Tom Hanks is strongly against rewriting classic books to cater for ‘modern sensitivities’

Hollywood’s all-round nice guy Tom Hanks has hit out at book publishers changing classic novels over fears the dated texts might offend modern people.

Hanks, who was voted as Forbes’ most trustworthy celebrity in 2014 thanks to his dependable image, is doing the press rounds for his second novel,The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece.

He sat down with BBC Radio 4 to chat about all things literature.

His book is ‘a wildly ambitious story of the making of a colossal, star-studded, multimillion-dollar superhero action film, and the humble comic book that inspired it all’, as per Penguin.

Write about what you know, as they say.

Anyway, the actor turned author had a bone to pick with book publishers during his chat with the BBC’s Mark Lawson.

Hanks believes classic novels should not be rewritten or censored to reflect modern sensibilities.

Instead, they should be left as they are.

“I’m of the opinion that we’re all grown-ups here and we understand the time and the place and when these things were written,” Hanks said.

“And it’s not very hard at all to say: ‘That doesn’t quite fly right now, does it?’ So let’s have faith in our own sensibilities here, instead of having somebody decide what we may or may not be offended by.”

The Forrest Gump actor said people should have the freedom to choose which media they consume.

“Let me decide what I am offended by and not offended by,” he said.

He then doubled down, adding: “I would be against reading any book from any era that says ‘abridged due to modern sensitivities’.”

Hanks’ comments come in the wake of several examples of censorship in classic literature.

The company that publishes Roald Dahl’s books – Penguin, under the Puffin label – said that an alternate classic collection will be released that will ‘keep the author’s classic text in print’.

This comes after a backlash from many who disagreed with the decision to rewrite the books.

In 2020, they hired sensitivity writers and worked with children’s literature collective Inclusive Minds to go back into Dahl’s works and review the author’s language so the books ‘can continue to be enjoyed by all today’.

As well as Dahl, Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels will also be rewritten in order to protect modern readers from the language in the original books.

Each copy will now come with a disclaimer: “This book was written at a time when terms and attitudes which might be considered offensive by modern readers were commonplace.”






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