Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Matilda: Dahl at his best.
" It's a funny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful"
I was so mesmerised by the first lines that I could'nt put the book down. What followed was a fascinating adventure of Matilda, easily the most endearing five year old you'll ever find in literature. The story unfolds with the readers being introduced to the Wormwood household who are queer folks.
"Occasionally one comes across parents who show no interest at all in their children, and these of course are far worse than the doting ones". Words that seem to be spoken by one very experienced school teacher. The Wormwoods' indifference towards their five year old daughter turns to plain old underestimation when she starts showing signs of being a precocious child. As an act of defiance, Matilda enrols as a member at the public library, and despite being forbidden and even admonished for reading books, she finds solace in the literary works of Charles Dickens, John Steinbeck, Earnest Hemingway and George Orwell to name a few. These books had a profound effect on the child as she is magically teleported to different lands where she meets new people and discovers new cultures.
By the time she is admitted to school, She's quite in a league of her own. But her extraordinary abilities do not get her into the good books of the head mistress, Miss Trunchbull.
"The Trunchbull," as she is known, is a vicious evil monster.She punishes students who give incorrect answers in class or who talk back to her by forcing them to undergo some form of physical torture. The old-school pedagogue, literally and figuratively speaking will go to any extent of intimidation to enforce discipline. Often the head mistress crosses the acceptable line of punishment.
However Matilda finds an ally in Miss Honey, her kind and soft spoken teacher.Dahl successfully adds interesting twists to this simple tale and unveils a supernatural facet of the protagonist towards the end of the story. Though one may find his excesses with his character sketches too difficult to accept, what I admire is the way he addressed some very serious issues like child abuse and domestic violence and its effect on the psyche of a child without ever compromising on humour. Easily one of his best works and most certainly worth its money, this one ought to grace your bookshelves even if you remotely have an affinity for childrens literature.
Having read this book cover to cover, I've decided that if I ever venture out to become a writer, I'll author a childrens book. And it'll be nothing like the works of Mr.CS Lewis or Mr. Tolkein, who with all due respects are great writers. Their works in Matildas opinion have one failing, in that they lack sufficient "funny bits".
So my book will be full of funny limericks like this one,
" An epicure dining at Crewe,
Found a rather large mouse in his stew,
Cried the waiter," Dont shout
And Wave it about
Or the rest will be wanting one too."