The Folklore of Roald Dahl

Steven Spielberg has taken on the job of directing the classic children’s novel, The Big Friendly Giant or BFG for short by beloved British writer Roald Dahl. That’s quite a feat for the deceased writer of such classics as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches, Matilda and James in the Giant Peach. It seems his stories touches humans of all walks of life that Spielberg is a master of exploring. It seems his material is universal and we shall explore this further.

All great literature utilizes folklore. By folklore, I mean concepts of spirituality, mysticism, legend, myth and fable. Roald Dahl was no different, sometimes mixing dark themes such as in his short story Gremlins- a modern legend about little monster people destroying RAF aircraft during World War Two. Later, he who would go onto write The Witches which is another example of the darker side of Dahl. Of course, The Witches and the majority of his other classic novels are quite light hearted to not frighten even the smallest of children. However, it’s not always like that with Roald Dahl. He also wrote adult versions of enchanting fairy tales such as Cinderella early on in his career.

Roald Dahl artIn Cinderella, Dahl takes the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale; creating something fresh from old material. Of course, the Brother’s Grimm were astute researchers of cultural legends and popular folklore. Their collective work is just that- a documentation of traditional folklore. Rolad Dahl seems to have been interested in folklore both common and world wide. Elements from the traditional Japanese folklore of Peach Boy were used in the Novel James in the Peach. Regardless, the works of Roald Dahl still remain beloved for a reason. The writer himself gave a fresh and entertaining approach to these beloved stories.

The BFG is no different in that respect. In fact, the legend of giants shows up in even the old testament of the bible in stories such as David and Goliath. So again, we see the Roald Dahl’s mastery of legend and folklore.

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