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EXPLAINED: Why Norwegians love Roald Dahl so much

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: Why Norwegians love Roald Dahl so much
Here's why Roald Dahl is so popular in Norway. A picture of author Roald Dahl (L) is seen on display at the newly renovated Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden, north-west of London, England on October 16, 2018. - From a dingy and macabre hut tucked away in the English countryside, author Roald Dahl dreamed up worlds that have enchanted youngsters across the globe. Stuffed with hundreds of weird and wonderful mementos, the garden hut was where the cherished children's novelist sat in a battered armchair and wrote his fantastical tales. A museum including a replica of the hut in the same village of Great Missenden where Dahl lived reopens to the public on Saturday following an extensive renovation triggered by a flash flood. (Photo by Robin MILLARD / AFP)

The much-loved children's author Roald Dahl holds a special place in the hearts of many in Norway who grew up reading his books, with many of the author's works being inspired by his Norwegian heritage and love for the country. 

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Renowned worldwide for his best-selling children's novels such as Giant PeachCharlie and the Chocolate FactoryBFG and Matilda, Roald Dahl's works have recently been back in the headlines due to changes being made to the books to make them more inclusive. 

The changes are being made in the UK, where Dahl was born. However, he hasn't just captured the imagination of audiences in English-speaking countries. One of the nations where he is most loved, revered and celebrated is Norway. 

Born in Wales (Cardiff) and schooled in England, Dahl actually has incredibly strong ties to Norway. For starters, he is named after Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen. Not only that, but both his parents were from Norway, and Norwegian was spoken by the family at home. 

As well as speaking Norwegian and being Anglo-Norwegian, Dahl was baptised at the Norwegian Church in Cardiff and the family was raised Lutheran. Norway's state church is based on a Lutheran doctrine. As a child, he spent summers in Norway in and around idyllic towns like Tjøme and Drøbak. As an adult, he would vacation in Norway, spending summers in Fevik. 

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His love of this part of Norway is said to appear in Matilda, particularly the cabin where the kind-hearted teacher lives surrounded by mountains and firtrees, the surroundings themselves sounding like a typical Norwegian hytte. 

He also wrote fondly of his summers in Boy: Tales of Childhood, with some of his memories seeming as if they were lifted straight from one of his own fictional children's books, such as replacing the tobacco in the pipe of his half-sister's fiancé with goat droppings. 

Norwegian folklore also served as an inspiration for his works. His mother, Sofie Dahl, told the young Roald stories about legends and myths from Norway, with his mother later serving as the inspiration for the grandmother in The Witches, partly set in Norway. 

On the other hand, the basis of the cruel antagonists found in Dahl's children's books were the English public school teachers during his years of schooling in England. 

Dahl's own love and ties to Norway help in part to explain how he has endeared himself to many a Norwegian and came to be seen as a national treasure in Norway. Translations of his books have been bestsellers in Norway, despite Dahl never writing a book in Norwegian and his style being Anglo-American in nature. 

Another explanation is Norwegian's deep sense of patriotism. Norwegians are very proud of their compatriots who make a splash on the world stage. For example, Roald is named after a world-famous polar explorer himself. 

Therefore, an author of Dahl's stature, being of Norwegian origin, is a great source of national pride for many Norwegians- in addition to his books being celebrated for their literary qualities. 

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