Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Dr. Dahl to Surgery, Stat
... [Roald] Dahl is of that select society of Saki (the pen name of H.H. Munro), Evelyn Waugh, Muriel Spark, and Iris Murdoch, satiric moralists who wield the English language like a surgical instrument to flay, dissect, and expose human folly. (Joyce Carol Oates in The New York Review of Books on Dahl's "Collected Stories").
Dahl's females are particularly grotesque specimens, like Mrs. Ponsonby of "Nunc Dimittis" who is "so incredibly short and squat and stiff, [she looked as if] she had no legs at all above the knees," has a "salmon mouth" and fingers "like a bunch of small white snakes wriggling in her lap." (Oates ... and Dahl).
And from Dahl ...
I was able to take most of it in—the metallic silver-blue hair with every strand glued into place, the brown pig-eyes, the long sharp nose sniffing for trouble, the curled lips, the prognathous jaw, the powder, the mascara, the scarlet lipstick and, most shattering of all, the massive shored-up bosom that projected like a balcony in front of her.
More from Dahl ...
When she marched—Miss Trunchbull never walked, she always marched like a storm-trooper with long strides and arms aswinging—when she marched along a corridor you could actually hear her snorting as she went, and if a group of children happened to be in her path, she ploughed through them like a tank, with small people bouncing off her to left and right.