Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Horowitz on Dahl

Anthony Horowitz, author of the Alex Rider books, has an interesting take on Roald Dahl in the Telegraph.
Dahl was perhaps the first author to take the children's side and to collude with them against the smelly, ugly, stupid creatures that inhabit the adult world. Subversive is the adjective most often used to describe him, but in the end his own name provided a better one. "Dahlish" has come to stand for a cheerful malevolence, a sort of conniving wickedness that leaps unmistakeably off the page. Take the description of Charlie's grandparents - "as shrivelled as prunes and as bony as skeletons" - and ask yourself who else could get away with that sort of writing … and could they get away with it now?
He reviews the mirade of children's books that are under development for the big screen now, including his own Stormbreaker, and has a useful insight:
Children's literature, like no other, exists in the heads of those who read it. Young people have such elaborate, vivid imaginations that celluloid can all too easily fall short of their expectations. Look at the hash that the BBC made of the Narnia chronicles (a Disney version later this year may do better) and the many classics - Alice, Peter Pan, The Grinch, Huckleberry Finn - that have never been filmed with complete success. Indeed, it's surely no surprise that the most successful children's films, from ET through to Toy Story, have been original pieces of work with no literary source.

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