My Uncle Oswald
|Publisher||Michael Joseph (UK)|
|Media type||Print (hardback and paperback)|
|Pages||222 pp. (hardback edition) * 208 pp. (paperback edition)|
|ISBN||0-7181-1864-2 (hardback edition) & ISBN 0-14-005577-0 (paperback edition)|
My Uncle Oswald is an adult novel written by Roald Dahl.
The novel stars Uncle Oswald, a character who previously appeared in "The Visitor" and "Bitch", two short stories also written by Roald Dahl (and which can be both found in the book Switch Bitch). Dahl's novel was published in 1979.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (March 2012)
Oswald Hendryks Cornelius, an extremely attractive and wealthy bounder, was the greatest fornicator of his time. In this instalment of his scorchingly frank memoirs, Uncle Oswald recounts his discovery of the sexually invigorating properties of the Sudanese Blister Beetle, and his cunning plan to steal what men are most willing to give away and sell it to women who wish to have children 'fathered' by geniuses.
Inspired by the aphrodisiac powers of the Sudanese blister beetle, the palpable seductiveness of the lovely Yasmin Howcomely, and the scientific know-how of Professor A. R. Woresley, Uncle Oswald anticipates the concept of the Nobel sperm bank by some 40 years, flim-flamming crowned heads, great artists, and eccentric geniuses into making "donations." The life of a commercial sperm broker has a few surprises even for a sophisticated bon vivant, and Dahl manages his signature sting-in-the-tail ending even in one of his lightest comic works.
There were a few near-misses along the way--Einstein very nearly figured out what was happening--but only one real failure. Howcomely inadvertently eats the wrong chocolate she intended to serve King Haakon of Norway. She gets thrown out of the king's castle after she falls into a temporary state of nymphomania and tries to rape him.
Victims of Oswald's plot in order of appearance in the book:
- Alfonso XIII, King of Spain
- Pierre-Auguste Renoir, French painter
- Claude Monet, French painter
- Igor Stravinsky, Russian composer
- Pablo Picasso, Spanish painter. In fact, Uncle Oswald and his accomplice are unsuccessful here: Picasso pounces on the accomplice before she has a chance to use a condom to collect his semen.
- Henri Matisse, French artist
- Marcel Proust, French novelist
- Vaslav Nijinsky, Polish-born Russian ballet dancer and choreographer
- James Joyce, expatriate Irish writer and poet
- Giacomo Puccini, Italian operatic composer
- Sergei Rachmaninoff, Russian composer, conductor and pianist
- Sigmund Freud, Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis
- Albert Einstein, German-born theoretical physicist
- Thomas Mann, German novelist
- Joseph Conrad, Polish-born British novelist
- H. G. Wells, British writer
- Rudyard Kipling, Indian-born British author and poet
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, British writer and creator of Sherlock Holmes
- George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright
- The King of Belgium
- The King of Italy
- Peter I of Serbia, King of Yugoslavia
- The King of Greece
- Boris III of Bulgaria, King of Bulgaria
- Ferdinand of Romania, King of Romania
- The King of Denmark
- The King of Sweden
Oswald Hendryks Cornelius: The nameless narrator has revealed snippets of the lovable, lascivious Uncle Oswald's life in other collections, but this is the only novel—brief though it is—dedicated solely to the diaries of "the greatest fornicator of all time."
What can be said is that "My Uncle Oswald" provides four or five hours of effortless reading and some amusing scenes, mostly of the kind film makers have taught us to call soft porn—so soft, indeed, that at times they turn out almost fluffy.
The tone is that of a gentleman telling ribald anecdotes to his male guests after dinner. The leer is civilized... the dialog gets mean and raunchy, but the physical detail is kept decorous.... Mr. Dahl's guests are not invited to vicarious orgy, then, nor will they hear a disguised lecture by a wicked satirist of morals and manners.... Summer reading.
Christopher Lehmann-Haupt called it "a festival of bad taste that is at heart so innocent that we soon forgive it and enjoy ourselves," "thoroughly juvenile fun," and said "I haven't had so much fun of this sort since my last all-night joke-telling session at summer camp."
- Bourjaily, Vance (1980), "Civilized Ribaldry," The New York Times, 20 April 1980, p. BR4
- Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher (1980), "Books of the Times," The New York Times, 29 April 1980, p. C9