“One rainy Sunday afternoon in 1989, with encouragement and much-needed help from her father, a 7-year-old girl named Amy decided to send something to Roald Dahl. Taking inspiration from her favourite book, The BFG, and using a combination of oil, coloured water and glitter, Amy sent the author a very fitting and undeniably adorable gift: one of her dreams, contained in a bottle. ”
Go to Letters of Note to read Dahl’s reply. He wasn’t a perfect man, but his response to this child is perfect in every way.
The London Review of Books reviewed George’s Marvellous Medicine back in 1981 in a piece titled “Sweet Porn”. The LRB blog has re-posted an except today under the title “Emmanuelle and the Chocolate Factory”. I don’t subscribe to the LRB, so I can’t read the full piece (for which I am mostly thankful), but here’s an excerpt.
For pre-pubertal Westerners, sweets fill the vacuum later to be occupied by sex. It is unnerving to watch an otherwise decent child being temporarily demoralised (in the literal sense of being morally corrupted) by a desire for sweets as an otherwise decent adult may be by sexual need. In both cases, the overwhelming lust for immediate sensual gratification destroys habitual scruples, yet is itself tainted by a guilty awareness that fulfilment may collapse into satiety, shame and physical discomfort. The whole animal being is involved. A three-year-old with a chocolate-smeared face can wear the hangdog look of a man whose wife surprises him in adultery… Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is thus, in effect, a piece of soft pornography, with Charlie in the Emmanuelle role: ‘as the rich warm creamy chocolate ran down his throat into his empty tummy, his whole body from head to toe began to tingle with pleasure, and a feeling of intense happiness spread over him.’
Get rid of that icky feeling by visiting writer Kristen den Hartog’s lovely mother-daughter reading journal Blog of Green Gables, where she details their “mission to read all of [Dahl’s] kids’ books in a row.” Her post on the BFG is doubly interesting because the protagonist of Hartog’s last novel And Me Among Them is a girl giant.
Over at the Huffington Post, there’s a juicy collection of his funniest quotes from his children’s books.
“I understand what you’re saying, and your comments are valuable, but I’m going to ignore your advice.”
And and and
“And Charlie, don’t forget about what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he ever wanted. He lived happily ever after.”