You can rewrite Roald Dahl’s books, but you can’t rewrite his history of antisemitism

Roald Dahl's books are undergoing rewrites to make them more palatable to modern young readers. (Photo by Rob Bogaerts / Anefo / Wikimedia Commons)

Over the past week, news broke that the novels of Roald Dahl were being rewritten to match modern sensibilities and remove language that some people have deemed offensive. These changes—which came at the behest of the Roald Dahl Story Company and Puffin, the books’ publishing house—were ostensibly made to make the books better representative of, and more approachable for, diverse audiences.

While the publishers can rewrite the book, however, they can’t rewrite history: namely, that Dahl himself was a self-proclaimed antisemite. Is changing a few words an effective cover-up for the author’s more problematic ideals? To get to the core of the issue, we’re joined by YA author Joanne Levy.

Plus, Avi and Phoebe chat about Michael Steinhardt’s tarnished legacy and Phoebe’s latest article on the intersection between feminism and aging.

What we talked about

  • Read Phoebe’s article “Hag feminism is the future” at Unherd
  • Read about Michael Steinhardt’s exile from the antiquities world at New York Magazine
  • Hear Joanne Levy discuss her book I’m Sorry For Your Loss on Bonjour Chai in Nov. 2021


Bonjour Chai is hosted by Avi Finegold and Phoebe Maltz Bovy. Zachary Kauffman is the producer and editor. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Socalled. The show is a co-production from The Jewish Learning Lab and The CJN, and is distributed by The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, please watch this video.