Where some children's authors choose to artfully pack in extra material that can be fully appreciated only by an adult reader, Roald Dahl instead choo...moreWhere some children's authors choose to artfully pack in extra material that can be fully appreciated only by an adult reader, Roald Dahl instead chooses to write clearly and deliberately for a single audience - the child. This is something to be celebrated, as it demonstrates Dahl's keen understanding of the Child's mind and his willingness to serve it.
Dahl does not patronise his audience. He provides them with the gristle, the tragedy, the darkness and the terrible happenings from which most other author's will 'protect' them. The characters that he writes are caricature, for sure, and Dahl acknowledges this - but only whilst also acknowledging that caricatures are always rooted in truth. For the child, I'm sure, this forbidden knowledge is a large part of the attraction towards Dahl's work: He provides them with a glimpse into the abyss and they are thrilled by the vertigo.
Intellectually, as well, Roald Dahl does not at all patronise his audience; difficult words like 'insuperable' and 'indelible' are used freely and when the comic violence of his world clashes with the adult reality of Miss Honey's life, Dahl does nothing to cushion the blow or to hide the implications and, indeed, draws attention to them through the enquiries of the protagonist.
A curious mix of British English and Americanisms (pants for trousers, fanny for bottom) is employed and some considerable contortions are taken in order to set the scene without using the term 'Primary School'. This is quite interesting, as it points towards the notion that Dahl intended the book for immediate internationalisation. Quite interesting indeed. The edition that I have points out at the back that the US publishing of Dahl's earliest works preceded their publishing in the UK. This is something that I had not formerly realised, and it makes a great deal of sense.(less)