Essay on Roald Dahl

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|LITERATURE SEMINAR | |Name: Julia Blanco |Teacher: Elena Ma. Garcia | |Group: 2º Inglés |Due date: November, 2008 |

The aim of this essay is to give an outline of Roald Dahl’s life, highlighting the most important moments of his life, to point out his mayor works - specially the ones addressed to children-, and to mention many critics’ opinions of his writing.

Roald Dahl was born in Llandaff, Wales on September 13th, 1916. He was the son of Norwegian parents. His father, Harald Dahl, died when Dahl was three. His mother, Sophie Magdalene Hesselberg had to raise him, his three brothers and two stepchildren. He gave tribute to his mother in “The witches”, in which he tried to represent his mother through the character of the grandmother. Not only did he suffer his father’s death but also his sister Astri, who died from appendicitis. After both tragedies, Dahl’s mother decided to remain in Wales since it was her husband’s wish to have their children educated in British schools. During his adulthood he also suffered the loss of his eldest daughter Olivia and during an accident, his four-month year old son suffered from brain damage.

Roald Dahl had a miserable time at school and this had the greatest influence in his writing. His school days are the central theme in his autobiography “Boy”. In “Boy” he described horrible beatings, sadistic headmasters, prejudiced teachers, and even an abusive dormitory Matron. He first attended Llandaff Cathedral School. He used to keep a secret diary in which he recorded all the memories of his times. These memories recorded in the diaries would later be the seeds for “Charlie and Chocolate Factory”. Then he was sent to several boarding schools in England, including Saint Peter's in Weston-super-Mare. He had an unpleasant experience while being at Saint Peter’s. He was very homesick and wrote to his mother once a week - and continued to do so until he was thirty-two - but he never showed to her that he was missing her and the rest of the family.

At the age of eighteen, Dahl decided he wanted to follow a career in which he could travel to places like China or African countries. So, he joined the Public Schools Exploring Society’s expedition to Newfoundland. Later he worked at Shell Petroleum Company –since he was sure they would sent him abroad. After being trained for two years he was sent to Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, where he got the adventure he wanted: great heat, crocodiles, snakes and safaris. When he was twenty-three, World War II broke out and he joined the Royal Air Force. He was made a pilot officer and went to Nairobi. All his war experiences are described in his autobiography “Going Solo”. They include dreadful episodes such as the survival of a direct hit during the Battle of Athens which Roald Dahl described as "an endless blur of enemy fighters whizzing towards me from every side." In 1942, he went to Washington as Assistant Air Attaché. There, he started writing short stories. His first work was published in “Saturday Evening Post”, where he described his experience and wrote his own version of the war. In 1943, he published his first children's book "The Gremlins". But for the first fifteen years Dahl’s career was focused on writing to adults. He wrote two novels for adults: “Sometime never” in 1948 and “My uncle Oswald” in 1979.

As a children’s writer, he did not succeeded until the 60s, when he became a father. He himself claimed to be more satisfied with his children’s books rather than with his adult’s ones since “… children’s books are harder to write. It’s tougher to keep a...
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