Noted novelist Salman Rushdie has spoken out about the censorship of the James Bond novels earlier this year.
In February, it was announced some of Ian Fleming’s spy novels would be rereleased with alterations to some of the text, including the omission of the n-word, changes to a striptease scene, and other generally outdated terms.
Rushdie has condemned these replacements as “comical”. Speaking to the Telegraph, he explained: “The freedom to publish, of course, is also the freedom to read, the freedom to write what you want, to be able to choose what you want to read and not have it decided for you externally, and the freedom to publish books that ought to be published and sometimes are difficult to publish because of pressure from this or that group.”
He went on to say that the classic spy novels should be “accepted as products of their time”.
The 75-year-old scribe added: “If that’s difficult to take, don’t read them.”
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Speaking specifically about James Bond, Rushdie explained: “I have to say the idea that James Bond could be made politically correct is almost comical.”
He stressed that he feels these changes must be “resisted”.
“Books have to come to us from their time and be of their time,” he continued. “And, if that’s difficult to take, don’t read them. Read another book, but don’t try and remake yesterday’s work in the light of today’s attitudes.”
Fleming’s reissued books reportedly came with a disclaimer which read: “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,” it went on. “While keeping as close as possible to the original text and the period in which it is set.”
The changing of Fleming’s novels followed alterations made to some Roald Dahl books.
Similar changes could be on the way to the silver screen, as well. The latest Bond odds on who may replace Daniel Craig in the role of James Bond in the next 007 movie include a few people of colour; which is significant considering the character has traditionally been played by white men since Bond’s inception.
Paapa Essiedu is currently third in the running with Ladbrokes with a staggering 4/1 odds on claiming the role. Bridgerton hunk Regé-Jean Page also has great odds with 9/1.
Bond boss Barbara Broccoli herself has commented: “[James Bond] can be of any colour, but he is male. I believe we should be creating new characters for women – strong female characters. I’m not particularly interested in taking a male character and having a woman play it. I think women are far more interesting than that.”