Agatha Christie novels edited to remove offensive references to Jews

JTA – Publishing company HarperCollins has revised dozens of novels by famed British mystery writer Agatha Christie to remove references to Jews and other minorities that sensitive readers find offensive.

The editorials, first reported by the British Telegraph on Sunday, add Christie to a growing list of authors whose work is becoming familiar to contemporary audiences.

Roald Dahl, the children’s book author who has apologized for his anti-Semitism, recently revised versions of his book to remove potentially offensive language.

Christie, whose mid-century detective novels featuring the characters Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, was one of the best-selling fiction writers of all time, and several of her books included references to Jews that prominent critics found antisemitic. She also included racist language that was more common during her time of writing, including the use of anti-Black terminology and the term “Oriental” to describe characters of Asian heritage.

According to the Telegraph report, descriptions of characters as Jews, Blacks or “gypsies” have been scraped from numerous books. In one example, Poirot’s description of a character as “Jew, of course” in “The Mysterious Affair at Styles,” has been deleted.

The Forward noted in a 2020 analysis that immediately after World War II and the Holocaust, Christie authorized her publisher in the United States to remove other language about Jews that the company deemed controversial. The Guardian reported that at least one of his book titles was changed to remove racist language in the 1970s.

“As her acquaintances increased and she grew to understand what Nazism really meant to the Jews, Christie abandoned her generational anti-Semitism,” wrote Gillian Gill in her 1990 book “Agatha Christie: The Woman and Her Mysteries.”

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