James Bond novels edited to remove racist content
After Roald Dahl text editing controversy that has erupted in the last few days is now the turn Ian Fleming‘S James Bond novels are rewritten.
A report from the British newspaper The Telegraph reveals that ahead of the Bond novels reprint in April to mark the 70th anniversary of Casino Royale, the first book in the series, rights holders Ian Fleming Publications Ltd.
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Each book carries the disclaimer: “This book was written at a time when terms and attitudes that modern readers might find offensive 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,” said The Telegraph.
A commonly used pejorative term used for black people by Fleming, whose Bond books were published between 1951 and 1966, has been almost completely removed and replaced with “Black Person” or “Black Man”. In other cases, references have been edited.
In Live and Let Die (1954), for example, Bond’s opinion of Africans in the gold and diamond trade as “pretty law-abiding guys I should have thought unless they drank too much” was changed to “handsome law-abiding fellows, should have.” I should think.”
Another scene in the book, set during a striptease at a Harlem nightclub, originally read, “Bond could hear the audience gasping and grunting like pigs at a trough. He felt his own hands grip the tablecloth. His mouth was dry.” This was changed to “Bond could feel the electrical tension in the room”. A segment in the book describing the accented dialogue as “straight Harlem-deep south with a lot of New York” was removed.
Ethnicity was removed in several of the books, including Thunderball (1961), Quantum of Solace (1960), and Goldfinger (1959). The edits of the US edition of Live and Let Die were authorized by Fleming himself. Fleming died in 1964.
Ian Fleming Publications told The Telegraph: “We at Ian Fleming Publications have reviewed the text of the original Bond books and decided that our best course of action would be to follow Ian’s lead. We made changes to Live and Let Die that he himself authorized.
“Borrowing Ian’s approach, we looked at the occurrences of several racist terms in the books and removed a number of individual words or replaced them with terms that are more accepted today but correspond to the time the books were written.
“We’re encouraging people to read the books for themselves when the new paperbacks come out in April.”
diversity has reached out to Ian Fleming Publications for comment.
The James Bond films are one of the highest-grossing franchises of all time, grossing $7.8 billion. The last film, No Time to Die, released in 2021, marked Daniel Craig’s retirement from the role.
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