'When one is with her it is impossible to be bored': An examination of Roald Dahl's contribution to a Feminist project in children's literature

Beverley Pennell

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract

Like all literature, Roald Dahl's children's books reflect the cultural context of their production. For this study of Dahl's representations of women and girls, the significant aspects of his cultural context include the reconceptualisation of childhood that occurs in the second half of the twentieth century and the challenge second-wave feminism poses to the traditional western gender order that occurs from the late nineteen-fifties onwards. Dahl's oeuvre offers a literary record of the cultural shifts in both these areas of social life. Dahl's representation of the shifting power differentials in adult-child relationships is an established hallmark of his children's novels (West 1992; Bird 1998). Aligned with shifting representations of adult-child relationships, are Dahl's shifting representations of female characters and the reshaping of female storylines. This study examines Dahl's reconfigurations of conceptualisations of 'girl', 'woman', and 'family' across two decades, from The Magic Finger (1966) to The BFG (1982) and then to Matilda (1988).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoald Dahl (New Casebooks)
EditorsAnn Alston, Catherine Butler
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Chapter6
Pages102-122
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9780230283619, 9780230283602
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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