I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO READING HERCULE POIROT’S WINTER SOLSTICE SEASON: Agatha Christie novels reworked to remove potentially offensive language.
The updates follow edits made to books by Roald Dahl and Ian Fleming to remove offensive references to gender and race in a bid to preserve their relevance to modern readers.
The newspaper reported that the edits cut references to ethnicity, such as describing a character as black, Jewish or Gypsy, or a female character’s torso as “of black marble” and a judge’s “Indian temper”, and removed terms such as “Oriental” and the N-word. The word “natives” has also been replaced with the word “local”.
Among the examples of changes cited by the Telegraph is the 1937 Poirot novel Death on the Nile, in which the character of Mrs Allerton complains that a group of children are pestering her, saying that “they come back and stare, and stare, and their eyes are simply disgusting, and so are their noses, and I don’t believe I really like children”.
This has been stripped down in a new edition to state: “They come back and stare, and stare. And I don’t believe I really like children.”
Why not simply add an introductory note from the publisher that “times change, as does language, and we apologize in advance for any offensive phrases in this novel,” rather than siccing the Ministry of Truth’s airbrushes on Christie, and other deceased novelists?