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Willy Wonka

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A World of Pure Imagination | Roald Dahl 100

A World of Pure Imagination

By Gareth Jones – eCommerce Analyst

I can still remember clearly the sense of possibility I felt when Gene Wilder looked at me and asked me to come with him, to follow his lead, in to a world of pure imagination. The song, based on the poem by Roald Dahl, encapsulates what made Dahl’s writing, his genius, truly special, and so valuable to children, and to me. It speaks of a world where anything is possible, where you’re free to be who you are and achieve whatever it is you want:

“Anything you want to, do it
Want to change the world, there’s nothing to it”

I was a huge Roald Dahl fan as a kid, and still am. Whilst “Pure Imagination” spells it out, for me it was the sheer creative brilliance, the boundless detail of his imagination, and the humanity with which he realised his vision, via humour and relatable characters, that really conveyed a world where magic was a matter of fact. Where anything was possible. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a book filled with wonders, from the Oompa Loompas to the Great Glass Elevator. A river of chocolate! Fizzy lifting drink! Chocolate via TV! All enabled by none other than Willy Wonka, who I can only see as the author’s surrogate- leading you, the reader, through his magical, marvelous, chocolate factory.

His other books achieved the same thing for me: The Witches, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda and, of course, Fantastic Mr Fox. They all share the themes of capturing the reader with a comical, down to earth tone, a relatable main character and then, of course, a truly magical, marvelous journey (not to mention getting one up on mean adults!). His books are filled with fantastical devices: witches with no toes, a fox with unsurpassed cunning or a lift that can go anywhere in space! All of this goes alongside his great characterisation that has created some truly hateable adversaries. Ms Trunchable, the Twits, the Witches, the Knids. His great skill at describing (in almost nonsensical adjectives) such original creations, made them seem so real, and in so doing, made the unbelievable seem entirely achieveable.

“There is no life I know
To compare with pure imagination
Living there, you’ll be free
If you truly wish to be”

In loving memory of Gene Wilder (June 11, 1933 – August 29, 2016)