James Bond Novels Rewritten to Remove Racist Language

Actors Roger Moore, Yaphet Kotto, Julius W.Harris and actress Jane Seymour, on the set of “Live And Let Die.”
Actors Roger Moore, Yaphet Kotto, Julius W.Harris and actress Jane Seymour, on the set of “Live And Let Die.”

Since Daniel Craig announced that he was walking away from the role of James Bond, Hollywood has been buzzing about who could take his place. Here at The Root, we even weighed in with a few Black actors we wouldn’t mind seeing step into the iconic role.

But for everything there is to love about the fast-driving, martini-drinking ladies’ man, you’ve gotta admit that there is just as much that is cringeworthy about some of the story lines – including racist and sexist language and imagery.

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Now, The Telegraph is reporting that Ian Fleming Publications Ltd, the company that owns the literary rights to the Bond series, has finally acknowledged the offensive content and is trying to right some of its wrongs. The company commissioned a sensitivity review of Fleming’s classic spy novel series before the books are reissued in April in honor of the 70th anniversary of “Casino Royale.” And as a result, Fleming’s books, originally published between 1951 and 1966, have been rewritten to remove negative racial imagery and mentions of the N-word.

According to The Telegraph, each book will include the disclaimer, “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, while keeping as close as possible to the original text and the period in which it is set.”

Ethnicities have been removed in “Thunderball,” “Quantum of Solace,” and “Goldfinger.” There will also be edits to the U.S. edition of “Live and Let Die,” which were authorized by Fleming before he died in 1964.

In a statement, Ian Fleming Publications told The Telegraph: “We at Ian Fleming Publications reviewed the text of the original Bond books and decided our best course of action was to follow Ian’s lead. We have made changes to ‘Live and Let Die’ that he himself authorized. Following Ian’s approach, 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. We encourage people to read the books for themselves when the new paperbacks are published in April.”

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