Book #20. Matilda

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?

Reference.
Dahl, Roald. Matilda. New York: Puffin books. 1998.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Book #20. Matilda

  1. Random

    I think there’s a lot of truth in Roald Dahl’s books even if they are nonsensical and absurd. The trials Matilda faces are the trials of someone who is abused. Matilda has to find it within herself to stand up against the injustices done to her, even though they are from authority figures she is told she must obey because she is a child. Plus, there are parents and principals like that in the world, as well as children exactly like Matilda or in her situation.
    It’s a good message for kids, I think. Just because someone has a position of authority, doesn’t mean that everything they do is right and it’s okay to stand up to them or correct them. And it’s presented in a way children can understand easily, because it’s literally from their point of view. That said, it can be a little bit hard for adults to get into, simply because they’ve outgrown that perspective. But I think children should have books, movies and TV shows that are told from their point of view.
    Plus, it’s rare to see a very bookish highly intelligent female as a role model in chldren’s media.
    As to Neil Gaiman, I personally love him and I can see a lot of Dahl in his writing. Why choose? I love both.

    • Thank you for your enlightening comment. I’m reading a lot of children’s books recently because I’m teaching elementary students, so it’s sort of puzzling to take them on my own. I would love to have read Matilda in my childhood as many of Dahl’s readers.
      I’m enjoying Gaiman so far for its a bit more maturity. 😉

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