Big Readers Forum Index


Roald Dahl
Page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Big Readers Forum Index -> Discuss children's books here.
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Please Register and Login to this forum to stop seeing this advertising.






Posted:     Post subject:



Back to top
Chibiabos83
Site Admin


Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3406


Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 11:43 am    Post subject:  Reply with quote

I now only have two Dahl children's books left to go before I start concentrating on the literature written about them. The most recently read ones are:

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More, his only short story collection for children. A mixed bag, this. The title story is great, about a man who is motivated by greed to learn, through meditation and concentration, how to see through playing cards. There are other fun stories like "The Mildenhall Treasure", a fictionalisation of the discovery of a hoard of Roman silver in Mildenhall, Suffolk in 1946. Other stories are less good. The last two, which focus on his schooldays and young adulthood, retread ground I have recently become overly familiar with. One story, "The Swan", I found more upsetting than anything else by Dahl I have read. It is a bleak account of the unmitigated cruelty that children perpetrate on each other that, despite a whimsical and poetic ending, pulls no punches. There's no suggestion that Dahl condones any of the violence, of course - the violence (primarily corporal punishment) he suffered as a child clearly affected him deeply and permeates his books - but even so it leaves a very bitter taste. That may be to its credit.

The Twits is a rather nasty little book, if fun. The first half consists entirely of the gruesome Twits playing cruel practical jokes on each other; the second focuses on the revenge enacted on them by the animals they terrorise. I'd forgotten quite how damning of men with beards Dahl is, in spite of Himadri's occasional references to it on these pages. Perhaps he felt somewhat defensive because of being bald as a coot. Quentin Blake's illustrations for this book are among his finest. His picture demonstrating Mrs Twit's glass eye is astoundingly good. Her gaze is not unlike Nick Griffin's.


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Chibiabos83
Site Admin


Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3406


Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have written about The BFG, which I read on Saturday, on another thread. And so today I have finally come to the end of my Dahl-reading project. It's felt a little bit titanic. Now the work must begin in earnest. I'm thankfully not feeling entirely disillusioned and resentful about it yet, but that time may come. The more I read, the more daunted I feel and the more I realise there is much I have not yet taken into account, which is a probably a sign that I should start writing fairly soon despite not having a detailed plan. I will attempt to refrain from boring you too much with how the writing is going, but expect it to consume me for the next couple of months.

Though it's not in my list of 20 children's books, I suspect I may have saved the best book of all for last. It's Matilda. I first read it about five years ago, I think. It was published when I was about 6 and already a fan of Dahl's books, but I didn't read it as a child - why, I'm not exactly sure. Perhaps I found the size of the hardback edition we had at home offputting, being used to small paperbacks. I also had a notion it was a bit darker than his other books and not so much intended for children of my age, which I now see as an inaccurate assumption. It's no darker than The Witches, certainly, of which I was a devotee. I expect the story is familiar to many - prodigious Matilda, clever beyond her years, living with her monstrous parents; meek and lovely teacher Miss Honey, who takes Matilda under her wing; headmistress and ogress Miss Trunchbull, who makes Miss Honey's life a misery; magic and comeuppance. Trunchbull is a fun villainess, and Blake's illustration of her swinging a poor girl round and round by her pigtails and releasing her like a hammer is marvellously kinetic. I find the revenge enacted on Miss Trunchbull tremendous chiefly for its lack of violence. Her physical torture is avenged by Matilda's penetration of her mind. The early scenes where Matilda learns to read in the library under the guidance of kindly Mrs Phelps, as remarked upon in a recent edition of A Good Read on Radio 4, are special. They communicate the joy of discovering books in the same way as Alan Bennett does in The Uncommon Reader, which I think was a comparison made by Sue MacGregor on the programme. Quite, quite delightful.


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Ann



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 1112


Location: Worcestershire

PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do wish you all the best with your dissertation, Gareth. I think few people can not have affectionate feelings for Dahl's books, even if they only knew them as an adult. I think my favourite is George's Marvellous Medicine but he was such an original thinker most of the books  have their own charm and I could be persuded to change my mind.
I expect you have told us the title of your thesis but remind me of it again. Is it entirely about Dahl's children's books or are you writing about his life too?


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Chibiabos83
Site Admin


Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3406


Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My provisional title is "Censorship and criticism of the children's books of Roald Dahl", but I suspect they may accept cosmetic alterations if I change my mind. Not much about Dahl's life, I suspect, though some of his occasionally unsavoury views slip through into the books from time to time.


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Chibiabos83
Site Admin


Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3406


Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Odd how the memory plays tricks. I was sure I'd detested Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator when I read it as a child, but documentary evidence, to wit, my class reading book, has been found to suggest otherwise. I started reading it on 8th May 1989, when I would have been five. I asked my mother the meaning of two words in chapter 1: 'continent' and 'piffle'. By the time I had got three chapters in, my teacher, Miss Loveridge, had written, "Gareth seems to be enjoying the humour." Mind you, three chapters isn't much to judge a book by, and the narrative is not sustained at all well over the course of the rest of the book. I'm not sure what I thought of it by the end, but perhaps my previous assumption was inaccurate.



Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Big Readers Forum Index -> Discuss children's books here. All times are GMT
Page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4
Page 4 of 4

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

Card File  Gallery  Forum Archive
Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group
Big Readers Theme by Mike Alexander
Based on Artemis by Vjacheslav Trushkin
Create your own free forum | Buy a domain to use with your forum