James Bond rejigged: The offensive language that has and hasn’t been removed from the books
In the middle of a furore over the rewriting of Roald Dahl’s children’s books for sensitivity reasons, it has now also emerged that Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels are being edited for modern readers.
Many racial references have been removed from the books following a sensitivity review.
Terms such as the N-word, which appeared in his writing in the Fifties and Sixties, have been cut in new editions of the 007 series set for reissue in April.
The move comes after Ian Fleming Publications Ltd, which owns the rights to his work, commissioned a review by sensitivity readers of the novels, The Telegraph reports.
Here’s an overview of the offensive language that’s been removed – and what’s been left in.
In the original 1954 version ofLive and Let Die, Bond states that African criminals in the gold and diamond trades are “pretty law-abiding chaps I should have thought, except when they’ve drunk too much”. The sensitivity reader-approved edition sees the removal of “except when they’ve drunk too much”.
At another point in the tale, 007 visits Harlem in New York, where a strip tease at a nightclub arouses the male crowd, including Bond.
The original passage read: “Bond could hear the audience panting and grunting like pigs at the trough. He felt his own hands gripping the tablecloth. His mouth was dry.”
But the revised section replaces the pigs reference with: “Bond could sense the electric tension in the room.”
Another passage detailing Bond’s night out in Harlem – including a row between a couple who Bond describes as speaking in an accent that’s “straight Harlem-Deep South with a lot of New York thrown in” – has been completely removed.
The N-word has been removed in every instance, replaced often by “Black person” or “Black man”.
In several cases, references to characters’ races are removed entirely.
AND YET, STILL IN ARE…
While many depictions of Black characters have been reworked, dated references to other ethnicities remain, such as Bond’s racial terms for east Asian people and his negative perception of Oddjob, Goldfinger’s Korean henchman.
References to the “sweet tang of rape”, “blithering women” failing to do a “man’s work”, and homosexuality being a “stubborn disability” are also still in the books.
The Bond news comes a week after it emerged that Dahl’s books were being rewritten to remove language considered offensive.
The word “fat”, for example, had been cut from all pages. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory‘s Augustus Gloop is instead described as “enormous”.
On Friday (24 February), the Queen Consort forced publisher Puffin UK to back down on its censorship of the author’s work after she weighed in on the row.