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April 4, 2011 | by  | in Arts Books | [ssba]

Roald Dahl: Not So Peachy

Roald Dahl was my childhood hero and favourite-ever children’s author. But, he was also a philandering, anti-Semitic, misogynist asshole.

Well, OK, I added the asshole bit, but the other bits I have evidence for. For example, Dahl said of Jews that “even a stinker like Hitler didn’t pick on them for no reason,”; he cheated repeatedly on his first wife, even after she had a stroke; and his worst feature of all, according to a close ‘friend’, was his “overweening rudeness to people”. Maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised to discover that Dahl had a dark side—after all, his books definitely do. Bone-crunching giants, principals who lock their students in tiny nail-studded closets, and witches that can fry people with white hot sparks from their eyes are not exactly the makings of saccharine bedtime stories.

The fact is, Dahl’s books were never PC, and neither was his life. He seems to have suffered from that disease peculiar to incredibly talented creative types. You know, where they write an amazing book, perform in a concert, or make this really deep piece of art… and then they go home, drink themselves stupid, yell at their wives and make racist remarks. But maybe Dahl’s dark side made his books what they were. For me, I think I can let Roald Dahl, the person, go—because Roald Dahl, the author, is awesome and always will be. I can still remember my mum reading George’s Marvellous Medicine aloud to me, and crying with laughter when she got to the bit about how George’s Grandmother’s mouth was all pursed up like a dog’s bottom. So many good memories are tied up with Roald Dahl, and his books really are incredible. So rest in peace, Roald Dahl—you were far from perfect but you sure could write.


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