Telegraph, new editions of Ian Fleming’s original James Bond novels that omit offensive passages are set to be released this spring by Ian Fleming Publications. The report claims that Fleming’s estate worked with “sensitivity readers” to flag and remove what they see as language that reflects outdated attitudes about race.
Ian Fleming Publications claims that Fleming himself was on board with the inclusion of less offensive racial language, and approved the changes to “Live and Let Die” before he died in 1964. Many of the changes reportedly involve replacing various pejorative terms for Black people with “Black person” or “Black man.”
“We at Ian Fleming Publications reviewed the text of the original Bond books and decided our best course of action was to follow Ian’s lead. We have made changes to ‘Live and Let Die’ that he himself authorized,” a spokesperson for Ian Fleming Publications told The Sunday Telegraph. “Following Ian’s approach, we looked at the instances of several racial terms across the books and removed a number of individual words or else swapped them for terms that are more accepted today but in keeping with the period in which the books were written.”
The re-published Bond novels will include a disclaimer: “This book was written at a time when terms and attitudes which might be considered offensive by modern readers were commonplace. A number of updates have been made in this edition, while keeping as close as possible to the original text and the period in which it is set.”
The news comes at a moment of increased cultural sensitivity in the publishing industry, but also when the James Bond movie franchise is trying to reinvent itself. Franchise producer Barbara Broccoli is in no rush to find a new 007 actor as she and her team try to decide the next direction to take the series in. She has ruled out the possibility of a female James Bond, but has said she’ll consider British actors of any ethnicity for the role.
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