British novelist and story author Roald Dahl was a war hero; One of the last pilots to retire from Greece during the German invasion, he did not start writing for children until he had his own children. At that time, from the writing room of his garden shed, Dahl transformed children’s literature with her non-sentimental, dark humour and her completely unexpected endings. Unforgettable: ‘ Charlie and the Chocolate factory ‘, ‘ Matilda ‘ or ‘ James and the Giant Peach ‘.
Complete biography of Roald Dahl
(Llandaff, 1916-Oxford, 1990) A British writer especially known as author of children’s and juvenile narratives, although his adult production was also of remarkable quality. Many of his stories have become films of great international success.
His father, of Norwegian origin, died when the future writer was only three years old. This disappearance left in economic distress to the family, who had to move to a smaller house. The mother preferred to continue living in England before returning to Norway, fulfilling her husband’s desire to educate her children in British schools.
It was precisely the strict English education, which included strong punishments, the least pleasing to little Roald. His happiest moments lived in the summer when he traveled with his mother and his brothers to Norway. He did not shine especially in his studies, although he emphasized in sporting activities like boxing.
More interested in action and adventure than by the intellectual effort, at the age of eighteen he became an explorer, instead of enrolling in college, as his mother wanted. He then worked as a salesman until, at twenty-three years of age, he enlisted as an aviator to fight in World War II, and served in the Royal Air Forces in Libya, Greece and Syria. In the campaigns of the African continent his plane was reached on several occasions by the enemy’s shots, and on one occasion it came to be knocked down. Dahl saved the life of a miracle, though he had such severe wounds that he was sent home.
His first compilation of stories (Over to You; 10 Stories of Flyers and Flying, 1946) would evoke the horrors lived in the war. Recovered from his wounds, in 1942 he was assigned to Washington as an expert in war aviation affairs; Up to 1945 he worked for British security in the United States. It was there that he began to become famous as a writer, to narrate in newspapers and magazines his vision of war.
Dahl early alternated these occupations with its dedication to children’s and youth literature, which would intensify from the 1960s. Married in 1953, he was the father of four children who used to tell stories that often became novels. His first book for children had been the Gremmlins (1943). He soon got great hits with titles like James and the Giant Peach (1961) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964).
At that time he also suffered serious setbacks: he saw his little daughter Olivia die in 1962, and, three years later, his wife Patricia Neal suffered a dangerous illness that was about to leave her blind and invalid. To make matters worse, his son Theo suffered a serious road accident that caused brain damage when he was only three years old. Dahl spent many months working on a special valve that served to remove fluids from his son’s head and allowed him to live normally, without having to stay connected to a machine.
Despite these misfortunes, Dahl managed to get ahead and continued to write works that made him more and more famous all over the world. With Matilda, one of his latest books (also turned into a blockbuster movie), he beat all the sales records. We must not forget, however, the importance of his adult narrative, in which he cultivated varied genres. Their collaboration with the cinema was also frequent; He wrote, among many others, several screenplays for the James Bond series of films.
Works by Roald Dahl
Although he is remembered especially for his stories for children and young people, Roald Dahl wrote numerous works for adults of undoubted interest and quality, including stories of the Unexpected, a brilliant collection of tales of intrigue and black humour . My Uncle Oswald (1979) is very close to futuristic fiction: it is about selling sperm from the brightest men on the planet. Other outstanding works were Revenge is mine, Genesis and catastrophe, extraordinary stories and the great switch. He particularly excelled in the short story, with scathing and shocking stories bordering on unreality and morbid or macabre in many cases; They created a threatening, bizarre climate linked to irrationality, sharply combining black humour with suspense.
However, in their stories for young people beats the moral fable. Some of his works in the field of child and juvenile narrative are considered among the best of all time. In fact, their stories love both children and older people, because in the midst of their stories starring young, there is humor and critique of contemporary society. Together with the magic and the fantasy, in his books also appears the wickedness and other defects of the human being.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964) was the novel that made him famous among young people from all over the world; He was even chosen as number one in a survey conducted by the prestigious Sunday Times to select the top ten children’s plays. In Charlie and the glass elevator continued with the same character. Other famous books are James and the Giant Peach (1961), which tells the story of an orphan child living with his wicked aunts; The witches, which narrates the confrontation of a boy and his grandmother with the terrible Association of Witches of England; And the cretins, who pick up stories of a couple of old refunfuñones who hate children.
Prolific author, the list of memorable works is extensive: Danny, the world champion, the magic finger or the aforementioned Matilda, the story of a Girl in love with books. The novels Boy and Flying alone were based on the life of the author himself. And still deserve to stand out what disgust of bugs, the Superfox, the wonderful medicine of Jorge, the great giant natured, tales in verse for Wicked children, the vicar who spoke backwards, my year, the Mimpis and the mess Trot.
His most representative work: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Celebrated as the best juvenile novel by the author, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was published in 1964 and had an extraordinary success: more than 13 million copies have been sold worldwide and has been translated into 32 languages. His enduring popularity indicates how well the author understood, appreciated and communicated with the youngest. More recently, the film version of Tim Burton (2005) has contributed to disseminate the work among the new generations.
The protagonist, Little Charlie Bucket, lives with his parents and grandparents. From the beginning, poverty is observed in every corner of the house: in the watery soup they eat, in the lack of work of their father… The sordid panorama described does not cease to seem, however, endearing: despite the difficulties, it is a home in which love, respect and honesty flow.
From the window next to his bed, Charlie sees the immense and mysterious factory of his favorite chocolates; Watching her repeat the fantastic stories that her grandfather (who had worked on her) has told her. No one has been in the factory for decades; Only trucks with merchandise come out.
One day Willy Wonka, the owner, announces that inside the wrapper of five chocolate tablets hides a gold foil that will allow access to the factory, and that five children with five adult companions can visit the place that produces the chocolates more Rich in the world. As no one knows the Wonka factory, the competition excites the curiosity of the population, needing dreams and fantasies to save it from the mediocrity that surrounds it.
One of the winners is Charlie; He visits the factory with his grandfather and with the other four graceful. While Charlie is a good boy, the others who manage to enter the domains of Willy Wonka dominate the worst vices of humanity. Augustus represents gluttony that causes obesity; Veruca, the demand and the unbearable selfishness of the spoiled; Violet, the stupidity of those who believe the best, feel deserving of all the prizes and detest others; Mike, absorbed by television, is imbued with aggression and violence; It’s destructive and smart-mouthed. Also Wonka, the owner, is peculiar: he is the son of an intolerant dentist; He accuses the lack of paternal affection suffered in his childhood and depresses himself by reminding him. Its evolution through contact with young Charlie is touching.
Despite its hurtful and scathing sense of irony, the novel becomes, by its moral sense, an exciting human adventure from which a better person emerges. In the development of history, each one receives the lesson of life that will allow him to correct his vices; The Lumpalumpas, with their ditties, give the corresponding moral. The work recognizes as positive values good education, courtesy or respect for older people, and contains lessons in culture, science or ethics, emphasizing the role of the family in education.