'Offensive' books that have been rewritten

From "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" to "James Bond"

Stack of books.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Gettyimages)

Editing previously published books to remove content some might deem offensive is not new. In fact, there's a word for retroactively removing sensitive content: "bowdlerization," named after Thomas Bowlder, an English editor who published expurgated versions of Shakespeare's work. While the book's frontispiece says, "nothing is added to the original text; but those words and expressions omitted which cannot with propriety be read aloud in a family," Bowlder still faced backlash for what some considered censorship that tainted the classic literature.

Modern publishers often enlist sensitivity readers' to help to screen literature for potentially offensive material, especially for children's books. While some argue that the practice is a form of extreme censorship, others say it promotes diversity in publishing. Though it's more common for publishers to use sensitivity readers for future work, some have utilized their services to help identify published books that might need edits.

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