James Bond books edited to remove racist references

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  • Posts: 1,043
    chrisisall wrote: »
    My U.S. Berkley 80's edition has chapter 5 as 'Seventh Avenue' and I'm more than okay with that since the author himself okayed it.

    Yea, that makes it okay. What's not okay is the statement from the publishers that "Fleming would have okayed these new edited 2023 editions". Because we don't know. He might, he might not. Just don't tell us you know for definite these new censorships are Fleming approved. We're not that daft.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,730
    chrisisall wrote: »
    My U.S. Berkley 80's edition has chapter 5 as 'Seventh Avenue' and I'm more than okay with that since the author himself okayed it.

    Yea, that makes it okay. What's not okay is the statement from the publishers that "Fleming would have okayed these new edited 2023 editions". Because we don't know. He might, he might not. Just don't tell us you know for definite these new censorships are Fleming approved. We're not that daft.

    Yep. I hate those slippery slopes...
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 23,836
    chrisisall wrote: »
    My U.S. Berkley 80's edition has chapter 5 as 'Seventh Avenue' and I'm more than okay with that since the author himself okayed it.

    Yea, that makes it okay. What's not okay is the statement from the publishers that "Fleming would have okayed these new edited 2023 editions". Because we don't know. He might, he might not. Just don't tell us you know for definite these new censorships are Fleming approved. We're not that daft.

    I resent the publishers' claim that Fleming would have been okay with it, to be honest. The world was so much different then than it is today. Who is to say how an author who died in 1964 would have responded to the politics of 2023? He knew very well that his words were edgy sometimes, even then. And yet those are the words he submitted for publication. Fleming was okay with offending people, especially in his first few novels. He did nothing in his life to return to LALD and "clean up" the book himself, at least not to this extent. Had he really felt the need to do so, I like to think that he would have.
  • edited March 2023 Posts: 2,904
    Fleming also consented to change the American paperback titles of CR and MR to You Asked For It and Too Hot to Handle. It's obvious that he consented to these changes and those in LALD purely because he was eager to break into the American market. It doesn't mean that he preferred them (his letters suggest he didn't, contrary to what IFP says), and the edits were confined strictly to the US. And after Fleming became successful in the US his books were left alone, aside from the usual British-to-American English changes. Real progress was made in 2003, when the original British texts were finally published in the US. But now...
  • NickTwentyTwoNickTwentyTwo Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts: 7,527
    For some reason I thought these new Fleming editions were the same as the Fleming-approved US edits?

    The 2019 Folio edition is true to the UK version, including the (quite harmless) Carl Van Vechten chapter title nod.
    I think they're all true to the UK firsts, I've read them all except the current FYEO, and couldn't find any difference.

    Niggerheaven.jpg

    I know the folios are, wondering about the new Fleming Estate publications; I thought these censored versions were Ian approved US edits.
  • edited March 2023 Posts: 2,904
    I know the folios are, wondering about the new Fleming Estate publications; I thought these censored versions were Ian approved US edits.

    LALD is reverting to the American version (even in the UK and Canada apparently), but according to the Telegraph DN, GF, and TB are all receiving new edits unauthorized by Fleming, which eliminate not just plainly racist material but even mentions of the characters' ethnicity. As for what books aren't being censored, we only know that CR will be left alone, according to IFP.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 18,006
    Casino Royale gets left alone. So "the sweet tang of rape" is perfectly fine then? It just goes to show how arbitrary and silly these "sensitivity reader" edits are. If they feel they have to mess with the text (as if we are in the optimum time in history to be the moral superior of those in times past) then I'd rather they didn't publish the books again at all.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,730
    DarthDimi wrote: »
    chrisisall wrote: »
    My U.S. Berkley 80's edition has chapter 5 as 'Seventh Avenue' and I'm more than okay with that since the author himself okayed it.

    Yea, that makes it okay. What's not okay is the statement from the publishers that "Fleming would have okayed these new edited 2023 editions". Because we don't know. He might, he might not. Just don't tell us you know for definite these new censorships are Fleming approved. We're not that daft.

    I resent the publishers' claim that Fleming would have been okay with it, to be honest. The world was so much different then than it is today. Who is to say how an author who died in 1964 would have responded to the politics of 2023? He knew very well that his words were edgy sometimes, even then. And yet those are the words he submitted for publication. Fleming was okay with offending people, especially in his first few novels. He did nothing in his life to return to LALD and "clean up" the book himself, at least not to this extent. Had he really felt the need to do so, I like to think that he would have.

    DarthDimi, fetch my shoes. ;)
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 23,836
    chrisisall wrote: »
    DarthDimi wrote: »
    chrisisall wrote: »
    My U.S. Berkley 80's edition has chapter 5 as 'Seventh Avenue' and I'm more than okay with that since the author himself okayed it.

    Yea, that makes it okay. What's not okay is the statement from the publishers that "Fleming would have okayed these new edited 2023 editions". Because we don't know. He might, he might not. Just don't tell us you know for definite these new censorships are Fleming approved. We're not that daft.

    I resent the publishers' claim that Fleming would have been okay with it, to be honest. The world was so much different then than it is today. Who is to say how an author who died in 1964 would have responded to the politics of 2023? He knew very well that his words were edgy sometimes, even then. And yet those are the words he submitted for publication. Fleming was okay with offending people, especially in his first few novels. He did nothing in his life to return to LALD and "clean up" the book himself, at least not to this extent. Had he really felt the need to do so, I like to think that he would have.

    DarthDimi, fetch my shoes. ;)

    Remember, three times is enemy action. 😉
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Casino Royale gets left alone. So "the sweet tang of rape" is perfectly fine then? It just goes to show how arbitrary and silly these "sensitivity reader" edits are. If they feel they have to mess with the text (as if we are in the optimum time in history to be the moral superior of those in times past) then I'd rather they didn't publish the books again at all.

    Exactly, @Dragonpol. It is too arbitrary. They are not concerned with modern sensitivities in general but with a select few sensitivities. They can't leave the text alone but they can't do their cleaning job well either.
  • NickTwentyTwoNickTwentyTwo Vancouver, BC, Canada
    edited March 2023 Posts: 7,527
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Casino Royale gets left alone. So "the sweet tang of rape" is perfectly fine then? It just goes to show how arbitrary and silly these "sensitivity reader" edits are. If they feel they have to mess with the text (as if we are in the optimum time in history to be the moral superior of those in times past) then I'd rather they didn't publish the books again at all.

    It does all seem quite illogical.

    As I said before, I think I’d be okay if they amended LALD only, but any more and it does feel like arbitrary cherry picking.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,730
    Is "the sweet tang of rape" anything like what proctologists do?
  • brinkeguthriebrinkeguthrie Piz Gloria
    Posts: 1,400
    See, this is what I think we may see with Amazon/Kindle.
    g25TWnD.png
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited March 2023 Posts: 18,006
    chrisisall wrote: »
    Is "the sweet tang of rape" anything like what proctologists do?

    To say nothing of the "All women love semi-rape. They love to be taken." line from the TSWLM novel. I mean, I kind of know what Fleming was getting at there but still. It doesn't go down quite so well in the #metoo era.

    I see that this topic has made its way into the newspapers too:

    https://news.yahoo.com/sweet-tang-rape-offensive-language-103106452.html
  • GoldenGunGoldenGun Per ora e per il momento che verrà
    Posts: 6,858
    It appears, at least over here in Belgium, people aren’t getting as upset by the notion of censoring Fleming as they were with Roald Dahl.

    The Dahl discussion was reported on several times in our media with many literature experts standing up and stating that one just does not alter Dahl’s texts so that they could fit in today’s world for 100%.

    Concerning Fleming, there has been one news article and one column, at least in the newspaper that I read. Considerable less fuss has been made in relation to the same thing but with different authors.
  • NickTwentyTwoNickTwentyTwo Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts: 7,527
    I can understand Dahl getting much more press. He's probably more popular in the mainstream, and his books are marketed towards children.
  • Posts: 2,400
    Christ. 200+ comments. If only racism elicited a modicum of the amount of outrage on these boards that making Live and Let Die readable does.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 18,006
    Christ. 200+ comments. If only racism elicited a modicum of the amount of outrage on these boards that making Live and Let Die readable does.

    It was perfectly readable as it was. It breezes along with the "Fleming sweep" probably better than any other Bond novel in the series.
  • j_w_pepperj_w_pepper Born on the bayou. I can still hear my old hound dog barkin'.
    edited March 2023 Posts: 8,824
    Christ. 200+ comments. If only racism elicited a modicum of the amount of outrage on these boards that making Live and Let Die readable does.
    While I don't think that those novels need that "sanitizing", I have a lot of sympathy for your point of view, @StirredNotShaken. When first reading LALD about 15 or so years ago, I already thought that much of it was borderline, at least for today's readership. Even then, I wondered if the n-word (and I don't mean "negro") should have been used, and why the (what is now called) Black characters were invariably identified as such, while "white" characters were just characters.

    Still, I think that being aware of that and having the actual misgivings and doubts that arose in me while reading it (same with the "Chigroes" in DN, by the way, and on a similar level the "sweet tang of rape" etc.) also helps to put the entire thing in perspective. But it is also more important that we oppose racism, fascism and misogyny in current works than cleaning up literature from past centuries where the mindframe was quite different, sad as it may look from today's point of view.
  • edited March 2023 Posts: 1,043
    If someone were to write a novel now about, for example, the very right-wing skinhead movement in the 70's, and in the novel, the characters would inevitably be using racist language, would it get published I wonder?
    This is what worries me. The reader of such a book would understand that the dialogue contained within would be a fictional interpretation. But would the text not pass these 'sensitivity readers' criteria?
  • j_w_pepperj_w_pepper Born on the bayou. I can still hear my old hound dog barkin'.
    Posts: 8,824
    If someone were to write a novel now about, for example, the very right-wing skinhead movement in the 70's, and in the novel, the characters would inevitably be using racist language, would it get published I wonder?
    This is what worries me. The reader of such a book would understand that the dialogue contained within would be a fictional interpretation. But would the text not pass these 'sensitivity readers' criteria?

    I don't think that really compares. If someone writes about the skinheads or whomever using racist language, it's a different story from the writer using racist language himself. But that (from today's point of view, whatever one thinks of it) is what Fleming did in places, instead of just quoting characters doing the same thing. I can cope with that, I know how to classify it, and I can attribute it to the mindset of the fifties. But it doesn't mean it is ok to repeat it today as the opinion of the author, who should be more enlightened by now.
  • edited March 2023 Posts: 2,904
    Christ. 200+ comments. If only racism elicited a modicum of the amount of outrage on these boards that making Live and Let Die readable does.

    If you were to make a racist statement on this board, plenty of people would be outraged and you would be very quickly disciplined and kicked out. Moreover, plenty of people on this board are outraged by racism in the real world, but this is a James Bond message board, not a forum devoted to societal problems.

    And since this a James Bond message board, fans will naturally be upset when the Bond novels (not just LALD) are censored by a new publisher, regardless of the cause. Many of us hold the principle that an author's works shouldn't be tampered with after publication.

    And if you happen to think that LALD is unreadable without being sanitized for your protection, then IFP's new editions will be right up your nice safe alley. On the other hand, they won't cover up the fact that you're reading edited editions that lie about and try to cover up the author's actual attitudes. And they won't help you properly contextualize the novels and deal with them as a whole first-hand. Nor will they help you deal with the fact that many works of literature from the past contain offensive and objectionable elements, something every mature adult reader has to deal with.
  • Posts: 12,353
    I remember an instance where one prejudiced member made some very mean comments about gay people, and I remember they were removed and I think he was banned. We don’t tolerate bigotry around here, no one I know here is cool with it when one odd thing pops up once in a while.
  • Posts: 2,161
    Yes, decorum is kept on these threads, or we attempt to. But these (novels) contain characters in a book, espousing points of view through dialogue, or implying a world view through internal musings. How can any boundary be acceptable?
  • edited March 2023 Posts: 1,043
    Birdleson wrote: »
    But these (novels) contain characters in a book, espousing points of view through dialogue, or implying a world view through internal musings. How can any boundary be acceptable?

    This is the point I was making earlier, when imagining a modern novel set in 70's skinhead culture. Would the characters obviously racist language be censored on such a book?
    When Solitaire is on the train with Bond, she makes reference to those "n*gger gangsters", which I assume will be censored. Yet it's not the writer's narrative they're censoring, it's the characters words. In fact, I think the few times that word is used in the book outside the infamous chapter title, (itself a homage to another book), the word is always spoken by a character. Ironically, it's only uttered once by Bond and even then he's pulled up on his usage by Felix.
    And I remember something about Koreans being a 'cruel race'. That's Goldfinger I assume, and also in the thoughts of Bond? Even 'every woman loves semi-rape' from tswlm was in character. Fleming isn't telling us every woman loves semi-rape. Vivien is.

    If I could get a free kindle download of these books, it'd be interesting to see what changes they've made.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 23,836
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Christ. 200+ comments. If only racism elicited a modicum of the amount of outrage on these boards that making Live and Let Die readable does.

    It was perfectly readable as it was. It breezes along with the "Fleming sweep" probably better than any other Bond novel in the series.

    I agree. It is perfectly readable. An unreadable book is a poorly written book. Other than that, an author's words are his own. If they elicit strong negative emotions in me, then I stop reading (which has never happened so far), but I wouldn't call the book unreadable.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,730
    DarthDimi wrote: »
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Christ. 200+ comments. If only racism elicited a modicum of the amount of outrage on these boards that making Live and Let Die readable does.

    It was perfectly readable as it was. It breezes along with the "Fleming sweep" probably better than any other Bond novel in the series.

    I agree. It is perfectly readable. An unreadable book is a poorly written book. Other than that, an author's words are his own. If they elicit strong negative emotions in me, then I stop reading (which has never happened so far), but I wouldn't call the book unreadable.

    This is very interesting. A character using the N-word is very different from the author using the N-word in a chapter title IMHO. In one instance you can blame the character, but not in the other. I'm just glad to own the U.S. version of LALD.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 18,006
    chrisisall wrote: »
    DarthDimi wrote: »
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Christ. 200+ comments. If only racism elicited a modicum of the amount of outrage on these boards that making Live and Let Die readable does.

    It was perfectly readable as it was. It breezes along with the "Fleming sweep" probably better than any other Bond novel in the series.

    I agree. It is perfectly readable. An unreadable book is a poorly written book. Other than that, an author's words are his own. If they elicit strong negative emotions in me, then I stop reading (which has never happened so far), but I wouldn't call the book unreadable.

    This is very interesting. A character using the N-word is very different from the author using the N-word in a chapter title IMHO. In one instance you can blame the character, but not in the other. I'm just glad to own the U.S. version of LALD.

    That chapter title wasn't even really Fleming's own either. It was the name of a novel by Carl Van Vechten, a leading author in the Harlem Renaissance. Fleming was alluding to this with the chapter title and the scene where Bond overhears the black man and woman talking.
  • j_w_pepperj_w_pepper Born on the bayou. I can still hear my old hound dog barkin'.
    Posts: 8,824
    chrisisall wrote: »
    DarthDimi wrote: »
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Christ. 200+ comments. If only racism elicited a modicum of the amount of outrage on these boards that making Live and Let Die readable does.

    It was perfectly readable as it was. It breezes along with the "Fleming sweep" probably better than any other Bond novel in the series.

    I agree. It is perfectly readable. An unreadable book is a poorly written book. Other than that, an author's words are his own. If they elicit strong negative emotions in me, then I stop reading (which has never happened so far), but I wouldn't call the book unreadable.

    This is very interesting. A character using the N-word is very different from the author using the N-word in a chapter title IMHO. In one instance you can blame the character, but not in the other. I'm just glad to own the U.S. version of LALD.

    I have the British version and as I said before, I was somewhat appalled by the use of "the n-word". Nevertheless, I think I can handle the wording (especially since I was appalled). There's no more need to correct this in Fleming's writing than there is to purge the word from Tarantino's movies, which would be half an hour shorter than before in that case.
  • edited March 2023 Posts: 2,904
    chrisisall wrote: »
    This is very interesting. A character using the N-word is very different from the author using the N-word in a chapter title IMHO. In one instance you can blame the character, but not in the other. I'm just glad to own the U.S. version of LALD.

    I'm curious if you've read the original version. The use of that word in the chapter title is a quote from one of the characters in that chapter, and the character in turn was quoting the title of a book that would have been well-known at the time.

    These are the sort of things that annotations and contextual notes are good for, and yet another reason why IFP went in the wrong direction with their 70th anniversary editions.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,730
    Revelator wrote: »
    chrisisall wrote: »
    This is very interesting. A character using the N-word is very different from the author using the N-word in a chapter title IMHO. In one instance you can blame the character, but not in the other. I'm just glad to own the U.S. version of LALD.

    I'm curious if you've read the original version. The use of that word in the chapter title is a quote from one of the characters in that chapter, and the character in turn was quoting the title of a book that would have been well-known at the time.

    These are the sort of things that annotations and contextual notes are good for, and yet another reason why IFP went in the wrong direction with their 70th anniversary editions.
    I've only read the U.S. version that Fleming okayed. I don't know the book the original title came from...
    "Az you vere unaware of theese, vee shall continue." - Largo 2.0
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