A leading Ontario school board has asked teachers to remove one of Agatha Christie’s best-known books from its syllabus because of alleged antisemitic references.
The Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) has asked teachers to stop requiring pupils to read Christie’s And Then There Were None.
In a press statement, a UCDSB spokesperson pointed out that the best-selling crime novel was no longer “relevant or engaging.”
The spokesperson added that the book was removed from a summer-school course last July after offensive content was pointed out. This includes a reference to a character named “Mr. Morris” who is referred to in the book as “little Jew” and “Jew-boy” and as having “thick, Semitic lips.”
Its removal from curricula was to ensure that texts used in schools were not discriminatory, the spokesperson noted.
The book’s original British title featured an anti-black slur using the N-word. It was first published under that title in 1939. In North America it was published in 1940 under the title And Then There Were None. At different times, it has been titled Ten Little Indians, as well as being sold in the UK with its racially offensive title until 1985, when it was universally retitled as And Then There Were None.
It is the highest-selling crime novel in histor,y having sold more than 100 million copies, and Christie is one of the best-selling writers of all time. However, she has been criticised for xenophobia and anti-Jewish racism that includes her use of antisemitic tropes in several of her books.