Margaret Talbot writes about the new cover for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Next month, Penguin U.K. will issue a fiftieth-anniversary edition of Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” under its Modern Classics imprint, with a cover design that is strangely but tellingly misbegotten. The image is a photograph, taken from a French fashion shoot, of a glassy-eyed, heavily made-up little girl. Behind her sits a mother figure, stiff and coiffed, casting an ominous shadow. The girl, with her long, perfectly waved platinum-blond hair and her pink feather boa, looks like a pretty and inert doll—one immediate association is with JonBenét Ramsey. As Sarah Kaplannoted in the Washington Post, “much of the literary world was not sold on the rebranding. Why did the cover of a novel about five kids and a wonderful—if admittedly bizarre—candy-maker look like a scene from ‘Toddlers & Tiaras’? Commenters on Penguin’s Facebook page called it ‘creepy,’ ‘sexualized’ and ‘inappropriate garbage.’ ”
Read more at: http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultura…
But the really sensational new is that a chapter from an early draft of Dahl’s novel has been published. Called “The Vanilla Fudge Room,” it contains the classic sadistic touches:
“Now, now,” murmured Mr Willy Wonka soothingly. “Now, now, now. Calm down, everybody, please. If the four parents concerned will kindly go along with this assistant of mine here, they will be taken directly to (the) room where their boys are waiting. You see, we have a large wire strainer in there which is used specially for catching children before they fall into the machine. It always catches them. At least it always has up to now.”
Read the entire chapter at: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/au…
And thanks to my former student, the wonderful Laura Hirschberg, here is the link to an essay that captures all the heartache and grief of the years during which Dahl worked on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Here’s an excerpt from Lucy Mangan’s essay. Great Ormond Street Hospital, by the way, is the institution to which J.M. Barrie gave the rights to Peter Pan.
But then Theo was almost killed when a cab hit his pram in New York. He survived, but developed hydrocephalus. The shunt put in his head to drain the fluid kept clogging, nearly killing him each time. Dahl mined Theo’s neurosurgeon Kenneth Till for every ounce of his knowledge then took the problem to his friend Stanley Wade who, in a twist you wouldn’t dare write, was an engineer whose hobby was making miniature engines for toy aeroplanes and whose job was running a factory that produced precision hydraulic pumps.
Together, the three men invented the Wade-Dahl-Till valve for Theo and the thousands of other children in his situation. In June 1962, the first one was inserted into the head of a patient in London’s Great Ormond Street hospital. It worked beautifully. Theo was well enough not to need it by then, but over the years it was used to treat thousands of children all over the world.
Dahl went back to his book.