Happy 100th Birthday to Roald Dahl — Beloved Author and Vile Anti-Semite

Born on September 13, 1916, Roald Dahl, the beloved author of “Matilda” and “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” would have turned 100 today. It’s an anniversary we mark with admiration and a bit of uncertainty as well. For, aside from his brilliant imaginaton and wicked sense of humor, Dahl was also something of an unrepentant anti-Semite.

In 1983, he told the New Statesman, “There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity, maybe it’s a kind of lack of generosity towards non-Jews. I mean, there’s always a reason why anti-anything crops up anywhere; even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason. I mean, if you and I were in a line moving towards what we knew were gas chambers, I’d rather have a go at taking one of the guards with me; but they [the Jews] were always submissive.”

In 1990, he told the Independent, “I am certainly anti-Israel, and I have become anti-Semitic.”

In his biography of Roald Dahl, Jeremy Treglown wrote that Dahl once complained about the number of Jews in the Curzon House Club and, when people objected to Dahl’s outburst, reportedly told them, “Go home if you don’t like it.” And, Treglown reported further that after the 1982 Israeli attack on Lebanon, Dahl wrote, “we all started hating the Jews.”

Still, in his “authorized biography” of Dahl, Donald Sturrock wrote in “Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl” that Dahl said he had “quite a few pints of Jewish blood” in his veins. Apparently, he made this dubious claim with regard to his Norwegian grandmother

On the subject of another supremely gifted author, Salman Rushdie, Dahl was once quoted as saying, “Tell him he’s a sh—.”

One might well have said something similar about Mr. Dahl.

Tagged as:

Author

Forward Staff

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Happy 100th Birthday to Roald Dahl — Beloved Author and Vile Anti-Semite

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close