If you want to view paradise,
Simply look around and view it.
Anything you want to – do it.
Want to change the world? There’s nothing to it.
Last week my sister and I went to see Sam Mendes’ Charlie and the Chocolate Factory musical and it completely reignited my love for all things Wonkalicious! So, as this year marks the half-century of Charlie’s chocolate adventure and as today is officially Roald Dahl day, I have chosen to write this post in celebration of this most deliciously Dahlian novel.
Strangely enough, both of my childhood Charlie books are completely free from the iconic Blake illustrations of today and are instead peppered with stylings from the equally lovely Michael Foreman:
These were the books that opened the gates to one of the world’s most famous chocolate factories and introduced me to the strangest and most fantastical chocolatier the world has ever seen – the one and only Mr Willy Wonka!
It had huge iron gates leading into it, and a high wall surrounding it, and smoke belching from its chimneys, and strange whizzing sounds coming from deep inside it. And outside the walls, for half a mile around in every direction, the air was scented with the heavy rich smell of melting chocolate!
For me, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has always been a book about dreaming, the power of imagination and living life slightly on the edge of bonkers! To reread the story as an adult, it stirs up that long-lost, magical feeling that anything is possible if you want it and chase it hard enough. It’s a outlook rooted in childhood that seemingly gets lost in the logic and sensibility of maturity but the fact that Charlie is able to reignite that long-lost spark in every reader, even for a second, highlights the pure magic of Dahl.
We are the music makers and we are the dreamer of dreams – Willy Wonka
Despite being the titular character, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has never been about Charlie Bucket. It is all about the confectionery magician Willy Wonka – the maker and dreamer of dreams who doesn’t conform to expectation and who enjoys playing with words and the world. With square sweets that look round, three-course-meal gum and hot ice cream for cold days, Dahl’s Wonka breathes life into even the most unfathomable of ideas and does nothing but instill that energy into his audience, fictional or otherwise.
Whipped cream isn’t whipped cream at all if it hasn’t been whipped with whips. Just as a poached egg isn’t a poached egg unless it’s been stolen in the dead of night! – Willy Wonka
The less said about the confused sequel that is Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator the better so I shall keep schtum on that count and choose instead, on this day of Dahl, to promote the reading (or re-reading) of this fifty-year old masterpiece. Celebrate and revel in the amazing world that opens up when the pages and gates of Wonka’s factory are unlocked to you lucky few and delight in a novel that truly is perfection in confection.
A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men – Willy Wonka