James Bond Novels Are About to See a Tweak

Ian Fleming's books on 007 are being reissued, with a lot fewer racial references
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2023 11:32 AM CST
James Bond Novels Are About to See a Tweak
This undated publicity photo shows Sean Connery, left, as James Bond in a scene from the 1963 film "From Russia With Love," based on the book by Ian Fleming.   (AP Photo/United Artists and Danjaq LLC)

First Roald Dahl's books went under the editing pen; now, Ian Fleming's. This April, all of Fleming's novels featuring his most famous character, James Bond, will be reissued to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the series' first book, Casino Royale. But the text will be somewhat different than that found in the original books, after sensitivity readers hired by Ian Fleming Publications, the rights holder to the novels, found racial references that "might be considered offensive" to today's readers, per a disclaimer cited by the Telegraph.

The AV Club notes the changes "all seem to be specifically related to Fleming's depiction of Black people," including the n-word being "almost entirely expunged" and replaced with "Black person" (the AV Club snarks on the "almost"), and other racial labels being removed altogether. Still, "dated" references to other ethnicities remain, per the Telegraph, as well as mentions of "blithering women" and referring to homosexuality as a "stubborn disability." The "sweet tang of rape" also gets to stay in.

In a statement, Ian Fleming Publications notes that, after a review of the originals, it "decided our best course of action was to follow Ian's lead," adding that Fleming himself had given the thumbs-up to changes made to Live and Let Die before he died in 1964. The group added: "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." Variety notes that the James Bond films—based on Fleming's novels and with their own altered dialogue—have made nearly $8 billion globally. (After backlash, Dahl's publisher announced it will print two sets of his books: one with the original text, and one with the edits.)

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