kottke.org posts about Tales of the Unexpected

The unpleasant Roald DahlJun 07 2011

Sometimes children's author Roald Dahl was not a very nice man. This Recording explains.

His early writing in the short story form was impacted by the political situation on the world stage. He believed in a world government and he was extremely sympathetic to Hitler, Mussolini, and the entire Nazi cause. His stories were filled with caricatures of greedy Jews. One suggests "a little pawnbroker in Housditch called Meatbein who, when the wailing started, would rush downstairs to the large safe in which he kept his money, open it and wriggle inside on to the lowest shelf where he lay like a hibernating hedgehog until the all-clear had gone." In 1951 he visited Germany with Charles Marsh and luxured in Hitler's former retreat at Berchtesgaden. His dislike of Jews and especially of Zionists was egged on by Marsh's Israel hatred, later encapsulated in a revolting letter to Marsh where he mocked the head of East London's B'Nai B'rith Club.

Dahl's dark side is on display in his short story collection, Tales of the Unexpected, which I read as a teen (twice!) and loved. A more charitable take on Dahl is available at Wikipedia.

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