Author Roald Dahl was known for a distinctive writing style that included sardonic, yet highly detailed, descriptions, particularly of characters. His descriptions of adult characters often reflected a child's aversion to authority figures in their exaggerated blemishes and other visual flaws.Continue Reading
In the story "Taste," which was published in the collection "Someone Like You," Dahl described a grown man's mouth as a "large, wet keyhole." He was known to assign adjectives such as "shifty" to various adult characters and to be especially disparaging of facial hair, such as in the following passage, from the same story: "The man's lips - like the lips of all bearded men - looked wet and naked, a trifle indecent, shining pink in among all that hair."
Dahl's powers of description took aim at the character Mrs. Pratchett, who also appeared in "Taste." He wrote that, "Her apron was grey and greasy. Her blouse had bits of breakfast all over it, toast-crumbs and tea stains and splotches of dried egg-yolk. ... She was a skinny old hag with a moustache on her upper lip and a mouth as sour as a gooseberry."
Some critics say Dahl's tendency toward the macabre was a result of having experienced the early deaths of his sister and father as well as his intense dislike of school as a child. Over the years, he wrote draft after draft before developing his distinctive, ironic writer's voice.Learn more about Literature