This year I’m blogging once a month about finishing reading everything Roald Dahl wrote. Full disclosure: I’m not a Dahl scholar, just a humble fan of his work. This is a lay endeavor, perhaps not even all that fascinating to others. We’ll see. By the end, I hope to be able to say “I’ve read everything written by Roald Dahl!” or at least “I’ve read everything Roald Dahl wrote save for that one play I can’t seem to find a script for.” Something like that.
The Vicar of Nibbleswicke
The Vicar of Nibbleswicke is one of the last stories Dahl wrote, and was published posthumously along with The Minpins and a few other odds and ends. It’s a slender volume - shorter than even The Twits. The plot revolves around a “charming and God-fearing” vicar, Reverend Lee, who is affected by a rare form of dyslexia which causes problems for him when he becomes the (title!) vicar of Nibbleswicke. The thing is, Lee’s dyslexia takes the form of his saying backwards the “most significant” word in his sentences. But in typically Dahl-ish fashion, it’s not always the most significant word; it is often any word that, when spelled backwards, is amusing or rude. So he tells his parishioners not to “krap” on the church lawn. The scandal! Also he tells some lady not to gulp the communion wine, but to “pis” it gently. Hilarity ensues until he figures out how to manage his dyslexia, whereupon order is restored.
Not much here to interrogate, or explore… it’s pretty straightforward. To me, what makes The Vicar of Nibbleswicke interesting is that Dahl wrote it specifically to benefit the Dyslexia Institute. According to the introduction by Quentin Blake, Dahl offered them all worldwide rights for the period of copyright, very generous indeed. And the Dyslexia Institute is actually a setting within The Vicar of Nibbleswicke, which I’m sure is cool for any dyslexic kids at the Institute reading it.