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When Will Authors Stand Up to ‘Sensitivity Readers?’

We need giants like Stephen King, Margaret Atwood and more to defend art

It’s happening again, just as every sane soul predicted.

The “sensitivity readers” have targeted Agatha Christie and “updated” her classic novels for a more enlightened age. Yes, some people believe 2023 is enlightened.

Really.

The mystery maven’s prose is being reassembled to protect readers from scary words that may make them uncomfortable. And we cannot have that, can we?

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 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 reportedly 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.”

The author’s classic works have inspired recent films like “Murder on the Orient Express” and “Death on the Nile.”

Official Trailer | Death on the Nile | 20th Century Studios

How many movies have the sensitivity readers’ inspired? No, any remake of “1984” doesn’t count.

The Christie changes come after similar “updates” for iconic authors Ian Fleming and Roald Dahl.

Censorship in Roald Dahl books considered ‘cultural vandalism’: Piers Morgan

Conservatives are consistently outraged by these changes, but they hold little cultural sway at the moment. Liberals, who rule the arts, mostly stand down during these Orwellian attacks. They fear the aggressive Left will punish anyone who disagrees with its radical worldview, so they stay quiet.

And they have a point.

What about the authors? Literary giants must realize their words are next … if not today then a tomorrow that will arrive sooner than later. Aren’t they concerned about this trend and what it does to creativity? What commonplace words will be considered offensive tomorrow?

We’re already seeing a move to ban white people from employing “digital blackface,” a phrase that didn’t exist five minutes ago.

So far, we’ve heard little outrage from famous authors. Salman Rushdie, hounded for decades for writing the “wrong” stories and who nearly died after a vicious attack last year, condemned the censorial scourge.

Most prominent authors are standing down.

RELATED: ANDRES SCHULZ: THE FUTURE IS OWNERSHIP, NOT CENSORSHIP

A look at prolific Tweeter Stephen King’s social media musings finds no mention of Fleming, Dahl or Christie. The far-Left author once backed down when the woke mob targeted him for praising excellence, not diversity. He may not have the stones to stand up for art this time ’round.

And then there’s Joyce Carol Oates.

The mind behind “Blonde,” “them” and “Wonderland” is a steady Twitter user, and she did address the latest censorship regarding Christie.

And she’s not outraged in the slightest.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” author Margaret Atwood shared several Tweets referring to “banned books” on her Twitter account but hasn’t commented about the censorship of beloved authors in recent weeks.

So what’s stopping this from happening again, and again?

The Christie censorship is coming from a literal powerhouse – HarperCollins. They can do what they please unless they face backlash from authors demanding they stop what they’re doing.

A little public shaming should do the trick.

Without that, nothing will change. We’ll see more authors’ work changed for modern times, and free expression will suffer yet another body blow.

8 Comments

  1. “We need giants like Stephen King, Margaret Atwood and more to defend art.”

    Do you even hear yourself speak? Atwood and King are Bolsheviks, eager to spearhead the cultural destruction.

  2. This shows how the far left is every bit as awful as the far right. The very idea of sanitizing books (Agatha Chrisite!) is an unbelievable outrage. The conservatives are right on this one – but no so fast…. they are banning books THEY don’t like altogether.

    It’s all about extremism – and it is wrong no matter it be left or right.

    1. Paul, my understanding of what “the conservatives” are doing is keeping certain books they deem inappropriate out of school libraries. While you may not agree with that action, it is not quite the same as banning a book altogether.

  3. In 2012, an elderly amateur artist decided she could fix a fresco (Ecce Homo) in the Church of Santuario de Misericordia in Borja, Spain. Lacking the skill of the original artist, the elderly woman ruined the fresco. The fresco still portrays the same subject, but it is now a caricature of the original art. In much the same way, these “sensitivity reader” editors are making a mockery of the original authors. If the authors wrote something that didn’t age well for some reason, so be it. If these editors think they are so great, why not skip the middleman and write original works of art themselves?

  4. Orwell has it nailed. Pretty good, for a socialist.

    Joyce Carol Oates embracing censorship is disappointing. Unless it’s the highly offensive words and phrases — and we know what they are when the cringe effect takes place — the author’s text should be left the way it was written. These writers didn’t water down their language for a reason; maybe it was the times they lived in or how they really felt doesn’t matter. The works were published that way. For some latter day wokester to come along and make changes to suit their ‘sensibilities’ is offensive by itself.

    1. You know, it’s possible the “cringe effect” was an intended reaction. I’ve read Ian Fleming’s “Live and Let Die,” and my eyes did get wide reading some of the passages. However, “highly offensive” is a subjective thing. I’ve read a lot of Arthur C. Clarke, and he rarely missed a chance to belittle religion and a belief in God. If the editor’s shoe was on another foot, would taking out all of Clarke’s denunciations make them better books?

  5. “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.” ― George Orwell, 1984

    This is an alarming trend. I can’t say I’m shocked at authors bending the knee on this one. Everyone saw what happened to JK Rowling. Like Hollywood actors and most creatives today, they all live in fear of the woke mob coming for them next. This is exactly what the Marxists want, a compliant and meek populous that will do as they are told. Consume content and get excited for next content.

  6. One of my favorite commentators, Michael Malice, is paving the way in this regard by showing that an author can self-publish his own book and not have to nervously look over his shoulder worried about some 23-year-old purple-haired, tongue-ringed, neck-tattooed spoiled suburban brat staffer throwing a fit over a phrase or two in his manuscript.
    The solution is the parallel economy, and authors can self-publish. If you can’t plow through the iceberg, go around it.

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