Dahl

Courtney M Eckhardt cme at MIT.EDU
Sat Dec 11 01:36:26 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.

Hear, hear.  I loved Matilda... I felt much as she did when I was a
child.

>And I usually squirm and want to run away when stage or screen comedy is
>comedy of humiliation. 

I can totally understand this as well... I *hate* sitcoms with a royal
purple passion equal to my hatred Barney and Goodnight Moon (from too
many years of babysitting and reading and watching brainless things
with children who were not give what I woudl call quality
entertainment).  I cannot *stand* any entertainment where humor is
derived from the constant and repetitive humiliation of the characters
one is supposed to be empathizing with... for a variety of reasons.
The first is that I never had any patience whatsoever with people who
could not learn from their own mistakes.  The second stems from the
fact that frequent acute humiliations comprise a large number of my
most vivid childhood memories, and I cannot watch a sitcom without
reliving every dumb thing I have ever done like a horror movie in my
own head.  

Heh.  More than you ever wanted to know about my psyche. :P

>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.

Ooh... could you reccomend to me (personally, if the rest of the list
doesn't want to hear it) some of his adult books?

courtney
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