Roald Dahl and Philosophy: A Little Nonsense Now and Then

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9781442222526: Roald Dahl and Philosophy: A Little Nonsense Now and Then

For generations the elements of humor, poignancy, fantasy, and unfettered morality found within acclaimed children’s author Roald Dahl’s most famous tales have captivated both children and adults. Classics like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Matilda, and The BFG may initially appear to be yarns spun for the amusement of the adolescent mind, however, upon digging deeper one uncovers a treasure trove of philosophical richness that is anything but childish, but in fact reveals the true existential weight, and multi-layered meaning of some of our favorite children’s stories. Editor Jacob M. Held has collected the insights of today’s leading philosophers into the significances, messages, and greater truths at which Dahl’s rhythmic writing winks, revealing a whole new way to appreciate the creation of a man and mind to which readers of all ages are still drawn.

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About the Author:

Jacob M. Held is associate professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at the University of Central Arkansas. He is the editor of Dr. Seuss and Philosophy: Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! R&L 2011.

Review:

This book is a masterful look at Roald Dahl's enduring stories, and engages with the wisdom of the ages about dealing with great difficulty, making the best of where we are, and creating our own inner character as we stare into the abyss of challenge and uncertainty in the world. It will be sure to delight any fan of these popular and fantastical tales. (Tom Morris, bestselling author of If Aristotle Ran General Motors, The Stoic Art of Living, The Oasis Within)

Willy Wonka and Kant; Matilda and Camus; James Henry Trotter and Kierkegaard? Odd as these pairings may seem, Roald Dahl and Philosophy shows us that Dahl's fictional characters have a lot in common with these famous philosophers. Readers of this book will be both startled and excited to learn that kids' books have an unimagined philosophical and existential depth. Pick up a copy and see! (Thomas Wartenberg, Professor of Philosophy, Mt. Holyoke College)

There are those who contend that the stories that entertained us in our childhood are not appropriate objects of philosophical analysis. Roald Dahl and Philosophy challenges this view by offering a wide array of insightful and eminently philosophical essays on classics in the Dahl canon. Addressing well-known works such as James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as well lesser known ones such as The Witches, Jacob Held and his contributors draw compelling connections between Dahl’s works and works by canonical figures in philosophy including Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Immanuel Kant, David Hume, John Locke, Soren Kierkegaard, Albert Camus, Michel Foucault, and John Rawls. Examining, among others, how Dahl’s work relates to conversations regarding humanism, horror, distributive justice, gender norms, and existential authenticity, Held and his colleagues literally open a new avenue of access to Dahl’s work, augmenting the delight these works brought us in our childhood, and enhancing our appreciation of this beloved author and his work. (Jennifer L. McMahon, author of The Philosophy of Tim Burton)

[A]n invigorating roundtable discussion. (Publishers Weekly)

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