Roald Dahl: 'Don't ignore anti-Semitism in centenary'

Roald Dahl Image copyright Getty Images

Anti-Semitic remarks made by Roald Dahl should not be ignored as part of the events to mark the centenary of his birth, an author has said.

Dahl has been honoured with a two-day celebration which saw thousands of people line the streets of Cardiff.

In 1983, he said in the New Statesman Adolf Hitler "didn't just pick on them [Jewish people] for no reason".

Aberystwyth author Jasmine Donahaye said: "We need to address it, acknowledge it, discuss it."

In the same New Statesman publication, Dahl said: "There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity."

Dr Donahaye tweeted that Dahl's anti-Semitism was "well known and ugly".

Organisers have been asked to comment.

Celebrations to mark 100 years since the author was born in Cardiff began on Saturday in the capital and continue on Sunday.

Dr Donahaye told BBC Radio Wales' Sunday Supplement this ugly side of Dahl should not be glossed over.

"I don't think we should not celebrate him... it's an opportunity, and particularly because he's a children's writer, to use it as a jumping off point for a discussion."

Image copyright Jasmine Donahaye/Twitter

But Plaid Cymru's Dwyfor Meirionnydd AM Dafydd Elis-Thomas said: "I would definitely say there's a world of difference between the views of an author and the literary production that we are celebrating - for me this was a huge carnival about a literary production."

On Saturday, a giant peach was carried through Cardiff and taken to the castle as part of the celebrations and Sunday sees a great pyjama picnic in Bute Park.

But Dr Donahaye said this darker side should not be neglected amid the festivities.

"Roald Dahl is an excellent opportunity to raise the issue with children and start to discuss it with children and bring to their awareness how that discourse manifests - obviously in an age-appropriate way.

"If there's public funding going into a centenary celebration I think there's an onus on us to look at the complexity of that figure that we're celebrating - maybe that makes the celebration a bit more nuanced, a little bit darker, but that's appropriate.

"I don't think they [the organisers] have been dishonest, I think it's a missed opportunity."

More on this story

Around the BBC