One wonders what Trollope would have made of Roald Dahl’s writings. Certainly Dahl reached darker parts of the human psyche than Trollope’s audience was ready to explore. But Trollope understood the tortuous workings of the human mind and the depths to which it could plunge. No reader of He Knew He Was Right could come away without being profoundly affected by the insights into the soul of Louis Trevelyan.
It is to this darker side of Dahl’s writing that Penguin Modern Classics refers in its defence of the new cover of its 50th anniversary edition of the children’s book Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. The cover has been attacked by critics and other authors have weighed in. Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat, said: “I’m not sure why adults need a different cover anyway, but who was it who decided that ‘adult’ meant ‘inappropriately sexualised’?”
I certainly find it a disturbing image. The doll-like glassiness of the girl’s stare and her mannequin-like adult make-up are unsettling. I am sure that Trollope would have found this so. But what do you think?