Clive Bull 1am - 4am
Perhaps it was inevitable the inclusivity police would come for Queen of Crime Agatha Christie
28 March 2023, 09:56
Perhaps it was inevitable it would reach Agatha Christie...
She may be the Queen of Crime but there was no way that the creator of much-loved characters such as Miss Marple and Poirot could survive a visit from the inclusivity police intact.
No author is safe from the revisionists who seem intent on rewriting all classic literature to 'remove potentially offensive language' and make it fit for the modern age.
So far, victims of this literary purge include William Shakespeare and Ian Fleming. Even children's favourites Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl have faced the ire of the modern censors and their trigger warnings.
This week we learned Poirot's description of another character as 'a Jew, of course' in Christie's debut novel 'The Mysterious Affair at Styles' has been stripped out while the reference to 'Nubian people' in 'Death on the Nile' has been removed.
The word 'native' has been replaced with 'local' throughout the revised version of the short story collection 'Miss Marple's Final Cases and Two Other stories.'
In recent years Thomas The Tank Engine has been updated. Where Rev Audry's original was centered on the island of Sodor, new characters include Ashima, from India, and Yong Bao, from China. The Fat Controller is now known as Sir Topham Hat, in deference to those who consider ‘fat-shaming’ to be a hate crime.
This is not to say for one moment that these are perfect.
Few children who grew up in the 1980s can forget Ringo Star telling viewers that it was fair enough when the Fat Controller entombed a weeping Henry for refusing to get his paint wet.
But that is the point.
We all know that James Bond is a character of his time, certainly in the original novels, even though the film adaptations have always evolved to reflect modern attitudes.
History is not an exact science and views and recollections change over time.
But that doesn't mean that we should rewrite it. We should learn from it, appreciate it or dislike it depending on our own point of view.
My message to publishers and today's authors. If you want the literature to reflect your own world view build up some modern writers. Let's see how good they are.
Do not impose intolerance on writers who are far greater than you can ever be.
If they want literature to reflect their own worldview, they should write their own books.
And each generation should...