“The Amazing Eyes of Kuda Bux”

It’s not often I get to read a story by Roald Dahl that I’ve never read before! Recently I had that wonderful thrill though when I finally managed to track down a copy of Dahl’s 1952 essay “The Amazing Eyes of Kuda Bux” in an old magazine on eBay. I knew that Kuda Bux had been a real person, an Indian fakir who walked on fire and claimed to be able to see without his eyes. I knew that Dahl had written a “hard-to-believe true story” about Bux, and then twenty-five years later used him as inspiration for “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.” What I hadn’t realised though was just how much of “Henry Sugar” was already present in the earlier work. I’d estimate that 90% of the fictional account of Imhrat Khan’s life in “Henry Sugar” is reproduced nearly verbatim from the earlier essay. I’ve detailed the differences between the texts here if you’re interested. I guess the lesson is that Dahl didn’t hesitate at reusing and recycling earlier work when it suited him!


Roald Dahl’s Billy and the Minpins coming this autumn

Did you know that the title of The Minpins is changing? According to this blog post from roalddahl.com, a new edition will be published in 2017 entitled “Billy and the Minpins.” The book will also feature illustrations by Quentin Blake for the first time ever.

Luke Kelly, Managing Director of the Roald Dahl Literary Estate and Roald Dahl’s grandson, said: “The Minpins was Roald Dahl’s final story for children and it is the only one his principal illustrator Sir Quentin Blake has yet to illustrate… The new title is drawn from the title Roald gave to an early draft of the story. We think it’s perfect as Billy is a quintessential Roald Dahl hero and deserves to be seen in the same light as Charlie, Matilda, James, Sophie and all the other child heroes readers around the world know and love.”

You can read more over at roalddahl.com!




Willy Wonka Prequel Film in the Works!

Wow. The news feeds are full this week with stories that the Roald Dahl estate is working with Warner Bros. to produce a new film about Willy Wonka. No, it’s not the official sequel Charlie and the Great Class Elevator. Instead it’s going to be a prequel story that comes before the events of the first book. It won’t be an origin story, but rather ” a standalone movie focused on Wonka and his early adventures”. The filmmakers are clearly trying to establish a Potter-like franchise, and they think Wonka could provide the hook.

Reaction seems to be mixed so far. Some fans are upset at this happening and feel it somehow insults Gene Wilder’s memory so soon after his death. Others are surprised that the notoriously picky Dahl estate would back the project.

I’m a little ambivalent about this one. Studios are rushing to establish franchises and “cinematic universes,” but I’m not sure if the Charlie books have enough world-building in them to support it. And unlike the Potter example, we don’t have Dahl himself around to bless the extended canon. The author of the initial Variety piece speculated on Twitter whether Dahl had any unpublished writing about Wonka the screenwriter will be able to use. I’d be surprised if that were the case. (The only scraps I’ve ever seen were from excised chapters and later sequels that never got finished.)

What do you think? Are you excited about this project or wary?

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Upcoming Dahl-related performances

Just added some new Dahl-related Theater & Symphony productions to the site, including some upcoming performances in the UK:

If you attend any of these performances, send me an email afterwards with a review!