Short Story of Roald Dahl

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  • Topic: Feeling
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  • Published : January 4, 2012
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"A Connoisseur's Revenge"

This is one of my favorite Dahl stories, and the one with (I think) the most potent twist in the tail of all. It's not until the very last sentence that you understand the true story. Spoiler warning!

Lionel Lampson is a wealthy older gentleman who enjoys fine art and the company of the upper classes. One night he escorts a vulgar woman named Gladys Ponsonby home from a dinner party. Gladys, who is a little drunk, shows off a new portrait of herself that she had commissioned. She tells Lionel a secret - the artist, John Royden, paints all his subjects first in the nude, then in their underwear, and lastly in their clothes. He is shocked and correctly deduces that this is why all the wealthy women in town are rushing to have their portraits painted by him. Gladys then changes the subject and asks Lionel about his relationship with a young beauty named Janet de Pelagia. Lionel is embarrassed until Gladys relates that earlier that afternoon Janet had called him a "crashing bore". Lionel is outraged and forces Gladys to repeat the entire conversation. He is so upset to hear what Janet thinks about him that he swoons. The next day he wakes and vows revenge. He hits upon the perfect plan and calls up this artist Royden. He tells him that he'd like a picture of Janet, but doesn't want her to know about it. He pays Royden a handsome amount for his services, and then goes off to Italy for four months. By the time Lionel returns, Royden has finished the painting and it's the talk of the Royal Academy. Royden delivers it to Lionel, who can't wait to move on to the second part of his plan. He is an expert clearner and restorer of paintings, and very carefully he begins to remove the top layer (the clothing) of the painting. By the time he has finished, Janet de Pelagia is standing before him almost life-size in nothing but her underclothes. Lionel then invites Janet and all the top members of society to his home for a dinner...
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