a book about & by roald dahl

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roald dahl’s boy: tales of childhood (1984) is the most delightful autobiography i have read / his boyhood memories of homesickness, sadistic headmasters, heartless matrons, mean shopkeepers & anesthetic-free surgery are par for the course <in the english boarding school experience of the 20s & 30s> \ though you feel quite clearly that these vividly remembered unpleasantness has not damaged him / because of a loving mother & family

he sweetly signs his letters to his mother “Love from Boy” / to deal with homesickness at st. peter’s <his first boarding school at age 9> he situates his bed so that it always faces his home in llandaff, wales  \ he does this with the bristol channel to orient him /the mischiefs of this young boy & his peers are chronicled and have great titles \ “the great mouse plot” which involved putting a dead mouse in the candy jar of a mean & detested shopkeeper is funny but even more hilarious is “goat’s tobacco” where they play a gross trick on his “ancient” sister’s “manly lover”

at repton, he & other 13-18 year olds regularly received boxes of cadbury chocolates \ in exchange, they were to rate them & make intelligent comments / it was the realization that chocolate manufacturers actually have inventing rooms and that inventing & concocting is taken seriously which provided the inspiration for “charlie & the chocolate factory”

the sadism of headmasters is disturbing and even more so when this headmaster <at repton> becomes archbishop of canterbury \ this is however controversial – the wikipedia entry on geoffrey fischer whom dahl referred to indicates that it could have been a case of mistaken identity on dahl’s part / in any case, the dichotomy of unforgiving brutality as a headmaster on the one hand and preaching mercy & forgiveness as a man of god on the other, left a lasting impression on him and doubts about religion & god \ from this mix of sad, horrifying but also loving experiences a boy grew into a man of compassion

this was a great find at strand’s kiosk in nyc, spring break 2013 / i read it as we traveled  the countrysides of tuscany & umbria

2 thoughts on “a book about & by roald dahl”

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