General Antisemitism

The Guardian, Roald Dahl and adults who fail spectacularly

H/T Margie

In “Roald Dahl: my hero“, Guardian, Aug. 31, Michael Rosen, author of the soon to be released book ‘Fantastic Mr. Dahl’, pays tribute to the late author whose works include ‘James and the Giant Peach’, ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ and ‘Matilda’.

Rosen writes that Dahl, who died in 1990, was “one of the first writers who can be read and enjoyed by children to show us adults in familiar, everyday situations failing spectacularly, grotesquely and exaggeratedly in this job of nurture”, a characterization which was included in the strap line of the Guardian piece.

While Dahl may have indeed been a gifted writer, he was also an outspoken and unapologetic antisemite.

The British periodical ‘Literary Review’ published a book review by Dahl in which he referred to “those powerful American Jewish bankers” and charged that the U.S. Government was “utterly dominated by the great Jewish financial institutions over there.”

He also claimed that Israeli military activity in Lebanon “was very much hushed up in the newspapers because they are primarily Jewish-owned.” In the same piece he likened Zionism to Nazism.

Dahl also said, during an interview in The New Statesman:

“There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity, maybe it’s a kind of lack of generosity towards non-Jews. I mean there is always a reason why anti-anything crops up anywhere; even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason.”

There have been, of course, quite a few accomplished literary figures who were compromised by anti-Jewish bigotry.  Simply acknowledging, for instance, T.S. Eliot’s antisemitism doesn’t render his poem ‘The Waste Land‘ any less worthy of reverence.  However, much of the mainstream commentary on the writer’s literary legacy, 47 years after his death, explores in some manner questions regarding his visceral hostility towards Jews.

We often honor such literary figures due to their gift of employing prose to convey sublime truths about the human condition, and the pursuit of a holistic understanding of the artistic contribution must invariably grapple with the often maddeningly complicated life of the artist him or herself. 

Antisemitism, wrote Walter Russell Mead, “is not just a moral obscenity; it is the road to intellectual…ruin”, and inconsistent with “lucidity” itself.

While it is fair to bestow esteem upon Road Dahl and celebrate his unique insight into the inner lives of children, it seems fair to also characterize the author of undisguised antipathies as an man who – in some respects – failed “spectacularly, grotesquely and exaggeratedly” as an adult.

44 replies »

  1. Never thought much of Dahl quite frankly. I always found his books and ideas creepy and unnecessarily portrayed adults as venal evil usurpers of children’s souls. I suppose Dahl’s writings illuminate more about the man’s personal inner depravity than previously known.

  2. Still waiting for your dramatic pieces on other key widely celebrated anti-Semites:

    – Theodore Herzl
    – Arthur Balfour
    – Louis Brandeis

    Or are valuable anti-Semites forgiven their prejudices?

        • You mean everything Troll-esque about having nothing to say about the article so let’s shift the goggles slightly to the way I was looking to fit my world view.
          Stick to the article at hand please, Avrumale Melamed.
          If you are indeed an Avram you should know who he was.

          • Itsik,
            “so let’s shift the goggles slightly to the way I was looking to fit my world view.”……. you should read his blog! Talk about looking-to-fit-my-world.
   his flickr link is at the bottom . Looking to fit my world. The world of the resident troll.

              • Snigger,
                I am merely helping in his self emasculation. Yet I grant you, he feeds of attention. Class A narcissist. Something Lefties often have in common. It must be the ‘I will save the world’ feeding into the web-ego faux humanism. Very potent. Watch Max Blumenthal on RT TV, he is so proud of himself, mimicking the cutting edge ‘progressive’ activist on Putin State TV. Good stuff. Huffing and puffing.

        •    The other day Another Joshua wrote:

          Not so long ago, you made a comment in which you appeared to readily agree with the Corrie family’s lawyer absurd comment about “rule of law” in Nazi Germany trumping the Israeli system, at the beginning or otherwise of the regime.

          Your new comment a few days later, and in contesxt with the last if I may say so , is so breathtaking, (your prediliction for German wartime photos aside), in its audaciousness to attack a comment that tries to illustrate a single point about attacking Jews with impunity, a feature that was of course a common occurence in Germany in the 30s that of course got immeasurably worse than just spitting as time progressed – that one cannot take anything you say, seriously.
          You write stuff without really thinking about what you say. The overriding purpose seems to be to “attack”, not moderate or disagree or agree.

    • Sigh. Avram, this is not one of your more interesting comments. There’s nothing wrong with provoking every now and then, but your reply is just not serious.

    • Avram: “Or are valuable anti-Semites forgiven their prejudices?”

      Only an anti-Semite like you would even consider anti-Semites to be of value. You want forgiveness, go and ask the Pope. Perhaps you’ll even get a free ticket to South America.

  3. “There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity, maybe it’s a kind of lack of generosity towards non-Jews.”

    Yes, now I see it.
    This is the reason why my Christian German grandmother’s family refused to have anything to do with her, in the late 20’s Czechoslovakia, as soon as they found out she is dating a Jew.

    They refused to even help her children after her death and when her Jewish husbend (my grand dad) had to send them away in November 1938.

    Yes, Dahl’s explanation makes sense to me now…

  4. There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity, maybe it’s a kind of lack of generosity towards non-Jews.

    I have to admit my lack of generosity to non-Jews like Roald Dahl is pretty spectacular. But then his lack of generosity towards my people is legendary.

    Mr Rosen should get his head out of his backside.

  5. Michal Rosen’s wet dreams about his beloved hero Roald Dahl are understandable. Why shouldn’t a vicious Israel hater Jew worship a well known anti-semite?

  6. Dahl the damaged narcissist. The following link to an Independent article rings more true than the drooling of Rosen:


    “He survived a traumatic childhood (his sister Astri, four years his senior, died when he was three, his father shortly afterwards) to do well at school sport, and become a flying ace in the Second World War. He remained a delinquent schoolboy into adulthood. His attitude to the rich, older women he serially seduced was antediluvian: he explained to the readers of Ladies’ Home Journal that what made relationships work was 70 per cent sexual attraction and 30 per cent respect, so that brief, physical affairs were ideal. The notches on his bedpost included Martha Gellhorn, while she was still married to Hemingway (she considered Dahl “very attractive and slightly mad”), Annabella Power, wife of Tyrone (she thought him “kind of impossible”), and Elizabeth Arden, the cosmetics queen (“It didn’t last long,” he coolly told friends, “but it cured my spots”).

    “He had several affairs while married to Patricia Neal, the actress who died recently. After Neal had a stroke, he conducted, virtually under her nose, an affair with Felicity (“Liccy”) Crosland, whom he later married.

    “It is, however, his overweening rudeness to people that’s most striking. “He felt himself to be the self-righteous, dominant paterfamilias,” writes Sturrock, “who criticised others but was himself beyond reproach.” Dahl was wary of English literary intellectuals, by whom he felt intimidated, because of his lack of university education….”

  7. You may well be correct about the narcissistic damage and spiteful rage, Yohoho.

    From what I know of him he acted mainly for effect, and may well have felt empty inside unless he created controversy.

    Perhaps the Jew-hatred inspired him. The narcissism certainly comes through in the Independent’s account of the sort of person he was and how he treated others:

    “.. a man of considerable fury and contempt for people who crossed him, or whom he considered beneath him. The creator of Willy Wonka, the Twits and Fantastic Mr Fox was often less than fantastic as a human being…”

  8. Michael Rosen is a supporter of the so-called ‘Socialist Workers Party’, a red-brown political grouping which (until it became too embarrassing) gave Gilad Atzmon a platform to express his views.

    His lack of any reference to Dahl’s Jew-hatred should not be considered a surprise.

  9. Here’s some interesting biography I gleaned, Mitnaged,

    “Dahl had an idyllic childhood until the age of 3, when his older sister suddenly died and was followed, weeks later, by her heartbroken father. This was the beginning of a toxic tsunami of bad luck that would toss Dahl around for the rest of his life. When he was a boy, his nose was cut off in a car accident. (A doctor sewed it back on.) Then he was shipped off to boarding school in England, where he suffered all the traditional miseries. In World War II, he became one of the RAF’s most promising pilots—only to crash his plane, on his first official day of flying, in the Libyan Desert. As he lay there fighting for consciousness—his skull fractured, his spine wrenched out of place, his eyes swollen shut by burns, his poor reattached nose driven back into his face—his airplane’s machine guns, stoked by the heat, started shooting at him. (Dahl later mythologized this, telling people he’d been shot down.) ……

    “But Dahl was also, much of the time, world-historically unpleasant. As a boy he wrapped his sister in pillows and shot BBs at her. As an adult he picked loud fights at dinner parties just to create a spectacle. He bullied editors, sold out friends, and insulted his children.”

    If his residual personality was narcissistic, then it would have been natural to such a one to externalise the terrible bad luck which seemed to follow him throughout his life and blame it on others (and why not the Jews) rather than be stoical in the face of it.


  10. The Guardian almost always uses Jewish writers to attack Israel and/or defend Judeophobes like Dahl, Wagner, Hamas officials etc

    It’s a transparent tactic in their war against Jews and Israel (which comes from a Marxist perspective).

  11. Here in Berlin there’s an international/bilingual junior school that was looking for a new name a good 10 years ago. The original idea was for Roald Dahl – until someone discovered the unsavoury comments cited here. So instead the school now bears the name of Dahl’s illustrator Quentin Blake.

    • Oh dear. We appear to have a bunch of idiots averse to new, relevant and perfectly harmless information.

      Why does CiFW seem to attract such a high proportion of troglodytes?

  12. But why the headline “The Guardian, Roald Dahl …”?

    Why pick on the Guardian?

    Hollywood has made many movies based on Dahl’s books. Does that make the studios somehow supportive of anti-Semitism?

  13. He was an absurdly gifted writer. As long as I am concerned, what matters is his work not his private life. As a teacher, every time I read his stories to my students, they are absolutely fascinated with his characters. I can only wish that every troubled individual could write as well as he could. Who cares about what he privately liked or not? He was not a politician. We don’t have to agree with him.