By Rebecca Reed
Roald Dahl once boasted, with a lack of modesty, that his name was known to virtually every child in the western world. 27 years on from his death, it is safe to say that every child you will probably encounter has read or is reading one of his great children’s stories. He should have added that he was already quite well known to his adult audience as well.
Now, I first encountered Roald Dahl when I was around 7 or 8, his books came with teabags, and I would settle down and read “The Twits”, “Fantastic Mr Fox” and “The Witches” all day long. Now I loved books as a child, I would read endless novels from Enid Blyton to J.K Rowling and before Harry Potter, I was captivated by Roald Dahls narration, the words and his characters, the fantasies just took on personas of their own. Still as I grew up, I worked my way through Roald Dahl’s key children’s fiction pieces and only recently I have learned that before children’s fiction he wrote stories for adults, these stories are dark and twisted and they are overlooked, as his children’s novels became bestsellers, however they made him one of the most accomplished writers of adult’s short stories.
The books themselves are a fascination to most. His adult material is certainly not for prudes. The character Uncle Oswald “the greatest fornicator of all time” has a novel all to himself. There are running themes of vice and eroticism as well as the darker, cruel exploits and moral correctness that is familiar from within his children’s novels. It’s certainly a far cry from the chocolate factory! These stories were designed for an adolescent male audience in an age where casual misogyny went unnoticed compared to now. So many would deem them as controversial for this day and age.
Have any of our fans read a short story by Roald Dahl designed for adults? What did you think? Tell us in the comments below. We may give one a read, we have after all read Fifty Shades… surely nothing can shock us after that?