Roald Dahl Dahl, Roald (Vol. 1) - Essay

Dahl, Roald (Vol. 1)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Dahl, Roald 1916–

Dahl, a Welsh-born Englishman, is noted for his tales of grotesque horror. He also writes stories for children. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 1-4, rev. ed.)

Perhaps it is because of Dahl's lack of ambition, his indifference to imposing a "vision" on his stories, his lack of obsessions—sexual and otherwise—that he can focus always on the smooth, logical flow of narrative action. Whatever the cause, the stories in his new collection [Selected Stories of Roald Dahl] make clear that … he knows the difference between merely interesting episodes and characters (of which there are many in these stories) and a finished work. [His stories are rather] farfetched but eminently readable and despite their lack of pretension, a great deal more profound in their insight into human nature than much fiction passing as profundity today.

James P. Degnan, "Sex Ex Machina and Other Problems," in Kenyon Review, Vol. XXXI, No. 2, 1969, p. 274.

The stories of Roald Dahl … are professional in form and execution—smooth and seamless and totally undisturbing. Dahl writes stories that are almost frightening and almost amusing, crafted along old-fashioned lines of "suspense," peopled with characters who are given proper names and one or two characteristics.

Joyce Carol Oates, "Realism of Distance, Realism of Immediacy" (reprinted by permission of the author and Blanche C. Gregory, Inc.; © 1971 by Joyce Carol Oates), in The Southern Review, Vol. VII, No. 1, Winter, 1971, pp. 295-313.