Roald Dahl-Style Posthumous Edits Are Coming to James Bond Novels

Something about this seems very familiar...

James Bond
A scene from "Dr. No."
MGM Studios/Courtesy of Getty Images

Earlier this year, news emerged from the U.K. that several of Roald Dahl’s children’s books were being reissued with certain language updated, cut or otherwise altered. (Dahl was infamously misanthropic and anti-Semitic.) This was the rare event that united readers across the political spectrum, nearly all of whom declared that it was a terrible idea. Eventually, Dahl’s publisher Puffin decided to compromise and offer both the edited versions and the original versions for sale. But now, there’s a new writer set for posthumous edits — Ian Fleming. Specifically, several of his James Bond novels.

This isn’t going to go well, is it?

As Variety reports, Ian Fleming Publications Ltd. worked with sensitivity readers to edit certain passages in several of Fleming’s James Bond novels. The new editions are being prepared for the 70th anniversary of the novel Casino Royale, as reported by The Telegraph.

The novels will also carry 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.”

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According to the article, the edits to one of the books — Live and Let Die — were made by Ian Fleming prior to his 1964 death. And there have been some instances of artists revisiting their work after years or decades. Still, there’s a big difference between an artist making these changes and an artist’s estate doing the same.

It’s not hard to see this playing out in a similar manner to the Dahl controversy: a lot of vitriol featured online, followed by an announcement that multiple versions of Fleming’s books will be made available. It would be a new spin on You Only Live Twice, that’s for sure.

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