Roald Dahl’s Family Apologizes for His Anti-Semitism

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tags: literature, antisemitism, Roald Dahl

LONDON — The family of Roald Dahl has apologized for “the lasting and understanding hurt” caused by anti-Semitic comments the author made during his lifetime.

Mr. Dahl, the writer of classic children’s books such as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “The BFG,” made several disparaging comments about Jewish people in interviews and in his writing, and made no secret of his anti-Semitism.

“Those prejudiced remarks are incomprehensible to us and stand in marked contrast to the man we knew and to the values at the heart of Roald Dahl’s stories,” the Dahl family and the Roald Dahl Story Company wrote in the online statement.

“We hope that, just as he did at his best, at his absolute worst, Roald Dahl can help remind us of the lasting impact of words,” the statement added.

The apology was in such an obscure part of the author’s website that it was unclear how long it had been there. The Sunday Times, a British newspaper, drew attention to the statement in an article on Sunday.

Mr. Dahl, who died in 1990 at 74, has a complicated legacy.


But Mr. Dahl’s self-avowed anti-Semitism has cast a shadow over his work.

“There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity,” Mr. Dahl said in a 1983 interview with The New Statesman.

He reinforced his views in another interview months before his death in 1990: “I am certainly anti-Israel, and I have become anti-Semitic,” he said, according to The Independent, a British newspaper.

Upon Mr. Dahl’s death, Abraham Foxman, then the national director of the Anti-Defamation League in the United States, called him a “blatant and admitted anti-Semite” in a letter to The New York Times, pointing out that in a 1983 book review the author had referred to “those powerful American Jewish bankers” and claimed that the U.S. government was “utterly dominated by the great Jewish financial institutions over there.”

Read entire article at New York Times

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