My Uncle Oswald
Now back in print along with Roald Dahl’s Switch Bitch, a surprisingly naughty and hilarious adult book by the beloved children’s author
Children and adults alike adore the dark humor that pervades such Roald Dahl classics as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Fantastic Mr. Fox. Yet the celebrated author sometimes followed his imagination down a much more risqué path.
Showcasing this lesser-known erotic side of Dahl's celebrated genius that would make even a fan of Fifty Shades of Grey blush, My Uncle Oswald is the unapologetically racy memoir of Oswald Hendryks Cornelius—bon vivant, collector of spiders, and undoubtedly the greatest fornicator of all time.
I am beginning, once again, to have an urge to salute my Uncle Oswald. I mean, of course, Oswald Hendryks Cornelius deceased, the connoisseur, the bon vivant, the collector of spiders, scorpions and walking-sticks, the lover of opera, the expert on Chinese porcelain, the seducer of women, and without much doubt the greatest fornicator of all time. Every other celebrated contender for that title is diminished to a point of ridicule when his record is compared with that of my Uncle Oswald. Especially poor old Casanova. He comes out of the contest looking like a man who was suffering from a severe malfunction of his sexual organ.
Fifteen years have passed since I released for publication in 1964 the ﬁrst small excerpt from Oswald’s diaries. I took trouble at the time to select something unlikely to give offence, and that particular episode concerned, if you remember, a harmless and rather frivolous description of coitus between my uncle and a certain female leper in the Sinai Desert.
So far so good. But I waited a full ten years more (1974) before risking the release of a second piece. And once again I was careful to choose something that was, at any rate by Oswald’s standards, as nearly as possible suitable for reading by the vicar to Sunday School in the village church. That one dealt with the discovery of a perfume so potent that any man who sniffed it upon a woman was unable to prevent himself from ravishing her on the spot.
No serious litigation resulted from the publication of this little bit of trivia. But there were plenty of repercussions of another kind. I found my mailbox suddenly clogged with letters from hundreds of female readers, all clamouring for a drop of Oswald’s magic perfume. Innumerable men also wrote to me with the same request, including a singularly unpleasant African dictator, a British left-wing Cabinet Minister and a Cardinal from the Holy See. A Saudi-Arabian prince offered me an enormous sum in Swiss currency, and a man in a dark suit from the American Central Intelligence Agency called on me one afternoon with a briefcase full of hundred-dollar bills. Oswald’s perfume, he told me, could be used to compromise just about every senior Russian statesman and diplomat in the world, and his people wanted to buy the formula.
Unfortunately, I had not one drop of the magic liquid to sell, so there the matter ended.
Today, ﬁve years after publication of that perfume story, I have decided to permit the public yet another glimpse into my uncle’s life. The section I have chosen comes from Volume XX, written in 1938, when Oswald was forty-three years old and in the prime of life. Many famous names are mentioned in this one, and there is obviously a grave risk that families and friends are going to take offence at some of the things Oswald has to say. I can only pray that those concerned will grant me indul- gence and will understand that my motives are pure. For this is a document of considerable scientiﬁc and historical importance. It would be a tragedy if it never saw the light of day.