June 24, 2009

Roald Dahl

Posted in Autobiography, Comedy at 8:21 pm by j128

Roald Dahl Boy: Tales of Childhood and Going Solo by Roald Dahl, are two autobiographies of his. Boy, as the title implies, tells of his childhood, and Going Solo tells of his life after childhood from the time of his employment at the Eastern Staff of the Shell Company where he lived in Africa for a while to when he comes home after being an air fighter in World War II.

Boy

Boy: Tales of Childhood – Roald Dahl tells a little bit of his family’s history and then he tells from the moment he was born to when he was of school age all the way up to when he was employed by Shell. Some of my favorite stories are The Great Mouse Plot, when he and a few of his school chums release a trick on the sweetshop owner, who is not at all very nice to any of them; when he went to a boarding school where Cadbury, I think it was, gave samples to the students and asked for the students’ opinions of their chocolates and this is the inspiration for one of his most-loved book, which was made into two movies, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. These are not all of my favorite stories, there are way more than two, but there are so many of my favorites I cannot remember them all. An immense enjoyment from beginning to end!

Going SoloGoing Solo – In Going Solo Roald Dahl is on his way to Africa after being assigned there from the Shell Company. He meets some rather absurd people – and experiences even more bazaar events some of which include seeing a couple, passengers on the ship, run naked across the deck in the early morning air to young Mr. Dahl’s astonishment. He also meets a woman who is very health concerned, so concerned it is way over the top! She sees the fingers as horrible things carrying parasites and never eats food with her fingers, even an orange. Instead she uses knife and fork. In Africa Mr. Dahl is in store for more adventures including black and green mambas and a simba (Swahili for lion), which takes off with the cook’s wife in its jaw, and the wife pretends to be dead. Then we’re not too far in the book when Mr. Dahl volunteers for World War II and he flies airplanes all the way until he is rendered disabled after an airplane accident and is sent home where he reunites with his family.

Recommended Reading

Besides these two autobiographies, I would also recommend reading My Year by Roald Dahl. It is a thin book with twelve chapters covering each month. All of the chapters are relatively short but every one of them is delightful. My Year is based on a dairy he wrote during the final year of his life and was published in 1993. Within each chapter, Mr. Dahl writes about reminiscents of his childhood and adolescence as well as giving gardening tips and notes about wildlife of which he was always fascinated by.

For those who wish to taste the marvelous (and sometimes revolting) foods that he created in his numerous books, please have a look at these cookbooks: (in order)

  1. Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes – Includes Willy Wonka’s Strawberry Flavoured Chocolate Coated Fudge, Green Pea Soup (The Witches), Snozzcumbers, Bird Pie, and Stickjaw for Talktative Parents.
  2. Roald Dahl’s Even More Revolting Recipes – Includes Strawberry Bonbons (the kind that can’t be found in any sweet shop), Wonka’s Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight, Doc Spencer’s Pie, Hot Noodles made from Poodles on a Slice of Garden Hose, and Magic Green Crystal from James and the Giant Peach.

Both cookbooks are illustrated by Quentin Blake and of course there are many more delectable kinds of food than what are listed here but that would be giving away the surprise and furthermore, some of the recipes are so disgusting they aren’t even worth mentioning even though everyone else says they taste more delicious than what the book says: never judge a book by its cover.

Links

http://www.roalddahl.com/ – Roald Dahl’s official website, requires Macromedia Flash Player to access the website

http://www.answers.com/Roald%20Dahl/ – Biography and discussion about Roald Dahl and his books

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August 29, 2006

Black Beauty

Posted in Autobiography, Classics of World Literature at 10:51 pm by j128

Notice: I am finding a new image for the cover of Black Beauty.

Black Beauty by British author Anna Sewell was published in 1877. It was Anna Sewell’s first and only book, composed in the last years of her life between 1871 and 1877, confined in her home as an invalid. Anna Sewell dictated it to her mother who transferred it to paper.

The inspiration to write Black Beauty began for Anna Sewell early in life because she had exposure to horses early on as she was unable to walk and crippled since a young child and spent many hours driving her father to and from the station where he commuted.

Black Beauty was not originally intended a children’s book, it was more a book for people who worked with horses. Anna Sewell lived long enough to see the book become an immediate best-seller and to see it become a success.

Summary

The story is told in the first person by a black horse, Black Beauty. Black Beauty tells his life’s story from when he was a little foal in the English countryside living with his mother to his retirement as a working horse, etc.

Black Beauty undergoes many experiences in a horse’s life. He experiences the carefree days of a foal with his mother, and the difficulties of pulling cabs in London. Black Beauty recounts events in his life in each chapter, more or less containing morals. He has, throughout his life, kind and loving masters, and cruel and careless masters. Finally he retires into the country after being rescued from an old human friend that he met when he was young.

Black Beauty has become a classic and is one of the most widely read books in the English language.

Black Beauty has also been subject to several movies. The movie that is most faithful to the book is the 1994 Warner Brothers’ Black Beauty. I have seen the 1994 Black Beauty and it is a work of art. Some scenes are very emotional and may trigger tears, so be alert if viewing with young children. Alan Cumming supplies the voice of Black Beauty in the 1994 adaptation.

Links

Black Beauty on Project Gutenberg