Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Roald Dahl and Adults?

Camille at Book Moot and Michael at Achockablog are discussing Anthony Horowitz's article for The Telegraph on Roald Dahl. Horowitz's article focuses on Dahl's staying power (50 years and counting) and the appeal of his "cheerful malevolence."

Margaret Talbot takes quite a different approach for her article on Dahl for The New Yorker, focusing instead on Dahl's critics. I actually had not known there are adults who don't like Dahl, adults who ask his books be pulled from library shelves because "children misbehave and take retribution on adults, and there’s never, ever a consequence for their actions." My goodness, isn't that part of the point of children's books? Fortunately, Talbot defends Dahl concluding, "Dahl’s purse-lipped critics fail to recognize that his stories don’t merely indulge a child’s fantasies—they replenish them."

I adore the highly negative, stylized adults in Dahl's world. True they are usually awful, but they are also not real. (Though it can be argued that many adults are that monstrous to children.) And, there is always a liminal adult figure in Dahl's stories (Charlie's grandfather, Miss Honey) who negotiates and translates the adult world for the child. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory remains my daughter's all time favorite book, loved more than Harry Potter, The Little Princess, and others.

All this attention on Dahl comes with the anticipated release of Tim Burton's new rendition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I've actually already posted my concerns about this one. I hope I'm wrong!