Charles wrote: The text of the three stories in 'Classic Black Magic from Dennis Wheatley' is not in every respect the same as the original published text. Whereas the Wordsworth editions (for example) reproduced all of DW's phraseology for good or ill, in this new (and rather fine looking) omnibus, some of the phrases that would be found offensive or unintelligible by modern audiences have skilfully been replaced.
It is, I think, quite understandable that the publishers should have decided to do this - after all, they don't want to alienate their audience.
I assume--without going into detail--that most of these alterations are to DW's casually racist references, the kind of thing which has caused similar editing of even such children's classics as the Dr Dolittle and Mary Poppins books. (I read recently that Agatha Christie's agent gave her American publisher permission to do this without even consulting her. Don't look to see Ten Little Indians
in the Collins 'original jacket' reprint series any time soon...)
And it's not--as we've said before--the first time this has happened. We know that Red Eagle
lost an entire chapter in its later editions, and that To the Devil--A Daughter
has rarely appeared in its original text after the first printing.
With the books now stored in digital form, to search and replace offensive words is the matter of a few keystrokes. I am, like Steve, of two minds about this, but I think there's a difference between say, Mark Twain's use of the N
-word to tell us something about ourselves, and DW's use of it, which just tells us about him.
I assume Steve knows that there is
a modernized version of The Devil Rides Out
, updated and trimmed of a few thousand words by Alison Sage, in the Hutchinson "Fleshcreeper" series. They were underestimating young readers, who happily pore over 600 pages of Harry Potter...