Unheimlich is the German word that Freud chose to call uncanny: strange and disturbing, disturbing, despite its closeness to us. In the words of Schelling, a German Romantic philosopher, it symbolizes “the coming to light of everything that is hidden, destined to remain hidden”. The definition is very scary.
It is translated as enigmatic in English and has been used specifically to describe the literature of two great macabre masters: Edgar A. Poe and Roald Dahl. So much so that Dahl (Wales, 1916-1990) won the Poe Award twice for some of his stories.
Great children’s literature
Dahl’s is one such example, widely known for its children’s novels, read in schools around the world, and filmed by some of the most prominent contemporary directors—Tim Burton, Wes Anderson, Steven Spielberg, Danny De Vito, and others. that part of his work has buried the author’s name and left the other half of his production in the margins.
“Home was a very difficult concept for Roald,” says biographer Donald Sturrock, son of Norwegian parents, Welsh by birth, English by school education, and with whom we had an emotional conversation in London in 2019. The books: The Life of Roald Dahl (authorized biography) and Love from Boy (Dahl’s letters to his mother from the age of nine to his death) agree when asked how it is possible that a movie about Sturrock’s life had not been made. The Welsh, who, for example, has all the essence of incredible fiction, as with Tolkien.
On the death of a seven-year-old sister, Roald was three years old when his father followed him; The mother looked after the children. Perhaps because of this and other subsequent losses, but also because of the influence of the orphan-infested English literary tradition, his novels often feature orphaned or single-parent protagonists. In addition to the classical English and Welsh repertoire with all its Celtic imagery, her mother read to her tales of Norse folklore filled with elves, giants, fairies and supernatural beings that echoed in her stories.
He avoided going to university, went to Tanzania, World War II. As well as Hollywood stars. Therefore, he faced five children, many scandals and three family misfortunes from his marriage to actress Patricia Neal, with whom he lived for thirty years.
The interest in children’s literature with the birth of her children will make her one of the best-sellers among children’s writers and adapted for historical cinema. In addition to the famous Matilda and Charly, he wrote James and the Giant Peach, Super Fox, Glass Elevator, World Champion Danny, Witches, Cretins, Verse Tales for Perverted Children between 1961 and 1990. more.. Although this disproportionate success, which spawned an entire industry, including museums, foundations, programs in schools, solidarity campaigns, and a range of confectionery and souvenirs, partially quelled his economic ambitions, he did not cease to be infuriated. He overshadowed the other work that was most important to him, and probably best: stories for grown-ups.
The ominous, sinister, eerie, gory, unexpected labels have been applied to his storytelling, something that characterizes him, though unfortunately confining him to a dark orb that diminishes it and certainly doesn’t scare a few readers. Dark, yes; fantastic and wonderful, true, sometimes, not always; Of course he has a morbid disposition, but it’s not that different from what we experience on a daily basis. What Roald Dahl has masterfully accomplished coincides with Schelling’s definition of the unheimlich: he reveals in the “normal” atmosphere what must remain hidden in the unconscious, in appearance, and in social concealment.
In this sense, perhaps there are other terms that describe it better. Neo-Gothic, because in his case there should be no talk of cruelty or terror as much as psychic ghosts, rare scientific inventions (Dahl had a particular taste for the subject and medicine), everyday cunning, domestic crimes and vendettas. in an absurd tone. And the grotesque: The harrowing climate surrounding acts of violence appears to be embodied in common characters who are often caricatured, typically satirical or picaresque, and outfitted with a far from suffocating, often laugh-out-loud comedy.
Of the nearly sixty stories aimed at an audience ranging from teenagers to the elderly, the first dozen are war fiction, many of which are surprising because of the variety of their stylistic sources. The horrors of the battlefield are told from a very close foreground, from the perspectives of both soldiers and victims, from the inhabitants of devastated towns and cities, in the most sensitive record, burial, dreamy and poetic. his prose. Examples include the beautiful Katina, about a girl befriending officers, and Solo esto, which describes the long-distance connection between a mother and her pilot’s son in the middle of a plane crash.
In the remaining forty-seven stories, deceptions, swindles, and revenge are as mad as they are Machiavellian and ingenious, where noble or very low-class characters are at stake: Vengeance is mine, Miss Bixby and the colonel’s coat, The Umbrella Man, the Gastronomers and the famous Apuestas and Hand hitchhiker is a few of them. A handful of the brightest movie couples, tired of men’s abuse, tired of years of marriage where women take deadly revenge: Ascent to Heaven, Roast Lamb, Mary and William.
The recurring setting is the rural England he knows so well, as seen in the masterful Cleric’s Pleasure, Mildenhall Treasure and Claud’s Dog series. The mocking trickster subject is perhaps one of the most used, but with different traps each time, he’s not exempt from physical gags and a certain ultimate moral, which is why – apart from many other reasons – his opponents have labeled him an antagonist. parlor jokes
Among the most fantastical stories are outrageous comedies such as Edward the Conqueror, where a woman thinks she saw the reincarnation of musician Franz Liszt in a cat, and Royal Jelly, where a man turns his daughter into a bee. . There are more serious ones, but they never completely lose a certain hum of breath: a tattoo of a hero who has a work of art tattooed on his body and becomes the work itself (it was undoubtedly inspired by another British author whose work has been found). important kinship, Saki); Patron saint, highly Cortazarian; Sound Machine, which man believed to hear the sound of plants; o Arzu is an impressive short story that is open to various interpretations.
There are also some of the most moving movies of a great genre: The Boy Who Talks to the Animals or The Swan, both to be read with kids. The latter, along with Galloping Foxley, are extraordinarily evocative portraits of bullying.
During his years of greatest fame, Dahl faced accusations regarding his supposedly macho attitude towards his first wife; or for his anti-Semitic statements to the press; It’s racist and the issue is more complex because of the African characters in Charlie and the chocolate factory, but needs to be understood in context. Those who deal with him, no doubt, know that because of his temperament he often prefers these accusations, but not without aggravating him, and therefore he ceases to be a generous, caring and fun-loving giant, a lover. family, nature, kitchen and friends More than ever before: the work itself is valued, the author’s personal anxieties taken to the grave.
The poles from which his passage through the world swings – a sense of belonging to one country and not one language, but several; professional success mixed with family tragedy; The recognition of half of his production, of which he is less interested, and the ignorance of the other – makes him think of him as an outsider to himself, an enormous genius, although somewhat average.
Strengthened by losses
From the age of five, Roald involuntarily attended various British schools and lived away from home, as described in The Marvelous World of Roald Dahl (2016), a highly comprehensive BBC documentary available to watch on YouTube. At school, she was the victim of abuse by both older students and teachers and administrators who used the then-widespread corporal punishment practices. There are many scenes in her books that show this, so before we go any further, let’s recall Matilda’s tough director, Tronchatoro. According to author Dahl, he would find a weapon in literature to take revenge with these memories. Boy. One of his two semi-autobiographical books, childhood stories – as the author describes it, because in them he recreates his past through the tricks of the imagination – reconstructs these chapters very visually. The other, the Volando solo, refers to the years after school. Both are interesting to read with or without children.
He also reviews many of these events in his Golpe de suerte (how I became a writer) story, and laughs at his teachers’ reports that justify how misfit someone who is brilliant in formal education can seem. “Persistently inept. Negligible vocabulary, poorly structured sentences. It reminds me of a camel,” says a teacher when Dahl was fifteen. “I’ve never met a boy who so persistently wrote the opposite of what he meant. He seems incapable of putting his thoughts on paper,” he wrote a year ago, unaware that this gift to subvert the anticipated linguistic order would be perhaps the most original feature of his fiction.
Half a dozen of his stories were included in Alfred Hitchcock’s (1955-62) cycle, and others were filmed for the television series Tales of the Unexpected (1979-88), with a screenplay and presentation by Dahl himself. They can be viewed on YouTube, but it is highly inadvisable to do so without reading the texts, which are infinitely superior to the audio-visual version, which later works as an interesting complement.