James Bond Novels to Be Reprinted With Racist Language Removed
On the heels of the controversy over Roald Dahl’s children’s books, the publishers of the James Bond novels have announced that the upcoming reprinting of Ian Fleming’s spy series will also have derogatory and racist language removed from the original text.
While the editing of Dahl’s books focused on making the text less offensive and more inclusive, the language being removed from Fleming’s novels — including the repeated use of the N-word in Let and Let Die — is clearly more hurtful; Fleming himself approved the changes to the U.S. printing of that novel prior to his death in 1964.
Like with the Dahl books, sensitivity readers pored over Fleming’s 007 novels ahead of the reprinting that celebrates the 70th anniversary of Casino Royale, the Telegraph reports. On their recommendation, the racist and stereotypical language was largely taken out of the James Bond books.
In Live and Let Die, for example, the N-word was replaced with “Black person” or “Black man,” while other passages that were racially insensitive were also toned down; a segment describing accented dialogue as “straight Harlem-Deep South with a lot of New York thrown in” was also removed.
“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,” the publishers said in a statement.
“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. We encourage people to read the books for themselves when the new paperbacks are published in April.”
However, not all of the derogatory language was expunged: Disparaging remarks about the Korean henchman Oddjob remains, as does calling homosexuality a “stubborn disability” and relishing “the sweet tang of rape,” the Telegraph reported.
The edited Fleming novels will carry the 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.”
Earlier this week, in response to the uproar over the editing of Dahl’s children’s novels, the late author’s publishers announced they would release a “classic” version of the books with the original text alongside the more inclusive edited printing, giving readers an option to choose between the two.