Roald Dahl's beloved Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, and the occasion is being marked with hints of controversy from both a half-century ago and today: a chapter that didn't make it into the final version–it was considered too scandalous and immoral for British children of the 1950s–was printed in The Guardian on Saturday, and the cover of the new edition, published as a Penguin Modern Classic, has been roundly criticised as more appropriate for Valley of the Dolls or Lolita. (Making Dahl's name even more ubiquitous is a recent uproar over the use of the word "slut" in another of the author's books, Revolting Rhymes.)
The previously unseen chapter of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory reveals some of the major changes that were made before the final draft went to print. Initially, Charlie brought his mother, not his grandfather, along for Willy Wonka's tour, and was joined by eight other children instead of four. In the unpublished chapter featured in The Guardian, two unruly boys nearly meet a gruesome end: after clambering onto the wagons that transport chunks from a fudge mountain, Wilbur Rice and Tommy Troutbeck disappear off to "The Pounding And Cutting Room", to the horror of their parents. Willy Wonka reassures them, in the least reassuring and most Wonka-esque way, that there's a strainer in place for just this sort of occasion, and it's always worked: "At least it always has up to now." It's probably better for Wilbur and Tommy that they didn't make the novel's final cut, in more ways than one.