Roald Dahl played a huge part in my childhood. His creativity and imagination introduced us to worlds with talking insects, evil witches, magical potions, a friendly giant; the list goes on. He is so highly regarded that September 13th has been officially made Roald Dahl Day, widely celebrated each year. For many of us, we gain access to our childhoods by re-reading his works.
Re-reading childhood favourites can be dangerous, as your eyes are suddenly opened to reveal the darker side, with hidden meanings and the macabre. I can no longer overlook the cruelty of Matilda’s parents or how terrifying the disguised witches are. The same is true of nursery rhymes and classic songs for children, which leave you disheartened when you realise that Ring-a- ring a-roses is about death and the plague or that Jack and Jill is about executions during the French revolution.
Each of the eleven stories become more surreal and twisted than the last, featuring themes of animal cruelty, torture and murder.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love his books and the way he can make sure dark and grotesque situations still seem magical and fairy tale esque. With this in mind, I read his collection of short stories for adults called Kiss Kiss. Each of the eleven stories become more surreal and twisted than the last, featuring themes of animal cruelty, torture and murder. Roald Dahl proves he is not afraid to challenge taboos with his fictional account of the birth of Adolf Hitler in the aptly titled ‘Genesis and Catastrophe’ short story.
His talent for the unpredictable and shocking, means his exploration of the cruel side of human nature is haunting, as you consider how brutal, cunning and deceptive people have the capacity to be.
A powerfully haunting must-read tale by one of the world’s most loved authors.
Author: Elinore Court
Artwork: Quentin Blake