"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Let's Discuss: What do you do when you find out negative information about authors of favorite books

I recently read an article about an author of many favorite children's books, "The antisemitic Roald Dahl was one of the most unpleasant people who ever lived".

Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and Chocolate Factory and Matilda, is one of the most unpleasant people who ever lived? How could that be? I read the whole article with my hand over my mouth. Here are few things I learned, in case you don't want to read it for yourself:

  • He was a huge antisemite. Here is a quote he made about Jews -- “There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity, maybe it’s a kind of lack of generosity towards non-Jews. I mean, there’s always a reason why anti-anything crops up anywhere; even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason.” 
  • As much as you may love Charlie and the Chocolate Factory -- "The book offers clues to Dahl's personality and beliefs. Four of the five children with the golden tickets are awful human beings — fair enough. However, Dahl has Willy Wonka dispatch them with a fair degree of sadism." And his racism was on display with his support of colonialism with the Oompa-loompas.
  • Authors shouldn't be confused with their characters, but Dahl was churlish with those he worked with. He was even fired from his publishing house, even though he brought in profits for his books. His x-publisher said: "His behavior to the staff there was so demanding and rude that no one wanted to work with him."
  • Dahl was a serial adulterer who was both dismissive of his wife, the American actress Patricia Neal, and jealously overbearing. Neal, on her part, was clear that he was a dominant and demanding husband. The couple had five children. The four who survived to adulthood said their father loved children in general. Just not his own.
So let's discuss authors of favorite books who are horrible humans, or who have horrible opinions. Do you still read their books? I still haven't read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, though I have seen the movie in its many iterations. Do I boycott Dahl going forward because I now know this information? 

My daughter, a once devoted Harry Potter fan, has turned on J.K. Rawling because of her anti-LGBTQ+ opinions. She says she no longer wants to enrich this bigoted person. I am sure I wouldn't want to read a book authored by a devoted Trump fan, or a known racist. So what should I do about Roald Dahl, a man long dead but still popular with children?

What do you do? What do you think I should do?

Leave your comments below and we can discuss our thoughts together.


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