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“And For a Knife We Shall Use the Great Sword”: Uncanny Cutlery and its Absence in the Fiction of Roald Dahl.

When she cuts the top off a boiled egg, she pokes around inside it with her spoon as though expecting to find a mouse or something.

Roald Dahl, The Umbrella Man (first published in 1998) 1


Roald Dahl (1916-1990) remains a writer of contradictions and omissions. He had a low opinion of children’s literature, but is best remembered as an author of it. He wrote propaganda for the British armed forces, but both his parents were Norwegian. His books are full of lavish descriptions of food and eating, but one thing is barely ever described: cutlery. This article considers the presence and the lack of cutlery in Dahl’s children’s novel The BFG and the adult short stories Pig and Lamb to the Slaughter. I suggest that in Dahl’s fiction, cutlery represents western society at its most pretentious and its most vulnerable. Its presentation grants readers, both adults and children, a unique opportunity to rethink rituals and principles that they have been taught as fundamental.

Throughout his literary career, Dahl expressed a fascination with food and eating. In his writing for children, particularly, food is a big, messy trope, transporting children from unhappy family units into fictions of self-discovery: there is the giant peach that takes a child to New York, or the chocolate factory where pre-adolescent bodies are stretched and squashed until one child is empowered with ownership of the factory.2 Dahl also produced a cook-book with his wife, and his fiction contains enough references to meals and eating to have prompted volumes of posthumous recipes.3 The act of eating is, for Dahl, an uncanny experience: an everyday ritual made strange, with bizarre foodstuffs like snozzcumbers and crocodile toes, presented as a means to develop both characterisation and plot.

The Familiar and the Unfamiliar

In 1919, Sigmund Freud defined the uncanny as “that class of the frightening which leads back to what is known of old and long familiar”, elaborating that something is uncanny when it returns an individual unexpectedly to logic, sensations, or convictions that they have supposedly grown past.4 The fundamental power of the uncanny, for Freud, is present in its ambiguity as a German word, unheimlich, which signifies both “out of place in the home” and a negation of “unhomely,” suggesting that the uncanny appears “out of place” but brings one essentially “home”.5 “An uncanny experience”, he writes, takes place “when infantile complexes which have been repressed are once more revived by some impression, or when primitive beliefs which have been surmounted seem once more to be confirmed”.6 For example, the standard illustration of the uncanny is an animated lifelike doll: it is uncanny because, intellectually, we know that it cannot be alive, but at the same time, it appears to possess all the qualities of vitality. Freud links this example with a truism that children expect or want their dolls to come alive; it is not scary for them but natural or even desirable, and therefore the “living doll” is uncanny because it returns the adult to the “surmounted” logic of childhood.7 For Freud, then, something is uncanny when it jumps out from the everyday world around us and jolts us back into the less rational world of the id.8

Towards the end of his essay, Freud observes “the privileges enjoyed by story-writers in evoking or excluding an uncanny feeling”.9 In fiction, more than in life, mundane events can be explicitly uncanny while implausible or impossible happenings can come across as perfectly normal. In this regard, story-telling itself can be perceived as an uncanny practise: the author can manipulate moods and emotions, producing “a great variety of effect from the same material.”10 There is, then, something uniquely powerful in fictional evocations of the uncanny because they are, at least in part, deliberate, and can be read in the context of the texts’ broader aims. Dahl’s work repeatedly blends the familiar and the unfamiliar. He would not have been a very good children’s writer if he had failed to introduce new concepts, comfortably contextualised, to his readers.  Beyond that, his universe has its own logic—witches, giants, talking pigs, and telekinetic children are more or less accepted—but with places, buildings, and people recognisable from real life. His stylised fictional world is also the real world, viewed somewhat askance: within these parameters, he is able to present banal or everyday things uncannily. In so doing, he is able to view human identity askance, too, seeing the individual as a creature less social than carnal.

Here, meal-times, specifically the accoutrements that make them provide a particular example that warrants further analysis. The three texts I present for discussion here all pivot, to some degree, on dining scenes: in The BFG, it is over breakfast with the Queen that an ethical giant saves mankind from his flesh-eating peers; in Pig, lunch at a greasy café leads a sheltered teenager into adulthood and his own destruction; and in Lamb to the Slaughter, a philanderer is killed with a leg of lamb in what turns out to have been a drawn-out preparation for dinner. With his distinct presentation of meal times as moments where lives are changed dramatically, Dahl presents the ritual of eating uncannily, contributing to a broader discussion surrounding individual identity within a ritualised world.

The themes of food and eating are obvious in Dahl’s prose, but he does not seem to have had an outright interest in cutlery. In fact, he barely mentions it – which is precisely why it is of interest here. A necessary element of most meals in the twentieth century, cutlery is rarely afforded much attention, but the casual ways in which Dahl writes of it are telling. They add up to build a nuanced understanding of what Dahl is saying about the pointless carnality of human life, and how he is saying it. Knives, forks, and spoons—seemingly innocuous and hardly considered—point and cut at our social pretences because they are the tools with which we approach our repetitive everyday rituals. As Tim Dant explains in Materiality and Society:11

The teaching of table manners and the acquisition and maintenance of cutlery are things undertaken usually within the household but both are connected through our broader social contacts to sensibilities of distinction and stratification. Experiences outside the home, at school, at the homes of others, in public restaurants and cafés, will alter and amend our behaviour and attitudes.

It is not only the social that cutlery affects, however. In recent years, multiple experiments have linked the size, weight, or colour of cutlery to the taste of food; its “deliciousness”.12There is, perhaps, a level of association at work here— a white spoon could make a yoghurt taste better because it looks purer and more like the popular conception of what a yoghurt should be—but there are also overtones of class prejudice that have entered our collective consciousness. Lightweight cutlery, and too-heavy cutlery are, as Nancy Mitford would remind us, strictly "non-U".13 New cutlery, or consciousness of it, will, on some level, alter the act of eating, instilling in the subject an awareness of self in relation to what is being eaten and in what context.

“Gaudy Excesses”

Dahl spent his early years in rural Wales, after which he saw a lot more of the world. As a spy and a member of the armed forces, he slept with a lot of women and ate a lot of meals in several countries. His anecdotes and memoirs, when not centred around military life, explored the bodily pleasures and social strangenesses of dining. As a spy in the 1940s, he became particularly fond of one older woman who was besotted with him. The widow of a gold magnate, Mrs McLean struck him as a “fabulous and rather tipsy dame”, and he likened her house to a circus that offered free meals.14 At these meals, he was particularly struck by the strangeness of the cutlery, writing home to his mother (and later regaling other family members) with stories of the clunking, blunt gold implements which matched the candelabra but were totally useless for eating.15 On one occasion,

bending his knife “almost double” while attempting to cut a piece of steak, Roald shocked his fellow guests by asking for a steel replacement, then surreptitiously trying to take the gold one home with him as a souvenir.

It was, of course, a social faux pas, but probably because of his sex appeal the young Dahl could get away with it: he was invited back.16 Dahl’s reaction to the ludicrous cutlery defamiliarises the pretensiousness of using golden atrocities that are not fit for purpose; of indicating success in life by making the common ritual of dinner less straightforward.

That Dahl wrote home about the cutlery, and remembered it to his family, can be read in line with Freud’s uncanny. The unfamiliar aspect of his home away from home struck Dhal in such a way that he wanted to transport it back where he came from returning the “unhomely” and unfamiliar to his “home”. As Dant notes, “[u]sing cutlery that is differently shaped or weighted from that which is familiar will remind us that we are not at home”.17 Dahl was fascinated by this panoply of what one biographer calls “gaudy excesses” and wanted to own a piece of it.18 This can be read to indicate a mindset that seeks neither to adapt to new ways of thinking nor to escape the unorthodox, but to observe and collect novelty. Evidently, Dahl liked being immersed in grotesque and unusual variations on learned behaviour, without and within familiar environments.

Despite the huge emphasis on food and eating in Roald Dahl’s fiction — from sweets that turn children into mice, a dramatic form of adolescence, in The Witches, to the magic concoctions of George’s Marvellous Medicine — cutlery is more likely to appear in his cook books. In these, of course, it is strictly functional (“take a spoon…”). But when cutlery does appear in his fiction, it gives the implied reader pause for thought, just as Mrs McLean’s grotesque golden silverware made an impression on the author.

Sword, Spade, Garden Fork

An example of cutlery presented askance can be found in Dahl’s popular children’s novel, The BFG (1982), written in Dahl’s final decade and at the height of his success. One section in particular stands out because it features an arbitrarily real person: the Queen of Great Britain. I say “arbitrarily” because the Queen has no discernible personality. What little is known of her character is cherry-picked from quotations and hearsay, always serving the agenda of whoever is commentating. Dahl’s version of the Queen is a good-spirited, open-minded lady who happens to run the country. In the novel, a small girl named Sophie has befriended a Big Friendly Giant (BFG) who, unlike his fellow giants, does not eat people, and who wishes, with Sophie’s help, to thwart his peers’ plans to gobble up humanity. Together, they visit the Queen in Buckingham Palace, and she agrees to hear them out after breakfast.

Breakfast is to be served in the Ball Room, which has the highest ceiling, and “a frantic scurry among the Palace servants” ensues.19 The Queen’s butler makes a string of calculations for how to accommodate the giant, which boils down to multiplying everything by four: this section is designed to teach children arithmetic. As well as ordering quadruple amounts of food, he asks for “four large grandfather clocks” and a ping-pong table top upon which the meal will be served.20 Then his mind turns to cutlery:21

Knives and forks and spoons,” Mr Tibbs was heard to mutter. “Our cutlery will be like little pins in his hands. […] Tell the head gardener […] that I require immediately a brand new unused garden fork and also a spade. And for a knife we shall use the great sword hanging on the wall in the morning-room. But clean the sword well first. It was last used to cut off the head of King Charles the First and there may still be a little dried blood on the blade

When cutlery is prepared for the BFG it is revealed to be two things: acquired rather than natural, and inherently violent. The sword serves for the knife; a sword that has been decorative since its last use but which is finally being put to work. Certainly, here Dahl is teaching his readers basic history, but there is also something subtler going on. The blood may need to be cleaned off: not only has this weapon been turned into a decoration, sanitising the cut-throat nature of the monarchy in the name of continuity and tradition, but nobody is quite sure if the blood remains. In hundreds of years, it has not been examined. By placing the sword on the makeshift dining table, the monarchy is forced to confront the genteel “ideal family” branding established by King George III’s advisors and refined by George V in the build-up to the First World War. The new pitchfork will never be used for gardening; it has a more social function now. But all of this layout is imitative. The staff at Buckingham Palace are simply adapting a ritual as best they can. The process of adaption provides for an uncanny experience, which Freud theorised as something familiar but strange, in plain sight and providing access to our deepest, undiscussed personal truths. In the flurry of activity, nobody has asked the BFG if he uses cutlery, or even knows what it is, but the fact that inadequate substitutes must be found suggests that he and his society are not readily accommodated by the rigmarole.

Amazingly, the BFG is not surprised by the cutlery—perhaps because in Dahl’s world and the world of his readers, cutlery is just part of life—but also, of course, because the readers too are learning how meals work. Although he is suitably overwhelmed by eggs and bacon replacing the snozzcumbers he is used to eating, the giant quickly adapts to the new circumstances. He knows instinctively to sit at the table and to use cutlery, and is soon asking for seconds. However, he shovels all of his food onto the spade and the more pointed implements are never used to stab or cut. On one level, the giant resists the violent elements of the world in which he is a visitor just as he resisted eating humans in the land of his birth. On another, his mind and body are uncannily disassociated: the outer body, already socialised, adapts without instruction to the customs of the breakfast table, while internally the BFG is not satisfied with a proportional amplification. His body has not calculated that he will need just four times as much food as a six-foot man.

Read as uncanny, the cutlery indicates that even the basics of mealtime are only given their relevance by virtue of their repeated use. The uncanny doubles of familiar forms from unlikely objects introduces Dahl’s readers, at a young age, to a world that runs on repetition; that is dependently invested in structure. Simultaneously, we learn that tailoring cutlery to the individual is not feasible, since cutlery is part of the socialisation that creates an individual in a given context. The BFG speaks in a kind of developing English, mixing up words and syntax -22

I cannot be right all the time. Quite often I is left instead of right

- and only at the end of the book do we learn that he now speaks flawless English and has in fact authored the narrative. The BFG is already out of place in Giant Country, and in this, his first social meal, solutions to bring him into line with the readers’ world do not immediately work out. However, as it is repeated day-by-day, the giant will become a habilitated member of the royal household.

Within the passage, everything is being repurposed, from the grandfather clocks that now serve as table legs to the chandelier, a symbol of status, lying in shards because the BFG smashed into it upon entering the room. The presence of the Queen exacerbates this sense of big social re-evaluation. As the monarch she and her household form the summit of her subjects’ aspirations, and Sophie has already been struck by the uncanny sensation of meeting in-the-flesh a person who had previously existed as a face on stamps and a voice on the television at Christmas. Dahl, then, uses cutlery as part of a sketch of western
society at its most aimless. Buckingham Palace, where everything exists
in luxury form, becomes a site of rapid defamiliarisation as the unconventional monster complicates our fundamental understanding of what things should be.

“A Brand-New Flavour”

There is a strand of thought in literary criticism that the uncanny has a valuable place in children’s fiction. As Judith Robertson writes, an uncanny moment allows the child to register and legitimise their fantasy of “returning to a place of origin”, but safely in the fantastic world of fiction so that it is neither fully repressed nor “consciously endured”.23 In fiction written for young adults or general readers, the uncanny has a different effect and function: it is, to return to Freud, “terrifying”, since it destabilises established ways of thinking, if only for a moment.

Dahl’s adult fiction is more macabre than The BFG, although clearly written by the same man. Like the children’s fiction, the stories for adults always feature at least one of the following: unhappy marriages, intense military friendships, and the act of eating. Food is everywhere in these stories, and like marriage and the military it is part of the structuring of social life.  Food only becomes a meal, though, when it is ritualised, within a proper setting and upon a properly set table.

The short story Pig, collected in Kiss Kiss (1959), features a seventeen year-old gourmet who has been raised vegetarian with no knowledge of meat-eating. When his guardian dies he travels out in the world to publish his cook-book and expand the cause of vegetarianism. However, as soon as he tastes pork he is amazed, and sets out to discover how it is made.  Ultimately, he is killed in an abattoir with the other pigs.

Like most of Dahl’s adult fiction, Pig has an American setting. Lexington, the protagonist, grows up away from society but ventures to make his name in New York. The sheltered adolescent first tastes meat in “a small restaurant” that “smell[s] of cooking fat and cabbage water” and only serves one dish, pork and cabbage.24 The boy has never heard of pork. He prepares for it with excitement in ritual:25

Lexington reached into his knapsack for his personal knife and fork. These were a present from Aunt Glosspan [the guardian], given him when he was six years old, made of solid silver, and he had never eaten with any other instruments since. While waiting for the food to arrive, he polished them lovingly with a piece of soft muslin.

The cutlery is incongruous in the low, greasy restaurant, and its solid silver nature suggests deep value in the ritual that Lexington has recognised despite his outsiderism. What he already knows about eating a meal makes him maladjusted to eating a meal in the wider world. In the preceding few paragraphs, he has been conned out of most of his half-million dollar inheritance by a greedy solicitor, leaving happily with fifteen thousand dollars from the petty cash box and giving $100 bills to anyone who will give him more information on how pork is made. Readying himself to eat the pork, Lexingon performs his ritual of polishing cutlery. The “piece of soft muslin”, put “lovingly” to work, represents the boy’s attempt to make heimlich (of home) his new insalubrious surroundings. He is trying to make the act of eating what it has been before; to take on board new experiences without confronting his own place in these new worlds.

When the meat arrives, the descriptive language gets instantly more violent. Lexington “seize[s] his knife and fork.”26 Then, we are told,

Lexington cut off a small piece of the meat, impaled it on his silver fork, and carried it up to his nose so as to smell it again. Then he popped it into his mouth and began to chew it slowly, his eyes half closed, his body tense. “This is fantastic!” he cried. “It is a brand-new flavour!

Before he has even registered animal flesh as a foodstuff—when the only novelty is novelty itself—the boy’s knife and fork have changed. They are no longer symbols of continuity, ornate and practical, but they are almost as bizarrely over ritualised as the gold cutlery Dahl tried to steal in real life. The familiar tools for eating have become instruments of savagery, the means by which Lexington finds cruelty within himself as food is suddenly cut and impaled, not picked and sprinkled as his herbs and berries had been. At this stage, the boy still assumes that pork is a vegetable, and the reader’s attention is on his dawning realisation that people can eat animals, not on his cutlery.

As soon as this unworldly protagonist learns that he is eating a pig, he sets out to an abattoir and watches the “fascinating process” on a guided tour.27 At the venue, he decides that he is a better cook now than Aunt Glosspan, whereupon he is hung upside down in chains, his throat is cut, and he slowly bleeds to death. His careful attempts to experience the broader world through the intentionally limited, learned rituals of childhood mean that he pursues his own destruction. The solid silver cutlery, incongruous in a café that only serves pork and cabbage, becomes what Freud would call “the uncanny harbinger of death”, bringing heim to a context where heim must be reformulated if the individual is to develop. “It is”, indeed, “a brand-new flavour”.

“Have Some More, Charlie”

Now we have collected two instances of cutlery indicating proving the strangeness of civility, the need for and impossibility of learning how to be a rounded person in a social setting. But the individual finding a place in an ill-structured world is not really Dahl’s concern. His children’s fiction in particular is full of lonely characters trying to fit in and ultimately deciding they would rather be a mouse or live in a heterotopic chocolate factory. Something runs beneath all of this which is much more explicit in the short stories made famous on television in Tales of the Unexpected (1979-1988). That is, civilisation does not exist. In all of Dahl’s stories, institutions exist without clear aims, or with aims and ends that seem to contradict their premise: like the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, which exists in The Witches to exterminate children. It is not cutlery but the absence of cutlery that helps Dahl convey this.

In perhaps his most famous short story, Lamb to the Slaughter (1953), Dahl takes on the American dream. He shatters the aspirational image of suburban marriage by presenting a dutiful housewife cook dinner for her husband at “a blissful time of day” before whacking him over the head with a frozen leg of lamb until he is dead.28 The police come and search for the weapon that the mysterious assassin must have used. Molly, the wife, offers them dinner while they search: a nice leg of lamb. The end of the story is worth quoting in full because of what it lacks:29

The woman stayed where she was, listening to them through the open door, and she could hear them speaking among themselves, their voices thick and sloppy because their mouths were full of meat. “Have some more, Charlie? […] She wants us to finish it. She said so. Be doing her a favour.” “Okay then. Give me some more.” “That’s a hell of a big club the guy must’ve used to hit poor Patrick,” one of them was saying. […I]t ought to be easy to find.” […] One of them belched. “Personally, I think it’s right here on the premises.” “Probably right under our very noses. What do you think, Jack?” And in the other room, Mary Maloney began to giggle.

There are no knives scraping on plates, there is no clink of fork on china. There are only bodily, fleshy noises, “a belch”, “a giggle”, and thick, meaty voices while the men discuss the evidence that is “right under [their] noses”, which they are helping to clear away.

In Freud’s articulation of the uncanny, the “need to repeat” is a key principle; this describes a mental compulsion to perform actions that have had traumatic or life-changing consequences over again, in an attempt to “return” to that unknown state of origin that so interested Freud.30 The bodily process of eating, without ornamentation, signifies an attempt to uphold the received and repetitive tradition that structures days around meals, in the face of violent death—on the other hand, it showcases the repetitive, violent essence of the individual within a society structured by law and order and suburban aspirations. Dahl’s failure to mention cutlery makes the meal, and the murder, overtly carnivorous. Humanity remains crude and savage in the well-tended suburbs where a well-tended wife serves a traditional cooked meal. The evidence is, indeed, “right under (the police officers’) noses”, but they are destroying it—and not through social ritual but through basic human greed. Everything has been prepared in the most approved suburban manner, but none of that is important. What is important, both in the world of the story and in terms of the plot, is the “thick and sloppy” destruction of flesh.

More disarmingly than in The BFG, here Dahl illustrates a civilisation that is doing nothing. The absence of cutlery in the text is uncanny; it creates an experience that is very familiar but incongruous in the ultra-ritualised modernity of suburban married life. A meal becomes an act of sensual, bodily destruction. Like the palace staff in The BFG and the ingenuous vegetarian in Pig, the police are desperate to bring learned, stylised order to disorder. This means a return to disorder, which is in each case essential carnality. When there is no knife to cut and no fork to stab, then sanitising these instincts has no point.


As well as prose, Dahl wrote poetry for children. Many of his poems follow similar lines: an animal lives happily with humans, realises that they only want him for decoration or dinner, and kills or eats them before they can get to him. One such poem, The Pig (1983), features an “unusually clever pig” who suddenly discovers that he exists to be turned into meat:

They want my bacon slice by slice

To sell at a tremendous price!

They want my tender juicy chops

To put in all the butcher’s shops!

[…] The butcher’s shop! The carving knife!

That is the reason for my life!31

Naturally, he attacks the first farmer he sees and has a good supper. The realisation that he will be sliced and chopped is what makes the pig aware of not only his futile existence but also his role as a living commodity within capitalism. The two things that form “the reason for [his] life” are a “shop” and a “carving knife”. The world of animism has suddenly become the reader’s own world (presuming the reader’s world has bacon in it). Once he has realised his fate, and viewed the experience of commodified eating in terms of bloody destruction, the pig is able to turn the whole thing on its head and bring eating back to basics. Cutlery for him is not about sustaining life through repetition, since it represents his only permitted goal: death. There are no shops or knives mentioned in his radical untangling of the food chain: he kills and eats for pleasure and survival.

Roald Dahl does not make casual use of cutlery, the way most people do every day. When he writes about it, he is writing about simulacra, versions of cutlery that ill-suit their supposed function. In turn, this makes us as readers step back from the world in which we lay tables, and think of social rituals as strange and grotesque, not divorced from, but stylising, our own savage impulses. Acts of eating are visceral and bodily; cutlery is what we use to make these moments public and social. But if we learn the ritual wrong, or unlearn it, or rethink its significance, we are confronted with the messy carnality of being alive.

End Notes

Go to footnote reference 1.

Roald Dahl, ‘The Umbrella Man’ in The Great Automatic Grammatizator. London: Puffin, 2001, pp. 110-109 (p. 109).

Go to footnote reference 2.

Roald Dahl, James and the Giant Peach. London: Alfred A. Knopf, 1961 and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. London: Alfred A. Knopf, 1964.

Go to footnote reference 3.

Roald Dahl and Felicity Dahl, Memories with Food at Gypsy House. London: Viking Random House, 1991; Felicity Dahl et al, Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes. London: Red Fox, 1994; Roald Dahl’s Even More Revolting Recipes. London: Red Fox, 2001.

Go to footnote reference 4.

Sigmund Freud, ‘The Uncanny’, trans. Alix Strachey, in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XVII (1917-1919): An Infantile Neurosis and Other Works, trans. James Strachey et al. London: The Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1955, pp. 219-252 (p. 219).

Go to footnote reference 5.

Ibid, p. 223.

Go to footnote reference 6.

Ibid, p. 249.

Go to footnote reference 7.

Ibid, p. 233.

Go to footnote reference 8.

Freud links this with childhood complexes, such as the castration complex, and the “inner ‘compulsion to repeat’,” which he considers largely subconscious in adults outside uncanny moments (ibid, p. 238).

Go to footnote reference 9.

Ibid, p. 251.

Go to footnote reference 10.


Go to footnote reference 12.

Vanessa Harrar and Charles Spence, ‘The Taste of Cutlery: How the Taste of Food is Affected by the Weight, Size, Shape, and Colour of the Cutlery Used to Eat It’, Flavour, vol. 2, no. 21, 2012.

Go to footnote reference 13.

"Non-U" words and habits are those designed to look impressive or imply elitism, but which are so pretentious, euphemistic, or impractical that they betray their aspirational status. See Nancy Mitford ed. Noblesse Oblige: An Enquiry Into the Identifiable Characteristics of the English Aristocracy. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1956.

Go to footnote reference 14.

Donald Sturrock, Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2010, p. 231.

Go to footnote reference 15.


Go to footnote reference 16.


Go to footnote reference 17.

Dant, Materiality and Society, p. 137.

Go to footnote reference 18.

Jennet Conant, The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008, p. 238.

Go to footnote reference 19.

Roald Dahl, The BFG. London: Puffin, 1984, p. 162.

Go to footnote reference 20.

Ibid, p. 163.

Go to footnote reference 21.

Ibid, p. 164-5.

Go to footnote reference 22.

Ibid, p.34.

Go to footnote reference 23.

Judith P. Robertson, ‘What Happens to Our Wishes: Magical Thinking in Harry Potter’, Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, vol. 26, no. 4, 2001, pp. 198-211 (p.203).

Go to footnote reference 24.

Roald Dahl, ‘Pig' in Kiss Kiss, London: New York: Penguin, 1962, pp. 183-203 (p.196).

Go to footnote reference 28.

Roald Dahl, ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ in Someone Like You. London, New York: Penguin, 1970), pp. 24-34 (pp. 24, 27).

Go to footnote reference 29.

Ibid, pp.33-4.

Go to footnote reference 30.

Freud, ‘The Uncanny’, p. 246.

Go to footnote reference 31.

Roald Dahl, ‘The Pig’ in Dirty Beasts. London: Jonathan Cape, 2012, pp. 9-14, (p. 11).


Conant, Jennet, The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008.

Dahl, Felicity, et al, Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes. London: Red Fox, 1994.

Dahl, Felicity, et al, Roald Dahl’s Even More Revolting Recipes. London: Red Fox, 2001.

Dahl, Roald, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. London: Alfred A. Knopf, 1964.

Dahl, Roald, James and the Giant Peach. London: Alfred A. Knopf, 1961.

Dahl, Roald, ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ (1953) in Someone Like You. London, New York: Penguin, 1970), pp. 24-34.

Dahl, Roald, ‘Pig’ (1959) in Kiss Kiss. London: New York: Penguin, 1962, pp. 183-203.

Dahl, Roald, The BFG (1982). London: Puffin, 1984.

Dahl, Roald, ‘The Pig’ (1984) in Dirty Beasts. London: Jonathan Cape, 2012, pp. 9-14.

Dahl, Roald, ‘The Umbrella Man’ (1998) in The Great Automatic Grammatizator. London: Puffin, 2001, pp. 110-109.

Dahl, Roald and Dahl, Felicity, Memories with Food at Gypsy House. London: Viking Random House, 1991.

Dant, Tim, Materiality and Society. Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2004.

Freud, Sigmund, ‘The Uncanny’ (1919), translated by Alix Strachey, in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XVII (1917-1919): An Infantile Neurosis and Other Works, translated by James Strachey et al. London: The Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1955, pp. 219-252

Harrar, Vanessa & Spence, Charles, ‘The Taste of Cutlery: How the Taste of Food is Affected by the Weight, Size, Shape, and Colour of the Cutlery Used to Eat It’, Flavour, vol. 2, no. 21, 2012. [Online] accessed 10 Sept. 2015

Michel, Charles; Velasco, Carlos & Spence, Charles, ‘Cutlery Matters: Heavy Cutlery Enhances Diners’ Enjoyment of the Food Served in a Realistic Dining Environment’, Flavour, vol. 4, no. 26, 2015. [Online] accessed 10 Sept. 2015

Mitford, Nancy edited, Noblesse Oblige: An Enquiry Into the Identifiable Characteristics of the English Aristocracy. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1956.

Robertson, Judith P, ‘What Happens to Our Wishes: Magical Thinking in Harry Potter’, Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, vol. 26, no. 4, 2001, pp. 198-211.

Sturrock, Donald, Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2010.

J.C. Bernthal

Dr Jamie Bernthal is a private researcher for the crime writer Sophie Hannah. He gained his AHRC-funded PhD in queer theory and genre fiction from the University of Exeter in 2015 and is the editor of The Ageless Agatha Christie (McFarland, 2016). Jamie has previously published on gender, genre, and signs in several books and journals and is working on a monograph, Queer Christie: Gender, Sexuality, Identity.