First edition cover
|Original title||THE BFG|
|Published||14 January 1982 Jonathan Cape (original)|
Penguin Books (current)
The BFG (short for The Big Friendly Giant) is a 1982 children's book written by British novelist Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake. It is an expansion of a short story from Dahl's 1975 book Danny, the Champion of the World. The book is dedicated to Dahl's late daughter, Olivia, who died of measles encephalitis at the age of seven in 1962. As of 2009, the novel has sold 37 million copies in UK editions alone, with more than 1 million copies sold around the world every year.
An animated adaptation was shown on television in 1989 with David Jason providing the voice of the BFG and Amanda Root as the voice of Sophie. It has also been adapted as a theatre performance. A theatrical Disney live-action adaptation directed by Steven Spielberg was released in 2016.
The start of the book begins with an eight-year-old orphan girl named Sophie lying in bed in an orphanage run by Mrs. Clonkers. She cannot sleep, and sees a strange sight in the street; a giant man, carrying a bag and an odd trumpet. He sees Sophie, who tries to hide in bed, but the giant picks her up through the window. Then he runs quickly to a large cave, which he enters.
When he sets Sophie down, she begins to plead for her life, believing that the giant will eat her. The giant laughs and explains that most giants do eat human beings (which he pronounces as "human beans"), and that the people's origins affect their taste. For example, people from Greece taste greasy while people from Panama taste of hats. The giant then says that he will not eat her as he is the Big Friendly Giant, or BFG for short.
The BFG explains that she must stay with him forever so that no one can know of his existence. He warns her of the dangers of leaving his cave as his nine neighbours are sure to eat her if they catch her. He also explains what he was doing with the trumpet and suitcase. He catches dreams, stores them in the cave, and then gives the good ones to children all around the world. He destroys the bad ones. The BFG then explains that he eats the only edible plant that will grow in the giants' homeland: snozzcumbers, which are disgusting striped cucumber-like vegetables with wart-like growths that taste like frog skins and rotten fish to Sophie and cockroaches and slime wanglers to the BFG.
Another giant called the Bloodbottler then storms in. Sophie hides in a snozzcumber and is nearly accidentally eaten by the Bloodbottler. Bloodbottler luckily spits her out and then leaves in disgust. When Sophie announces she is thirsty, the BFG treats her to a fizzy soda pop drink called "frobscottle" which causes noisy flatulence because of the bubbles sinking downwards, rather than floating upwards. The BFG calls this "Whizzpopping".
The next morning, the BFG takes Sophie to Dream Country to catch more dreams, but is tormented by the man-eating giants along the way, notably by their leader the Fleshlumpeater, the largest and most fearsome of the giants.
In Dream Country, the BFG demonstrates his dream-catching skills to Sophie; but the BFG mistakenly captures a nightmare and uses it to start a fight among the other giants when Fleshlumpeater has a nightmare about a giant killer named Jack.
Sophie later persuades him to approach the Queen of England about imprisoning the other giants. To this end, she uses her knowledge of London to navigate the BFG to Buckingham Palace and the BFG creates a nightmare for the Queen which describes the man-eating giants and leaves Sophie in the Queen's bedroom to confirm it. Because the dream included the knowledge of Sophie's presence, the Queen believes her and speaks with the BFG.
A fleet of helicopters then follows Sophie and the BFG to the giants' homeland where the giants are tied up as they sleep and the helicopters carry them back to London where they are imprisoned in a 500 feet (150 m) deep pit with sheer walls and a high safety fence. The BFG is lowered in to untie them. Untying Fleshlumpeater last, he explains why they are being imprisoned. Outraged, Fleshlumpeater roars that they will devour the BFG instead, but he is hoisted out to safety. The man-eating giants find themselves being only fed snozzcumbers. On one occasion though, there is an incident where three drunken men climb over the fence surrounding the pit, fall in, and are eaten by the giants. Meanwhile, the orphanage is closed down and sold to become a teacherage.
Afterwards, a huge castle is built as the BFG's new house, with a little cottage next door for Sophie. While they are living happily in England, gifts come from the governments of every country ever targeted by the giants (notably England, Sweden, Arabia, India, Panama, Tibet, Jersey, Chile, and New Zealand). After Sophie teaches the BFG how to read and proper English, he writes a book of their adventures identified as the novel itself—under the name "Roald Dahl".
- Sophie: The imaginative, creative and kind-hearted protagonist of the story who becomes a brave international heroine. Named after Dahl's first grandchild, Sophie Dahl . Voiced by Amanda Root in the 1989 film and portrayed by Ruby Barnhill in the 2016 film.
- The BFG: A friendly 24-foot-tall giant who has superhuman hearing and immense speed. His primary occupation is the collection and distribution of good dreams to children. He also appears in another novel, Danny, the Champion of the World, in which he is introduced as a folkloric character. His name is an initialism of 'Big Friendly Giant'. Voiced by David Jason in the 1989 film and motion-captured by Mark Rylance in the 2016 film.
- The Queen: The British monarch. Firm, bold, and ladylike, she plays an important role in helping Sophie and the BFG. Voiced by Angela Thorne in the 1989 film and portrayed by Penelope Wilton in the 2016 film.
- Mary: The Queen's maid. Voiced by Mollie Sugden in the 1989 film and portrayed by Rebecca Hall in the 2016 film.
- Mr. Tibbs: The Queen's butler. Voiced by Frank Thornton in the 1989 film and portrayed by Rafe Spall in the 2016 film.
- Mrs. Clonkers: The unseen director of the orphanage in which Sophie lives at the start of the novel; described as cruel to her charges. Voiced by Myfanwy Talog in the 1989 film and portrayed by Marilyn Norry in the 2016 film.
- The Heads of the Army and the Air Force: Two bombastic officers answering to the Queen. Voiced by Michael Knowles and Ballard Berkeley in the 1989 film and portrayed by Chris Shields and Matt Frewer in the 2016 film.
- Nine Man-Eating Giants: Each man-eating giant is about 50-feet-tall and proportionately broad and powerful and they only wear skirt-like coverings around their waists. According to the BFG, the flavours of the humans that the man-eating giants dine on depends on their country of origin: Turks taste like turkey, Greeks are too greasy (and hence apparently no giant ever visits that country), people from Panama taste like hats, the Welsh taste like fish, people from Jersey taste like cardigans, and the Danes taste like dogs.
- The Fleshlumpeater: The leader of the other eight man-eating giants and the largest and most horrible of the bunch. Voiced by Don Henderson in the 1989 film and motion-captured by Jemaine Clement in the 2016 film.
- The Bloodbottler: Second-in-command to the Fleshlumpeater and also the smartest of the bunch. He has a fondness for the taste of human blood. Voiced by Don Henderson in the 1989 film and motion-captured by Bill Hader in the 2016 film.
- The Manhugger: One of the nine man-eating giants. Motion-captured by Adam Godley in the 2016 film.
- The Meatdripper: One of the nine man-eating giants. He pretends to be a tree in a park so that he can pick off the humans that go under him. Motion-captured by Paul Moniz de Sa in the 2016 film.
- The Childchewer: One of the nine man-eating giants. Motion-captured by Jonathan Holmes in the 2016 film.
- The Butcher Boy: The youngest of the nine man-eating giants. Motion-captured by Michael Adamthwaite in the 2016 film.
- The Maidmasher: One of the nine man-eating giants. Motion-captured by Ólafur Darri Ólafsson in the 2016 film.
- The Bonecruncher: One of the nine man-eating giants who is known for crunching up two humans for dinner every night. He enjoys eating people from Turkey, making him the picky eater of the bunch. Although he will go to other countries such as joining the other eight in a trip to England. Motion-captured by Daniel Bacon in the 2016 film.
- The Gizzardgulper: The shortest of the nine man-eating giants. He often lies above the rooftops of the cities to grab people walking down the streets. Motion-captured by Chris Gibbs in the 2016 film.
References in other Roald Dahl books
The BFG first appears as a story told to Danny by his father in Danny, the Champion of the World. The ending is almost the same as James and the Giant Peach, when he writes a story about himself, by himself. Also, Mr. Tibbs relates to Mrs. Tibbs, the friend of Mr. Gilligrass, the U.S. president in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.
Awards and recognition
The BFG has won numerous awards including the 1985 Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis as the year's best children's book, in its German translation Sophiechen und der Riese and the 1991 Read Alone and Read Aloud BILBY Awards.
In 2012, it was ranked number 88 among all-time children's novels in a survey published by School Library Journal, a monthly with primarily U.S. audience. It was the fourth of four books by Dahl among the Top 100, more than any other writer.
- ISBN 0-224-02040-4 (hardcover, 1982)
- ISBN 0-374-30469-6 (hardcover, 1982)
- ISBN 0-590-06019-8 (paperback, 1982)
- ISBN 0-435-12279-7 (hardcover, 1984)
- ISBN 0-14-031597-7 (paperback, 1984)
- ISBN 0-14-034019-X (paperback, 1985)
- ISBN 1-85715-924-1 (hardcover, 1993)
- ISBN 0-679-42813-5 (hardcover, 1993)
- ISBN 0-14-130105-8 (paperback, 1998)
- ISBN 0-14-130283-6 (paperback, 1999)
- ISBN 0-14-131137-1 (paperback, 2001)
- ISBN 0-224-06452-5 (hardcover, 2002)
- ISBN 978-0-14-241038-7 / ISBN 0-14-241038-1 (paperback, 2007)
- ISBN 0-14-133216-6 (audio CD read by Natasha Richardson)
- ISBN 90-261-1275-0 (De GVR, Dutch, 1983)
- ISBN 0-14-130105-8 (The BFG, Spanish, 1984)
- ISBN 3-498-01250-9 (Sophiechen und der Riese, German, 1984)
- ISBN 2-07-051372-6 (Le bon gros géant, French, 1984)
- ISBN 4-566-01057-0 (オ・ヤサシ巨人BFG (O yasashi kyojin bīefujī, Japanese, 1985)
- ISBN 88-7782-004-7 (Il GGG, Italian, 1987)
- ISBN 0-624-03190-X (Die GSR: die groot sagmoedige reus, Afrikaans, 1993)
- ISBN 89-527-0972-1 (내 친구 꼬마 거인 (Nae ch'in'gu kkoma kŏin), Korean, 1997)
- ISBN 99927-33-02-0 (Gjiganti i madh i mirë, Albanian, 199-)
- ISBN 7-5332-3227-5 (好心眼儿巨人 (Hǎo xīnyǎn'ér Jùrén), Chinese, 2000)
- ISBN 1-904357-03-2 (Yr CMM: yr èc èm èm, Welsh, 2003)
- ISBN 973-576-573-X (Uriașul cel príetenos, Romanian, 2005)
- ISBN 83-240-3949-X (Wielkomilud, Polish, 2016)
- ISBN 978-9082197044 (De GFR, West Frisian, 2016)
Between 1986, and 1998, the novel was adapted into a newspaper comic by journalist Brian Lee and artist Bill Asprey. It was published in the Mail on Sunday and originally a straight adaptation, with scripts accepted by Roald Dahl himself. After a while the comic started following its own storylines and continued long after Dahl's death in 1990.
On 25 December 1989, ITV broadcast an animated film based on the book and produced by Cosgrove Hall Films on television, with David Jason providing the voice of the BFG and Amanda Root as the voice of Sophie. The film was dedicated to animator George Jackson who worked on numerous Cosgrove Hall productions.
A theatrical film adaptation was produced by Walt Disney Pictures, directed by Steven Spielberg, and starring Mark Rylance as the BFG, as well as, Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton, Jemaine Clement, Rebecca Hall, Rafe Spall, and Bill Hader. The film was released on 1 July 2016, to positive critical reception.
A TV series based on The BFG is being developed as part of Netflix's "animated series event", based on Roald Dahl's books.
- Singh, Anita (7 August 2010) "Roald Dahl's secret notebook reveals heartbreak over daughter's death". The Telegraph. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
- "Whizzpoppingly wonderful fun in Watford!". BBC. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
- "Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company presents The BFG". birmingham-rep.co.uk. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
- "Five things you never knew about the bfg". The Roald Dahl Story Company Limited. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
- "Sophiechen und der Riese" (in German). Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis. 1985. Archived from the original on 3 June 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
- "Previous Winners of the BILBY Awards: 1990 – 96" (PDF). The Children's Book Council of Australia Queensland Branch. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 November 2015. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
- "BBC – The Big Read". BBC. April 2003. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
- National Education Association (2007). "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". Retrieved 19 August 2012.
- Bird, Elizabeth (7 July 2012). "Top 100 Chapter Book Poll Results". A Fuse #8 Production. Blog. School Library Journal (blog.schoollibraryjournal.com). Retrieved 19 August 2012.
- Dahl, Roald (1983). De GVR (in Dutch). Translated by Huberte Vriesendorp. Utrecht: De Fontein. OCLC 276717619.
- Dahl, Roald (1984). The BFG. Barcelona: Planeta. OCLC 23998903.
- Dahl, Roald (1984). Sophiechen und der Riese (in German). Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt. OCLC 12736090.
- Dahl, Roald (1984). Le bon gros géant: le BGG (in French). Paris: Gallimard. OCLC 462016766.
- Dahl, Roald (1985). オ・ヤサシ巨人BFG (in Japanese). Translated by Taeko Nakamura. Tokyo: Hyoronsha. OCLC 674384354.
- Dahl, Roald (1987). Il GGG (in Italian). Firenze: Salani. OCLC 797126304.
- Dahl, Roald (1993). Die GSR: die groot sagmoedige reus (in Afrikaans). Translated by Mavis De Villiers. [Kaapstad]: Tafelberg. OCLC 85935030. Originally published by Jonathan Cape Ltd. as: The BFG
- Dahl, Roald (1997). 내 친구 꼬마 거인 (in Korean). Translated by Hye-yŏn Chi. Ch'op'an. OCLC 936576155.
- Dahl, Roald. Gjiganti i madh i mirë (in Albanian). Translated by Naum Prifti. Çabej: Tiranë. OCLC 472785476.
- Dahl, Roald (2000). 好心眼儿巨人 (in Chinese). Translated by Rong Rong Ren. Jinan: Ming tian Chu ban she.
- Dahl, Roald (2003). Yr CMM: yr èc èm èm (in Welsh). Hengoed: Rily. OCLC 55150213.
- Dahl, Roald (2005). Uriașul cel príetenos (in Romanian). Translated by Mădălina Monica Badea. Bucharest: RAO International. OCLC 63542578.
- Dahl, Roald (2016). BFG (in Polish). Translated by Katarzyna Szczepańska-Kowalczuk. Kraków: Społeczny Instytut Wydawniczy Znak. OCLC 956576565.
- Dahl, Roald (2016). De GFR (in Western Frisian). Translated by Martsje de Jong. Groningen: Utjouwerij Regaad. OCLC 1020314790.
- "Bill Asprey".
- "The BFG (Big Friendly Giant)". Samuel French. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
- Jo-Anne Rowney. "Netflix's new Roald Dahl animated series 'reimagines' Matilda and Willy Wonka". Mirror UK.