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Article  •  13 May 2016

 

Life according to Roald Dahl

Lessons in life from the works of the legendary children’s author.

Want the answers to life’s big questions? Look no further than these extracts from some of Roald Dahl’s most-loved works to find the answers.

 

On love and marriage

‘Can you hear him, Danny?’
‘Yes,’ I said,
‘That is a bullfrog calling to his wife. He does it by blowing out his dewlap and letting it go with a burp.’
‘What is a dewlap?’ I asked.
‘It’s the loose skin on his throat. He can blow it up just like a balloon.’
‘What happens when his wife hears him?’
‘She goes hopping over to him. She is very happy to have been invited. But I’ll tell you something very funny about the old bullfrog. He often becomes so pleased with the sound of his own voice that his wife has to nudge him several times before he’ll stop his burping and turn round to hug her.’
That made me laugh.
‘Don’t laugh too loud,’ he said, twinkling at me with his eyes. ‘We men are not so very different from the bullfrog.’


Danny the Champion of the World

 

On the meaning of life

‘I is not understanding human beans at all,’ the BFG said. ‘You is a human bean and you is saying it is grizzling and horrigust for giants to be eating human beans. Right or left?’
‘Right,’ Sophie said.
‘But human beans is squishing each other all the time,’ the BFG said. ‘They is shootling guns and going up in aerioplanes to drop their bombs on each other’s heads every week. Human beans is always killing other human beans.’
He was right. Of course he was right and Sophie knew it. She was beginning to wonder whether humans were actually any better than giants. ‘Even so,’ she said, defending her own race, ‘I think it’s rotten that those foul giants should go off every night to eat humans. Humans have never done them any harm.’
‘That is what the little piggy-wig is saying every day,’ the BFG answered. ‘He is saying, “I has never done any harm to the human bean so why should he be eating me?”’
‘Oh dear,’ Sophie said.’


The BFG

 

On parents

‘In any event, parents never underestimated the abilities of their own children. Quite the reverse. Sometimes it was well nigh impossible for a teacher to convince the proud father or mother that their beloved offspring was a complete nitwit.’

Matilda

 

On money

‘It was slowly beginning to dawn upon Henry that nothing is any fun if you can get as much of it as you want. Especially money.’

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, and Six More

 

On death

‘In 1920, when I was still only three, my mother’s eldest child, my own sister Astri, died from appendicitis. She was seven years old when she died, which was also the age of my own eldest daughter, Olivia, when she died from measles 42 years later.’

‘Astri was far and away my father’s favourite. He adored her beyond measure and her sudden death left him literally speechless for days afterwards. He was so overwhelmed with grief that when he himself went down with pneumonia a month or so afterwards, he did not much care whether he lived or died.’


Boy: Tales of Childhood

 

Article originally appeared on penguin.co.uk

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