Roald Dahl is an absolute delight. When I was young, I pulled James and the Giant Peach out of the shelf and thoroughly enjoyed it, and shared the joy with my younger brother.
Ten more years later, I was once again drawn to Roald Dahl in this title Matilda since my family vacation to the New York city back in May. I once passed by a Broadway theatre with a gigantic banner of the musical “Matilda” and wondered what it might be like. Maybe it was just because my natural attraction to feminine titles. Months later, I saw a stack of colourful novels of the same title in the library of the private school I got hired. I couldn’t just pass it without grabbing a copy.
I would love to know where Roald Dahl got his vision of these unspeakably idiotic and vile adults. The two aunts of James were just too hellish to be true; the same images revived in Matilda’s parents and Miss Trunchbull, the worst parents and headmistress you could imagine. To tell the truth, I didn’t quite get how Matilda’s adversaries are relevant to each other (her conflicts with her parents and her schemes with Miss Trunchbull) other than showing how idiotic adults can be. I mean, their idiocies are too much to the point of nonsense. Just look at this:
“…My idea of a perfect school, Miss Honey, is one that has no children at all. One of these days I shall start up a school like that. I think it will be very successful.” (p. 160)
I felt I got too old for a novel like this. The me who enjoyed James and the Giant Peach has got somewhat far away. My original plan was to get it done away in a weekend, to have a peek at the book my students loved to read for their fiction class. For my own enjoyment I should grab The Grape of Wrath or The Scarlet Letter glaring from the bookshelf. Or do you think Neil Gaiman is a maturer choice than Dahl?
Dahl, Roald. Matilda. New York: Puffin books. 1998.