This is the first single-authored monograph on Roald Dahl since 1994. Remarkably, in spite of Dahl’s commercial success, and the divided opinions he generates, very little scholarly work on the author has been produced.
In the light of sociocultural constructivist theory, De-constructing Dahl focuses on the critical context, texts and paratexts that make up the packaging of “Dahl.” It offers the first thorough overview of the criticism and the language employed to discuss Dahl since the 1970s, the difficulties that using such language entails, and how it still permeates current criticism. It delves into the relationship between Dahl’s children’s and adult fiction by drawing comparisons and contrasts and exploring the common traits and patterns that bring his whole work together. It also examines how Dahl constructed himself as a children’s writer; how his publishing house and allies contribute to mediating and sustaining the Dahl public persona; the ways that marketing strategies are responsible for the identity of his books; and how editorial decisions about the age range, and, therefore, how the classification of a manuscript as a book for children or for adults constructs particular ideas of what “children’s literature” is, and what is considered “appropriate” or “unsuitable” for children to read.
Laura Viñas Valle received her MA and European Doctorate in children’s literature from the University of Reading and Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. She has taught English and Spanish in Higher Education in the UK and Spain. Her publications include translations and adaptations of Latin American picture-books, and articles on Roald Dahl and Spanish children’s literature.
"De-constructing Dahl by Laura Vinãs Valle is a reconsideration of the work of Roald Dahl for both adults and children. This is a comprehensive analysis which brings the criticism on Dahl’s work up to date. Her approach is to analyse the extant scholarship and to question the theoretical assumptions underpinning the work. She also includes Dahl’s own constructions of childhood and the implications of the underlying assumptions which formulate his notions of writing for children. Her examination brings together oppositional approaches to the appreciation of his output; those who admire and those who critique Dahl. This produces a thought provoking text which dispels much of the imprecise thinking which can pervade appreciation and, unfortunately, criticism of writing for children. A strength which emerges is discussion of the influence that writing for children has on cultural constructions of childhood and what values are associated with this construct. An added bonus is that she situates Dahl’s work within the cultural para-texts, such as the publication strategies, and practice in libraries which gives a wide-ranging assessment of how and why Dahl is so influential. This extension of the study serves as a model for those wishing to engage in literary criticism, especially in the area of children’s literature."
Professor Jean Webb Director of the International Forum for Research in Children’s Literature, University of Worcester
"Over the years, there has been very little academic literature published on Roald Dahl. The 100th anniversary since his birth is a fitting time for a new work to appear. De-constructing Dahl by Laura Viñas Valle provides a thorough overview of the criticism used to discuss Dahl and addresses his ability to write successfully for both children and adults. The author focuses on matters that surround the texts including the packaging of Dahl as a children's writer. She delves into the relationship between Dahl's children's and adult fiction and explores common traits that bring his work together. This title will be of immense interest to those who are keen to delve deeper into the phenomenon that is Roald Dahl."
Carousel: The Guide to Children's Books, 63 (2016)
"The long list of sources, acknowledgments and references is proof that the author spent a substantial amount of time immersed in research on this famous, highly complex and controversial author in an attempt to subject Dahl “to a de-constructing process which has entailed analysing the assumptions that underpin claims made about ‘children’, ‘childhood’ and ‘children’s literature’” (165). [...] It is a valuable and detailed resource which examines Dahl in a social, cultural and literary context, but which also sheds some light on the contents of Dahl’s hut, what went on in there, and why it delights us so much."
Željka Flegar Libri & Liberi, 5:2 (2016)
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