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And All The Time You Could Feel Your Heart Beating Along The Wounds
July 22, 2008 5:36 PM   Subscribe

Roald Dahl (1916-1990) is probably best known as one of the principal architects of the 20th century children’s fairy tale, with such sly, savage and addictive masterpieces as The Enormous Crocodile, The Witches, The BFG, and personal favourite The Twits.

But if puberty saw you leaving him behind on your shelves with Enid Blyton and Judy Blume, you are doing yourself a profound disservice, for Dahl is also one of the few true masters of the modern short story. Some are grotesque, some are heart-wrenching, some thrilling, others hilarious (1, 2, 3), and all of them compelling and beautifully crafted. Be sure not to miss his two volumes of autobiography. Oh, and did you know he wrote a James Bond film?
posted by turgid dahlia (70 comments total) 60 users marked this as a favorite

 
I won't ask about the similarities between your handle and Dahl's name, but still, nice post.
posted by JHarris at 5:39 PM on July 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


I loved his short stories. The punchlines are really unforgettable.
posted by kolophon at 5:46 PM on July 22, 2008


And of course Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But the second book, Charlie and Great Glass Elevator was pretty terrible, IMO. I read it my kids and found that the entire thing is WRITTEN IN A MONOTONE SHOUT WITH CARDBOARD CHARACTERS EVEN FOR A KID'S BOOK. The Twits was marginally better. Incredible Mr Fox (or whatever it's called), having an actual plot, is much better. James and the Giant Peach is good on imagination, but thin again on plot.

I think we own some Dahl shorts and that I've read them. But if so, it was a while ago and I don't remember well.
posted by DU at 5:48 PM on July 22, 2008


Thanks JHarris. I reread his Collected Short Stories around this time every year, and thought that for the few amongst us who might be aware of him only as a children's author, his "adult" stuff is just too good not to share. It's a shame about the dearth of his work available online - I tried hard to find more, honest! - hence the admittedly distasteful preponderance of Amazon and Wikipedia links.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:49 PM on July 22, 2008


Thanks for this post, dahlia. That short stories link is going to wind up being my goto link for subway reading material when I'm between books for at least a couple months. I've always been a Roald Dahl fanboy, so that's a real treasure trove.
posted by JaredSeth at 5:49 PM on July 22, 2008


Oh, and did you know he wrote a James Bond film?

No, I didn't, and that's really interesting! That movie holds a special place in my heart: I saw it the year it came out, as a 10-year-old, with my dad. It was a fairly racy movie to take a 10-year-old to (especially in 1967 Alabama) and looking back, I think it was a bit of a rite of passage. My pop was letting me grow up a little. Of course, the "Bond girls" were a real eye-opener, and that scene where one space ship just opens its huge jaws and swallows up another one (a spaceship kidnapping out in space), well, I thought that was about the coolest thing I'd ever seen.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:51 PM on July 22, 2008


I'm really really sorry to let you down JaredSeth, but sadly, those are only prescis of the stories, not the stories themselves. A sin, I know. I could find only a grand total of three on the entire internets. I should probably stop commenting on my own post now.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:52 PM on July 22, 2008


I liked Glass Elevator. Then again, I was nine.
posted by rokusan at 5:54 PM on July 22, 2008


I liked Danny, the Champion of the World when I was a kid. Later in life, I read "The Champion of the World." Then I read "Pig." Then I stopped eating meat for a while.
posted by infinitewindow at 6:07 PM on July 22, 2008


I have one of his books of this nature on my shelf, Kiss Kiss. At some point early on in my adolescence I put down his kids stuff and began looking for everything he did in short stories. Dahl wrote with a real touch of the macabre when he did these short stories - though they probably aren't exactly shocking in this day and age (not sure if they ever were), but all in all they are all great little reads.
posted by nudar at 6:12 PM on July 22, 2008


Some of my favourite Dahl shorts: Lamb to the Slaughter, A Piece of Cake (great wartime tale) and The Swan, which is terribly haunting.

Hell, I need to dig out my Dahls and read them again!
posted by andraste at 6:19 PM on July 22, 2008


Thanks, Dahlia! A few extra stories: "The Landlady," "Dip in the Pool," and "Poison" (one of my favorite Dahls, for the beautiful management of suspense).

Dahl also produced a television show called Way Out, a sort of alternative Twilight Zone that he hosted from behind a mist of cigarette smoke. I posted some links to individual episodes a while back.
posted by Iridic at 6:19 PM on July 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


I just finished Skin and Other Stories a few weeks ago, and it was great.
posted by joannemerriam at 6:22 PM on July 22, 2008


Yeah, I've always liked his short stories quite well. His anti-Semitism, not so much.
posted by OmieWise at 6:30 PM on July 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Not only did he write a James Bond movie, he also co-wrote the screenplay for Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang, which was (extremely) loosely based on the children's book by Ian Fleming. The Child Catcher was his creation.

Hmm, now that you mention his anti-Semitism...
posted by hippugeek at 6:37 PM on July 22, 2008


No worries, Dahlia. I'll have to grab a paperback. Just glad of the reminder.

Oddly enough, Roald Dahl was the subject of the very first conversation my mother ever had with me about antisemitism. I had brought home Charlie and the Chocolate Factory from the library and for some reason, she decided that that was as good a time as any to tell me about "people, like Roald Dahl, who hate Jewish people". I think I may have been about 8 or 9 years old at the time, didn't really get it, and read and loved the book. And a few of his others. And a bunch of his short stories. I couldn't see how anyone who did such a great job of entertaining me could possibly dislike me. I think it really pissed her off.

Mind you, my brother owns a BMW. You don't even get her started on that.
posted by JaredSeth at 6:49 PM on July 22, 2008


I think the swan story is the best short story I've ever read. It made a tremendous impression on my as a small child, and stood up well to rereading when I took another look at it the other year.

There are a few writers, like Dahl, EB White, and some others, who have the knack for writing for children without writing down at them. Despite having sold a lot more copies, the Harry Potter books I've read were really pallid in comparison, like putting The Bridges of Madison County next to Anna Karenina.

If I ever managed to write even a tiny fraction as well as Dahl did, I would consider it a true accomplishment
posted by Forktine at 6:58 PM on July 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the anti-Semitism bothers me. But I love his writing. I love how they're subtly sadistic and creepy (which is also why I like the latest C&TCF movie, because it captured that subtle scariness well).

Has anyone read The Great Automatic Grammatizator? Really fun book (if very strange!).
posted by divabat at 7:10 PM on July 22, 2008


The next Wes Anderson movie is a stop-motion animation adaptation of Dahl's The Fantastic Mr. Fox. I've been collecting tidbits about it at my blog for the last year or so, but there's really not that much information out there yet.
posted by gerryblog at 7:11 PM on July 22, 2008


Wow, what a flood of nostalgia. Seems like my entire childhood was littered with Roald Dahl in one way or other, from reading Matilda and The Witches as a small kid and loving them, to acting in a dramatization of The BFG in middle school. I even vaguely remember listening to James and the Giant Peach as an audio trip on a road trip somewhere in the United States. The first introduction to his short stories was a collection of short stories meant for young adult readers -- The Great Automatic Grammatizator and Other Stories (I agree, divabat, very fun!). I soon graduated from that to his adult short stories with their weird, macabre endings. I owned a copy of his complete short stories that I seemed to constantly leave at people's houses and frantically start searching for. Which reminds me, it's probably time to buy another copy.
posted by peacheater at 7:31 PM on July 22, 2008


My favorite Roald Dahl books were Matilda (which has a totally, totally cute movie version) and The Witches (I seem to remember a good movie of this as well. I also remember that witches don't have toes.). I'll definitely check out these short stories! Thanks so much for this post!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:34 PM on July 22, 2008


I remember the sudden burst of recognition for one of his short stories, when I watched Quentin's bit in Four Rooms. I found it amusing that Roald's original story was much creepier, and gore-y, than Tarantino's.
posted by nomisxid at 7:34 PM on July 22, 2008


The Vermicious Knids freaked my shit as a little kid.
posted by EarBucket at 7:40 PM on July 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Everyman's recently came out with a collection of his short stories which triggered a whole bunch of recent book reviews, here is one from the New York Times:
..so many of these tales have endings that depend on cruelty or vengeance. (The title of one of them, “Vengeance Is Mine Inc.,” could stand for many).. At 17 I did not notice the deep vein of misogyny that runs through them; now I can’t miss it.. These stories are never less than enjoyable; most are also utterly heartless. That doesn’t matter: these tales are, for the most part, narrative machines
Stuff like this turned me off from diving into a 888 page Everyman but perhaps one day.
posted by stbalbach at 7:52 PM on July 22, 2008


He's had great luck in the movies, with Henson doing "The Witches" and Danny DiVito's "Matilda"

I think of him as Philip K Dick for kids...
posted by djrock3k at 7:54 PM on July 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


He's had great luck in the movies, with Henson doing "The Witches" and Danny DiVito's "Matilda"

Not to mention Tim Burton's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." He had bad luck, though, with the first movie version (1971) of that one though. He hated it, apparently insisting that the name, at least, be changed to "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory".
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:07 PM on July 22, 2008


My favorite Roald Dahl - The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More.

That is all.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 8:08 PM on July 22, 2008 [3 favorites]


This thread is worthless without the opening credits to Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected, complete with Ron Grainger theme tune.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:22 PM on July 22, 2008


I will be dreaming tonight about uncle Oswald sailing across the desert in his Lagonda motor car, singing opera to pass the time. I happened on a copy of The Visitor that google cached.
posted by gac at 8:54 PM on July 22, 2008


gac: I just started reading that at lunch. It's so fantastic.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:07 PM on July 22, 2008


I know nothing of Dahl's work but expect that the Bond film is not representative.
posted by wrapper at 9:12 PM on July 22, 2008


...but expect that the Bond film is not representative.

It's entirely representative of his work on that particular screenplay.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:22 PM on July 22, 2008


My Uncle Oswald is thoroughly ribald, and not at all a children's story.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:50 PM on July 22, 2008


If you read Dahl's biography you can see why cruelty and vengeance figure so largely - his was not a happy childhood. As for the antisemitism, I'm not sure he was any different from any other public school educated Englishman of his time, and in his account of his wartime experience, I recall reading a description of meeting Jewish refugees that was entirely sympathetic.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:28 PM on July 22, 2008


When I use "BFG" I don't use it for "Big Friendly Giant"... (Well, the "B" does stand for "Big", so I guess one out of three ain't bad.)
posted by Class Goat at 10:42 PM on July 22, 2008


It's more that Dahl had a period of being fanatically pro-Palestinian, one of those embarrassing radical chic things that happened a lot in the 70s.
Given that he did a lot more to fight for the Jewish cause than any of us ever will, being a pilot in WWII and a war hero, I think it's time to drop that label.
posted by w0mbat at 11:04 PM on July 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


When his then wife actress Patricia Neal had a stroke (I think) Dahl cared for her and insisted that she do the things that eventually restored her abilities.
posted by Cranberry at 11:46 PM on July 22, 2008


In 1942 he wrote a book called The Gremlins, which introduced to the world the air force pilot concept of nasty gremlins doing mischief. Disney tried to make it into a movie and failed. Later, one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes Nightmare at 20,000 feet with William Shatner was based on his book.
posted by eye of newt at 12:13 AM on July 23, 2008


Liking or disliking what he wrote based on one standard-issue crank opinion or any other juicy bits of biography you can dig up would be a bit silly. Predictable, but still a bit silly. The words between the covers of his books on your shelf couldn't magically change no matter how many weird things you found out about the guy who wrote them. Maybe he liked sheep. Really liked sheep. Or worse, maybe he ate sheep, and particularly enjoyed nibbling their livers. That wouldn't change what the BFG said and did.

(Similarly, Oprah changed her mind about a very "spiritual" book when it turned out that the author also wrote the "Segregation today! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!" speech for George Wallace. I get why she suddenly isn't comfortable with the book, but it's an irrational dislike. The book, presumably, is still as "spiritual" as it ever was.)

So. Dahl's short stories. I think the ones I've tried all hinged on "Surprise! I bet you never guessed that was coming!" endings of the sort you might get from O. Henry or maybe Saki. I don't recall caring about any of his characters or how fate treated them. It was fate itself you were supposed to care about.
posted by pracowity at 12:28 AM on July 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


eye of newt: I thought that too but maybe a more accurate way of putting it is that Richard Matheson based his short story Nightmare At 20,000 Feet on The Gremlins, and the Twilight Zone episode was subsequently based on the story. Of course, I'm usually wrong.
posted by turgid dahlia at 12:44 AM on July 23, 2008


Oh for f-...the "short stories" link should direct here. It wasn't letting me through when I made the post so I forgot the .php bit at the end. Man, I suck.
posted by turgid dahlia at 1:02 AM on July 23, 2008


His autobiography is also worth reading.
posted by hoskala at 2:20 AM on July 23, 2008


My Uncle Oswald is a great read. I have happy memories of reading Henry Sugar as a kid - and all his stuff really. But his 'adult' short stories are definitely best read at age 12.

Random comment 1: Dahl was apparently such a fucker in his dealings with his publishers (something to do with special bespoke pencils that he insisted on being sent, I seem to remember) that when he decided to take his work elsewhere, the entire office burst into spontaneous cheers.

Random comment 2: Dahl visited my friend's junior school once, and asked my friend - who was naturally a massive fan then - his name. My friend has a slightly silly first name, but Dahl told him it was great name - in fact his son was called that too. My friend was so pleased and excited that he nearly wet his pants.
posted by Mocata at 3:15 AM on July 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's more that Dahl had a period of being fanatically pro-Palestinian, one of those embarrassing radical chic things that happened a lot in the 70s.
Given that he did a lot more to fight for the Jewish cause than any of us ever will, being a pilot in WWII and a war hero, I think it's time to drop that label.


Yeah, that's bullshit. If he was a good writer, call him a good writer. If he was an anti-Semite call him an anti-Semite. I can't think of anything other than ignorance and dishonesty that are served by hiding one or the other based on fashion.

(And he was certainly an anti-Semite, many of his statements about Jews are abhorrent: "there’s a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity . . . I mean there is always a reason why anti-anything crops up anywhere; even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason." I'd say a quote like that definitively demonstrates that his service in WWII wasn't in the service of Jews, whatever else it was.)
posted by OmieWise at 4:02 AM on July 23, 2008


Loved Chocolate Factory as a kid and read it many times.

Here's the shed where he wrote them all.

PeterMcDermott beat to posting the theme from Tales Of The Unexpected which has to be the best title sequence ever and was a total fixture on tv here during the 80s.

I rewatched the first couple of series recently and, most of them, still stand up today. In fact some, like 'Royal Jelly', are total gems. Though I remember it trailed off towards the end with later series, long having got through Dahl's own stories. Recommended just for the creepy, sat by the fireside, introduction from the man himself at the beginning of every episode...

I seem to remember reading (or perhaps it was one of those intros) where he said he spent a long long time writing each short story in order to get it perfect
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:12 AM on July 23, 2008


Dahl was apparently such a fucker in his dealings with his publishers

He seemed to be like that to everyone, pretty much. I lived around a quarter of a mile from his (amazingly cool) house in Great Missenden, as a kid during the late 80s, and used to see him around a fair amount. He was liberal and generous with the sexual swear-words even (especially?) towards young kids. Still, can't say I dislike the grumpy, irascible, sweary old git for it. Like others here, I have a lot of very happy Dahl-related memories. Fun to see that my 4 year old daughter is going the same way, with Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang being two of her most loved DVDs. (Can't imagine why anyone prefers the Tim Burton atrocity over the original - that half-arsed Michael Jackson impression from Johnny Depp still makes me shudder now).
posted by bifter at 4:47 AM on July 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Incidentally, if you're a fan of Dahl's adult short fiction, you would probably also like the works of John Collier, who is (unjustly) much more obscure. I would recommend the collection "Fancies and Goodnights". I think his short story "Thus I Refute Beelzy" came up as a metafilter post a while ago ...
posted by kyrademon at 4:48 AM on July 23, 2008


Liking or disliking what he wrote based on one standard-issue crank opinion or any other juicy bits of biography you can dig up would be a bit silly.

It might not change your opinion of the work. However, there's no reason whatsoever why it shouldn't change your opinion about whether to spend money to enrich the creator of the work, or whether you'd want to endorse it or recommend it to friends.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:01 AM on July 23, 2008


However, there's no reason whatsoever why it shouldn't change your opinion about whether to spend money to enrich the creator of the work

Dahl hasn't had much use for money since 1990. Anything you or your friends spend on his books is going to someone else.
posted by pracowity at 5:14 AM on July 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you want an idea of what Dahl's childhood was like read 'Galloping Foxley' which was supposedly based on his utterly miserable school days
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:58 AM on July 23, 2008


I love Dahl's short stories. They're understated and have a sometimes very subtle irony to them. Edward the Conqueror is a favorite of mine, as is Taste.
posted by farmdoggie at 7:17 AM on July 23, 2008


I loved dahl's books as a kid, and still have a fondness for them today. The anti-semitism was unfortunate, and I recall someone telling me that The Twits was essentially an anti-semitic screed in disguise. Wikipedia, however, makes no mention of it, so who knows.
posted by shmegegge at 7:56 AM on July 23, 2008


Wasn't that 3rd story "Man from the South" the basis for the final scene of 4 Rooms?
posted by LilBucner at 8:09 AM on July 23, 2008


If you want an idea of what Dahl's childhood was like read 'Galloping Foxley' which was supposedly based on his utterly miserable school days

He's fairly explicit about them in his first autobiography, "Boy", as well.
posted by YouRebelScum at 8:16 AM on July 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't think fighting in WWII should be described as "doing service to the Jews," since it did absolutely nothing to prevent six million of them from getting killed. And, anyway, even if all he did was blow up train lines to concentration camps and lead hunted gangs of Jewish teenagers across the border to safety, it doesn't give him a free pass for claiming that Jews control the media.

Anyway, whatever animosity he felt toward Jews doesn't seem to have infected his work. He doesn't hate any one specific group in his writing, but just generally appears to hate everyone.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:39 AM on July 23, 2008


It always really bothered me that no one ever mentions the fact that the first chapter of the Harry Potter series, The Sorcerer's Stone, is almost directly ripped off from Dahl's James and the Giant Peach. I've always been unimpressed with J.K. Rowling after I attempted to read that book and had to put it down because I was disturbed at the plagiarism.
posted by Jess the Mess at 9:15 AM on July 23, 2008


Metafilter's own web-goddess created and has run one of the more complete Dahl fan sites since 1996.
posted by Roach at 10:35 AM on July 23, 2008


I love Roald Dahl for the blatant misanthropy that shines through even in his children's books. There seems to be a lot of "Oh, he hated women," and "Oh, he hated Jews." But what was always clear to me was that the man hated everyone. This is what makes his childrens books so damn refreshing. Certain kids are not utterly loathsome, but usually only because of their overwhelming suffering. That is -- the thesis always seemed to be "Charlie would be as worthless as those other kids if he wasn't too poor to be worthless."

This is even clearer in his adult work, and the short stories most of all.
posted by rusty at 11:15 AM on July 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories scared the crap out of me when I was 10. Didn't sleep for weeks. I still have it, but I remember it being so scary I still don't have the guts to revisit it.
posted by electroboy at 11:18 AM on July 23, 2008


Oddly enough, Roald Dahl was the subject of the very first conversation my mother ever had with me about antisemitism. I had brought home Charlie and the Chocolate Factory from the library and for some reason, she decided that that was as good a time as any to tell me about "people, like Roald Dahl, who hate Jewish people".

I had a similar experience when I was a kid... Except I showed my mom the Roald Dahl book that I intended to borrow before I got to the library counter, and she told me that I wasn't to read his books because he was anti-Semitic, and made me put it back. I wasn't mad or anything, though. I didn't really want to read the book after that.
posted by amro at 11:20 AM on July 23, 2008


If I didn't read books written by people who were somewhat antisemitic, my bookshelf would be smaller by a third.

Of course, I own two hundred copies of Mine Kampf. Just to freak people out.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:33 AM on July 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


That is -- the thesis always seemed to be "Charlie would be as worthless as those other kids if he wasn't too poor to be worthless."

That's exactly why I've always liked his books, and I quickly moved from his kid's books to his adult books. I read many of the short stories early enough that they still lurk in my subconscious as deeply disturbing ur-images that can pull me up short when they flash into my mind. He was clearly a misanthrope of the best stripe.

But general misanthropy is not the same as specific anti-Semitism, and it shouldn't be dismissed as such. It's very much different to say, "I hate everyone," or even to create a despicable character, than it is to subscribe (quite explicitly) to Hitler's view of the Jews. Trying to equate them is pure apologetics for specific hatreds that have horrific consequences the world over. It isn't the people who point out his anti-Semitism (and choose to read his books or not) who do serious appreciation and evaluation of his work a disservice, it's those who choose to dismiss his specific warts in favor of an airbrushed picture (even if just airbrushed into a general bad complexion) of who he was. Indeed, I'd go further and suggest that anyone who claims to be a fan of his dystopian and scary fiction isn't much a fan if they have to preserve the author from the damnation of his own statements.
posted by OmieWise at 11:50 AM on July 23, 2008




I know nothing of Dahl's work but expect that the Bond film is not representative.

Maybe it was representative of his time working with Intrepid?
posted by juv3nal at 12:01 PM on July 23, 2008


I went throuh a big Dahl phase when I was about seven. We were living in France at the time, and getting all our books sight unseen in the mail.

We were midway through reading "The Swan" outloud when my mother realized its target audience might be slightly older than "James and the Giant Peach."
posted by Jeanne at 1:06 PM on July 23, 2008


OmieWise: Didn't mean to airbrush -- it sounds like he was a bastard. And he may indeed have specifically hated Jews (although it sounds to me more like he was attempting to do the Zionism != All Jews two-step, for what that's worth) or women. Or both. I look on it mostly as proving that he was right.

Also, and to sort of expand a little on my rushed initial comment, the value of his literary misanthropy was that he realized you can't make a story out of "people suck." But you can make a lot of truly great stories out of "people sometimes, through a combination of circumstances and perfectly counterbalanced weaknesses, can do good things, despite fundamentally sucking."

So, I'd say he also proved that in his own life and work.
posted by rusty at 1:21 PM on July 23, 2008


I think of him as Philip K Dick for kids...

I'd love to suggest the real McCoy and I understand that Roog became a high school set text.
posted by specialbrew at 3:18 PM on July 23, 2008


Astro Zombie, statistically speaking, don't Jews control most of the media?

Of course, that's a big difference from saying "the Jews control the media"...
posted by vsync at 5:26 PM on July 23, 2008


ARGH. Why do I always miss the Roald Dahl threads? Thanks to Roach for the shout-out though. It gave me a ridiculous thrill to see "Metafilter's own" before my very own username. (And thanks to AgentRocket for the heads up about the thread.)

Yeah, I made the RDF site a long time ago, starting way back in 1996. I got sort of burnt out on it a few years ago. I think it was a lot more useful in the days before Wikipedia and the official Dahl site. I still keep it up as a resource though.

All those little summaries on the short stories page were written by me. As far as I know, there aren't any places where you can read whole texts online. At least, there shouldn't be. The guy only died less than 20 years ago; all his stuff should still be in copyright. I recommend picking up one of the collections though, if you can. Yeah, there are some clunkers in there, but if you like your stories lean on padding and big on plot, there are some real classics.

With regards to the whole bastard/racist/anti-semite issue, I had to address them on my FAQ page years ago. It was too sad to keep receiving emails from kids who said their parents wouldn't let them read his stories. I tried to give my own justification for continuing to promote the man's writing. I received an email from Jeremy Treglown - pretty much the foremost Dahl biographer - saying that he felt the site gave a pretty fair portrayal of the guy. I'm proud of that.

A few years back I got to meet Felicity Dahl and tour the house. I first met her in 1998 when I was in London as a student. I'd registered roalddahl.org back in 1996 - some jerk was squatting on the .com - and the Dahl Foundation had gotten in touch with me about it. They were (finally) starting up an official site, and they were interested in purchasing the domain from me. I happily gave it to them for free. It was well worth it to get invited inside the garden shed where a lot of the books had been written. Felicity also gave me some autographed books, and I remember her telling me about the new Wonka movie (which was then still in very early development).
posted by web-goddess at 5:49 PM on July 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the comment web-goddess, and thanks for the awesome site too!
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:15 PM on July 23, 2008


(Can't imagine why anyone prefers the Tim Burton atrocity over the original - that half-arsed Michael Jackson impression from Johnny Depp still makes me shudder now).

Yeah, it's too bad. I actually like Tim Burton, Johnny Depp and I really love Roald Dahl, but when they came together they didn't really work as well as the 1971 version with Gene Wilder. I guess there was more acid going around back then, or maybe it was just better quality.

I will always remember Roald Dahl's stories as a major influence in what sort of writing interested me later. There was a depth to his work that wasn't present in many children's authors, not to mention the sinister streak running through them, a palpable darkness lurking just around the corner of the fantastic scenes he painted. And sometimes he sounded wistful and longing for simplicity, making me want the world he longed for. I'm going to have to reread his stuff again, particularly his adult work, as it's been over 20 years. I find myself missing it now ...
posted by krinklyfig at 10:11 PM on July 23, 2008


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