Tattle Tales

Volume 3, Number 3

Agatha Christie
By Agatha Christie plaque -Torre Abbey.jpg: Violetriga derivative work:
F l a n k e r - Agatha Christie plaque -Torre Abbey.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0


Harper Collins publishing house is traveling down a dangerous road of censorship when it hired “sensitivity readers” to censor certain words that are not in their woke dictionary by changing descriptions in Agatha Christie’s novels in order to satisfy contemporary standards for “modern audiences.”

In re-releasing Miss Marple novels, Hercule Poirot stories and some of her most famous works they decided to change words like: “black servant” to just “servant,” “a gypsy type” to “a young woman,” and “Indian temper” to “his temper,” and so on so as “not to offend younger audiences."  But the younger audiences are not really this market for these old stories.  

The reason a writer uses colorful descriptions of a character or a location is to evoke emotions in the readers to have them despise or love the characters. How many of us sobbed out loud when Beth died in Little Women?  Or, cheered when the prostitute in Pretty Woman got her man? Removing multicolored descriptions of a character’s ethnicity not only interferes with what the author had in mind, but renders the sentence banal. This would be tantamount to changing a Van Gogh painting because his sunflowers express a deranged mind, and we must be sensitive to the mentally ill.   

Striving for a one-world order may be the desires of the woke industry (and yes it is a business) but in reality it will not work as people are reluctant to relinquish their cultures full of religion, music, food, idiomatic expressions, and other traits that give them a sense of belonging and comfort.  It is a big colorful world out there and we writers describe what we see and we feel. We are not distracted by what others might think. 

Agatha is the best-selling author of all times who not only sold millions of books in many different languages, but was a genius with her craft, and to have some editor destroy her work in the name of increased sales to a new audience is merely a disguise for their identity politics.

One must remember the times Agatha wrote about.  She wrote her first novel in 1916, and she does an excellent job of infusing the reader with the atmosphere of the locales, in Death on the Nile, Murder on the Orient Express, with the smells and tastes of foreign adventures.  Whitewashing an insult to appease a small percentage of the population or changing outdated terms is ruining a perfectly good story.  Harper Collins is wrong in trying to immerse politics into prose.  Art is supposed to entertain, to make us relax and transport us to another dimension, not to pontificate the realities of a changing world.  She did not write about 2023, and just like in Gone With The Wind, she emphasizes the conditions of older times, good and bad.

The publisher telling the public that it is changing Agatha’s words so as not to offend is merely an excuse for censure.  “Them are fightin’ words” started many a fist fight in cowboy films with chairs flying across the bar, and words can start a revolution, but in Agatha Christie’s novels her words are sacrosanct and not to be eliminated.  Harper Collins owes an apology to all her fans for interfering in her novels that have entertained millions for 107 years.