Should We Support Problematic Books & Authors?

“For some he was a war hero, a philanthropist and a profoundly altruistic man. For others he was a bully, a misogynist, and even an anti-Semite.”

Can you guess which author these words refer to? Here’s a hint: he was a children’s author recognised for his imaginative and humorous stories. Some of his most well-known books include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda.

You probably know the answer — the person being referred to is none other than Roald Dahl.

Roald_Dahl
Roald Dahl | Source: Rob Bogaerts/Anefo, via Wikimedia Commons (licensed under CC0)

Apparently, the well-loved children’s author was not so universally well-loved after all. The article from which the earlier quote is taken describes how others have perceived Dahl as intellectual yet arrogant; determined, yet selfish; a source of joy for the world, yet also controlling and disloyal.

True, accounts may be subjective. But questionable personality aside, Dahl’s books also contain problematic elements, such as traces of misogyny and unrestrained cruelty against children.

This discussion might seem irrelevant, considering it’s been decades since Dahl passed away. But his books are still around — as are other authors similar to him, whose actions and/or works have potentially problematic aspects.

Continue reading “Should We Support Problematic Books & Authors?”

Harry Potter’s London // Letters to October (9)

Dear October,

A day before I left home again, I started re-reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It’s a battered copy with my name written in it in sparkly gel pen — three times. As I packed, I snuck it into my bag, leaving new, unread books behind. It’s not a coincidence that this slightly melancholy moment in my life unfolded between the pages of a Harry Potter book. When I first started university, I took Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone with me to deal with homesickness. And the more MA coursework I got stuck into this year, the more re-reads of the series I did.

Over the years, Harry Potter has become a source of comfort. Last January was such an occasion. The New Year’s festivities were behind us, leaving the world slightly deflated of energy, as if everyone were thinking, ‘What now?’. The days seemed comprised of darkness and frost. My friends and I decided to bring a bit of magical cheer into one dismal winter day by planning a Harry Potter tour of London. Here are the locations we risked frostbite to visit:

1. Platform 9 3/4

We started the day at none other than the iconic platform 9 3/4. Here, you can take a picture with the trolley, take a look around the shop and if you’re lucky, go through the barrier and spend the rest of the day in the wizarding world.

Continue reading “Harry Potter’s London // Letters to October (9)”