Friday, March 27, 2009

Roald Dahl (1916-1990)

Roald Dahl was a best-selling British fiction writer whose book sales numbered close to 100 million copies. He is best known as the author of several children's books, notably Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. However he also turned his talents to adult tales which feature perverse characters, twisted plots and surprise endings. Dahl lived an adventurous life, the equal of any of his characters, as a Shell oil executive in Tanganyika, RAF pilot in WWII, and British intelligence agent in Washington DC.

In some parts of the world his birthday, September 13, is celebrated as Roald Dahl day.

The character of Uncle Oswald is Dahl's most memorable invention. Uncle Oswald is a turn-of-the-century bon vivant, world traveler and enthusiastic womanizer who discovers during his travels the world's most powerful aphrodisiac. With a female accomplice he hatches a plan to chemically seduce and collect the semen of famous men and market it to rich women hoping to bear remarkable children. Much of the humor in "My Uncle Oswald" resides in the complicated details of the seductions of the men targeted by Oswald & Co. who include Sigmund Freud, James Joyce, Giacomo Puccini, Albert Einstein, the King of Sweden and several others--all conveniently listed here in Wikipedia.

In the title story of Dahl's collection "Switch Bitch", Uncle Oswald accepts the female sensual pleasures offered by a hospitable desert sheik and in a second story runs across yet one more irresistible aphrodisiac--a perfume called "Bitch"--with hilarious consequences. To my mind, Roald Dahl is the undisputed champion of imaginary literary aphrodisiacs. Good show, what?

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