Agatha Christie’s classic detective novels edited to remove potentially offensive language


Written by Toyin Owoseje, CNN

Novels by “Queen of Crime” Agatha Christie are the latest classic works to be revised to remove racist references and other language considered offensive to modern audiences.
According to the UK’s The Telegraph newspaper, publisher HarperCollins has edited some passages and entirely removed others from its new digital editions of some of Christie’s detective mysteries featuring Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.

The amendments to the books, published between 1920 and 1976, the year of Christie’s death, include changes to the narrator’s inner monologue. For example, 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 of the new version.

Throughout the revised version of the short story collection “Miss Marple’s Final Cases and Two Other Stories,” the word “native” has been replaced with “local,” The Telegraph reports.

A passage describing a servant as “black” and “grinning” has been revised and the character is now simply referred to as “nodding,” with no reference to his race.

And in the 1937 novel “Death on the Nile,” references to “Nubian people” have been removed throughout.

The Telegraph reports that HarperCollins released some of the reissues in 2020, with more set to be unveiled.

CNN has contacted HarperCollins and Agatha Christie Ltd., the company that handles the late author’s literary and media rights, for comment.

Changes to the source material come after it emerged last month that Roald Dahl‘s classic children’s books had received similar treatment.

The changes to Dahl’s books divided fans of works including “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “James and the Giant Peach,” with some arguing that rewriting classic literature is a form of censorship.

Publisher Puffin responded to the controversy by announcing that it would release two versions — one amended and one classic — to give readers “the choice to decide how they experience Roald Dahl’s magical, marvellous stories.”


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