James Bond Novels Edited, Racist References Removed

The James Bond novels have been rewritten so that a number of racial references from Ian Fleming's work were removed. There will be a rerelease of all the author's thrillers featuring 007 in April to celebrate 70 years since Casino Royale, the first book in the series, was published. Ian Fleming Publications Ltd, the company which holds the literary rights to many of the author's works, has commissioned sensitivity readers to review the classic texts under its control to recommend improvements, according to The Telegraph. The outlet reported that the reissued texts will include 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." In Fleming's books, some of the depictions of black people had been reworked or removed due to the changes. There are still dated references to other ethnicities, such as Bond's use of racial terms for East Asians and Goldfinger's insensitive remarks about Oddjob, Goldfinger's Korean henchman.

References remain to the "sweet tang of rape," "blithering women," unable to do a "man's work," and homosexuality as a "stubborn disability." Consequently, Bond's opinion in Live and Let Die that potential African criminals in diamond and gold trades are "pretty law-abiding chaps I should have thought, except when they've drunk too much" changes to "pretty law-abiding chaps I should have thought" in the sensitivity reader version. When Fleming was writing during the Fifties and Sixties, he used the word "n—" to refer to black people, but most instances of the word are now gone from the revised versions of the books, Telegraph reported.  Generally, this descriptor is replaced by "black person" or "black man" in most cases, but racial descriptors may be dropped entirely in some contexts as well. In Dr No, for example, some criminals who escape Bond's pursuit are simply referred to as "gangsters." The outlet noted that in the same novel, the race of a doctor and an immigration officer is now unmentioned, as is the race of a henchman shot by Bond. 

There has been a history of Bond literature being tweaked before to suit different markets. Fleming gave his blessing to editor Al Hart to tone down the sex scenes in certain Bond novels for American audiences. Furthermore, the author permitted US publishers to tone down racial references in Live and Let Die. Ian Fleming Publications said, "We at Ian Fleming Publications reviewed the text of the original Bond books and decided our best course of action was to follow Ian's lead. We have made changes to Live and Let Die that he himself authorized. "Following Ian's approach, we looked at the instances of several racial terms across the books and removed a number of individual words or else swapped them for terms that are more accepted today but in keeping with the period in which the books were written. We encourage people to read the books for themselves when the new paperbacks are published in April." This comes after another famous author's works were subject to editing. As a result of cultural sensitivity experts hired by Puffin, passages from Roald Dahl's books were purged after the publisher had advised the institution to make changes. After a backlash, the publisher announced Friday that it would reissue his books uncensored.