Dahl

Nat Case hedberg at vermontel.net
Thu Dec 9 18:58:15 EST 1999


I just wanted to put in my 2 cents over Roald Dahl. I happen to be very fond
of him. I find his dark, often rather grim style bracing, and I find that
underlying his curmudgeonly, even mean persona is a genuine faith in durable
spirits. His grotesqueries read to me as just that.

In reading the comments of Hallie, I was struck by similarities to other
comments I remember from friends, mostly about movies and theater. I
remember going to see the musical THE FANTASTICKS with two friends who did
work with battered women. They were horrified by the "Rape" song (which is
meant to jar us with its cheerful softsell... the singer is trying to
convince a father to hire him to abduct her daughter), and it spoiled the
whole thing for them. Another friend I went to see MARRIED OT THE MOB, which
I find a wry, even black comedy. She didn;t think it was the least bit
funny.

And I usually squirm and want to run away when stage or screen comedy is
comedy of humiliation. I couldn't watch more then half of THERE"S SOMETHING
ABOUT MARY, which other people I know found hilarious. 

I can absolutely see that if you don't find the humor in Dahl funny, the
battle is over, and you're in for a pretty painful ride. A lot of his humor
is about exaggerating and caricaturing how horrible people really are to
each other. At its most extreme (The Twits, for instance), it's about all
there is to the story. His moral sense is pretty rigid: you can almost
always tell the nice folks from the baddies, at least in his kids stories.
In his adult stories, the lines get blurrier, and in fact a lot of the
pleasure in them is in that delicious moment when you realize where a
character went wrong and how he's going to get it. I won't say people always
get what they deserve, but his stories are full of especially satisfying (to
me anyway) retributions.

I'm curious about how those who hate Dahl feel about Warner Bros cartoons
(roadrunner and coyote, for instance), or the German kids classic Max und
Moritz (Max and Maurice). I wouldn't be at all surprised if you get the same
pains with these, but I'm curious.


Nat Case
Hedberg Maps, Inc.
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