Today I read The BFG.
It’s been a tough week, and an even tougher few months. So, there seemed no better moment to take a trip back in time to a childhood of simpler times.
Plus, bonus, the children’s classic holds the 56th spot on the BBC Top 100; so whilst soothing my soul I was also forging ahead in the completion of bucket list item #36.
I recall reading the story of Sophie and the Big Friendly Giant whilst at school. At the time, it was merely a tale of a little girl who goes on a grand adventure to Giant Country after being snatched from her bed. This time around however, I discovered so much more between the pages of adventure and the innocent words.
Born in Cardiff, Wales in 1916, Roald Dahl quickly made a name for himself and soon earned the title of “the most popular writer of children’s books since Enid Blyton.” Famed for his twisting tales of trolls and witches, Dahl’s dark themes emerged from a childhood with his Norwegian mother laced with dark Scandinavian fables.
His first published children’s book was James and the Giant Peach in 1961, which was followed in the succeeding 20+ plus years by the books that defined my youth; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr Fox, Danny, the Champion of the World, Matilda and, of course, The BFG.
When we were younger, we often wished for the days when we would be free to make our own decisions. We wished they would come sooner than the timeline life had in place.
Now that I am technically “here”, right in the throes of adulthood, it’s akin to looking both ways before crossing the road and then getting hit by an airplane. The world around me now bears a startlingly close resemblance to the pictures painted by The BFG one hundred years ago.
Hidden among the classics, you might just find a gem.
“Do not forget, the BFG said, that human beans is disappearing everywhere all the time even without the giants is guzzling them up. Human beans is killing each other much quicker than the giants is doing it…Human beans is the only animals that is killing their own kind…They is shootling guns and going up in aerioplanes to drop their bombs on each other’s heads every week. Human beans is always killing other human beans.”
It’s a scary thought, to think our species can be likened to the abhorrent and callous Fleshlumpeater, Bonecruncher, Childchewer, Meatdripper and Bloodblottler, isn’t it? *They are giants from the book, in case you completely lost me there.
As I tagged along with Sophie in the pocket of the friendly giant, peeping out at the world around, I was reminded why I love this land of literature so much.
As a Swedish proverb says; “In a good book the best is between the lines.” Even amongst the pages of a ‘children’s book’ we can find clarity and direction.
That may be what I have grown to love most about books. Their ability to offer a friend in times of loneliness, clarity amidst the fog and strength in moments of weakness. Maybe we can even find some valuable lessons amidst the pages…
“I do not approve of murder…But they are murderers themselves! cried the Head of the Army. That is no reason why we should follow their example…Two wrongs don’t make a right. And two rights don’t make a left!”
This may just be a fantastical tale of an orphaned girl and her best friend, who just so happens to be a twenty-four-foot giant. Or maybe, between the lines of the fairytale, you’ll find a story about life and its imperfections; a story about a little girl who had the courage and the belief that one person really can make a difference in the world.
So lose yourself amongst the pages and then tell me; am I right…or am I left?
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