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.

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2020: The Year of Stories

Isaac Newton said that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Which is probably why, after blogging (nearly) every day for one month, I took the subsequent months year off.

My blogging hiatus was mainly due to a lack of direction. In the past, I’ve let my ‘creative adventures’ guide my content. But over time, I became unsure about the direction this blog was taking.

After taking some time to think, I found a common denominator in many of my interests: stories.

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5 Reasons to Visit the Charles Dickens Museum

Doughty_StreetIn a quieter part of London, nestled near the middle of a quaint little street is a lovely place that not many people seem to know about. 48 Doughty Street was Charles Dickens’ home from 1837 to 1839 and is the location where he wrote The Pickwick PapersNicholas Nickleby and Oliver Twist. It is now the Charles Dickens Museum, where I have been volunteering for the last few months. This may make you think I’m biased in its favour, but it’s genuinely a wonderful place, and here are five reasons you should give it a visit if you get the chance.

1. The museum is not just a collection of Dickens’ belongings, but a carefully curated experience.

Upon walking in, visitors will see letters written by Dickens hanging on one wall, and items such as maps, posters and playbills on the other, all of which relate to Dickens’ life (and to London at the time) in some way. The exhibitions in each room are designed to give you an understanding of what life would have been like at the time — not only for Dickens, but for his household as well. The furniture and everyday items are complemented by decor that forms a narrative. As you move from one room to other, there is an almost lived-in feel to the place; it’s not just a museum building or a house. It’s a home.

2. You are free to create your own experience.

Whilst there is a recommended order in which to look through the rooms, visitors are not obligated to follow this. You can look around at their own leisure and I have seen some spend hours perusing whilst others have been in and out in less than thirty minutes flat. If you take the time, though, each item on display has a certain significance you can find out about.

The reception also sells audio guides that enhance the whole experience and leave you with little kernels of knowledge you can use to impress strangers. Otherwise, the volunteers on duty are also vastly knowledgeable about many aspects of Dickens’ life.

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