LONDON: The family of British children’s books writer Roald Dahl apologised on Sunday for historical anti-Semitic comments made by the renowned author.

Dahl, the creator of books such as Matilda”, The BFG and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory who died in 1990, made the offensive remarks in a 1983 interview with the New Statesman magazine.

In a statement posted on the website of The Roald Dahl Story Company, the family and firm said they “deeply apologise for the lasting and understandable hurt caused by some of Roald Dahl’s statements”.

“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,” it added.

“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.”

In the 1983 interview, Dahl said “there is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity, maybe it’s a kind of lack of generosity towards non-Jews.

He added: “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.”

The comments have long cast a shadow over Dahl’s personal legacy, which has remained prominent as a number of his children’s classics have made it onto the screen and stage since his death aged 74.

They include the 2005 second film version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp, and 1996’s Matilda movie.

A musical production chronicling that story of a genius five-year-old was also staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2010.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2020

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