Monday, May 5, 2014

Roald Dahl and Philosophy edited by Jacob M. Heid

I think most kids read Roald Dahl. Well, I'm not sure about kids today, but when I was a kid, everyone was reading Roald Dahl. Him and Enid Blyton. But today, I want to talk about Roald Dahl.

Roald Dahl was the guy that wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. And Matilda. And well, a bunch of other stuff, including the short stories that I only discovered when I grew up (and that's a good thing because his short stories are dark). The whole premise of this book is that Roald Dahl's books are excellent material to use when talking about philosophy because of that element of darkness in the books. After all, all this books start of with people in dire straits - Charlie is starving to death, Matilda is neglected and abused, James is an orphan abused by his guardians, etc.

Topics in this book include:
- Matilda, Existentialist Superhero
- Of Mice and (Posthu)Man: Roald Dahl's The Witches and Ethics beyond Humanism
- Matilda and the Philosophy of Education: or, What's an Education for?
- Shattering the Glass Elavator: Authencity and Social Order in the Works of Roald Dahl
- The Fantasically Just Mr. Fox: Property and Distributive Justice According to Foxes and Other diggers

and so on. There is a total of 16 topics in this book. Some are easier to digest than others, but on the whole, if you're familiar with Roald Dahl, you should be able to understand what the authors are talking about,

My favourite chapter is Matilda and the Philosophy of Education: or, What's an Education for? In this chapter, three schools of education - essentialism, progressivism and romanticism is examined through the book Matilda and its various characters. I admit, it's not the first topic that comes to mind when I think of Matilda (I think of bullying when I think of this book - bullying by adults), but I found this to be an eye-opening read.

I'm definitely saving up for a hard-copy of this book.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.


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  2. Hello. I wrote the Matilda essay that you read in "Roald Dahl and Philosophy." I'm glad you liked it. Be sure to check out other essays that I've written in the popular culture and philosophy genre. You can find the list on or in my LinkedIn profile, under my "Publications."

    John V. Karavitis


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