UPDATE MARCH 8: Contrary to first reports, R.L. Stine did not perform these edits! Rather, the publisher, Scholastic, employed the changes. Have some decency, he is not yet in the ground!
Whether or not you find it creepy for the disembodied hands of sensitivity readers to fiddle with the works of late authors, you must attend to edits of Goosebumps with the knowledge that the author is well and alive.
Deadline reports that R.L. Stine, whose spooky middle-grade novels first delighted children in the 90s, has been working to revise old editions, replacing language like “six chins” with less fatphobic alternatives, and slightly misogynistic terms like “love tap” and “wolf whistle” with a spell and a loud whistle, respectively. The edits aim to improve the texts via more sensitive language around weight, ethnicity, mental health, and other evolving topics.
There have been 100 edits so far to books like Attack of the Jack-O’-Lanterns and I Live in Your Basement! (One thing that has aged well? The titles. These are great titles.)
Obviously, questions of authorship and legacy are bigger than can be dissected in this humble post, but let us turn for a moment to Edward Said, who in speaking of the need to redress language formed in a previous age, wrote, more or less, that: “I believe no one writing, thinking, or acting on [evil garden gnomes] could do so without taking account of the limitations on thought and action imposed by [evil garden gnomes].”
A trusted friend and editor once told me every writer has at least one sentence in a published work they dearly wish they had deleted. The good news: It’s never too late!