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My Uncle Oswald Paperback – May 1, 1990

89 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

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." Inspired by stories of 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, flimflamming 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.


"One of the most widely read and influential writers of our generation."
(The Times )

"Immense fun."
(Daily Telegraph )

"Raunchy exuberance and cheeky entertainment."
(Sunday Express )

"Deliciously silly."
(Observer )

"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."

(Vance Bourjaily )

"A festival of bad taste that is at heart so innocent that we soon forgive it and enjoy ourselves . . . thoroughly juvenile fun . . . I haven't had so much fun of this sort since my last all-night joke-telling session at summer camp."
(Christopher Lehman-Haupt ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (May 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140055770
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140055771
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,062,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Roald Dahl (1916-1990) was born in Llandaff, South Wales, and went to Repton School in England. His parents were Norwegian, so holidays were spent in Norway. As he explains in Boy, he turned down the idea of university in favor of a job that would take him to"a wonderful faraway place. In 1933 he joined the Shell Company, which sent him to Mombasa in East Africa. When World War II began in 1939 he became a fighter pilot and in 1942 was made assistant air attaché in Washington, where he started to write short stories. His first major success as a writer for children was in 1964. Thereafter his children's books brought him increasing popularity, and when he died children mourned the world over, particularly in Britain where he had lived for many years.The BFG is dedicated to the memory of Roald Dahls eldest daughter, Olivia, who died from measles when she was seven - the same age at which his sister had died (fron appendicitis) over forty years before. Quentin Blake, the first Children's Laureate of the United Kingdom, has illustrated most of Roald Dahl's children's books.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A. Whitney VINE VOICE on April 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
Roald Dahl is one of the most compelling yet unpretentious writers I have ever read. He is infinitely clever and can master children's books, short stories and erotic novellas. This book is a great example of how crafty he can be with adult subject matter. This is not a book for children, as it deals with sexual matters throughout.
"My Uncle Oswald" is a rollicking story of how a shrewd businessman made his fortune off of powerful men and their enflamed sexual desires. The female character of the beautiful Yasmin Howcomely is a great example of an intelligent and self-aware lady who uses her brains and looks to get somewhere. The book is pure comedy from beginning to end and highlights how Dahl can make any subject funny. If you have enjoyed his short stories, you'll enjoy this short book.
If you aren't prudish, love witty yet accessible writing and have a few spare hours on your hands, you'll love this book. It is short enough for a cross-country flight or a few nights pre-bedtime reading.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By hjonkers on February 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
Those who only knew Dahl as a writer of funny short stories and haunting children's books, should look here. This is one of his more lengthy stories, although it doesn't have much more than 200 pages. His witty and capricious style hasn't changed either: this is a book as funny as you'll seldom read them. It's not for the young ones though, chiefly because of its main subject: sex. It's not quite of the sort you meet in most books, though: the story is rather a caricature of all existing sexual paradigms. The story's main person, Oswald Cornelius (who is called `uncle' because the whole story is quoted from his `diaries' by a nephew), is, according to Dahl, "the greatest rogue, bounder, connoisseur, bon vivant and fornicator of all time". He seems to get every lady, not regarding age or whatever else, into bed with utmost ease. This gentleman comes across a lot of absolutely ridiculous adventures that are all described in this wicked book.

This story takes place around 1912, when Oswald is barely seventeen. In spite of his young age, he is already a great diplomat and communicator. When he hears about a mysterious African beetle that, when stamped to powder, highly increases a man's potency, he's the first to go on expedition to Africa and get hold of some of these beetles. He accomplishes his mission and gets back to Europe where he sells his `high-potency pills' at exorbitant prices to noble people from all over the world. But then he realizes there's much more (money) to get. Oswald then develops an ultimately ridiculous plan. Take a look at the cover if you're curious about it, I'd say. Anyway, to execute this plan he needs help. He picks out two people as his sidekicks: a chemist called A.R.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Mitton on December 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
After reading and rereading Dahl's `children's' stories (which I have always maintained are really stories for grown-ups) to my kids I found "My Uncle Oswald" one day and read it straight though. This is a fantastically entertaining book that rather surprised me in the same way that finding a "Mr. Roger's Teaches about Tantric Sex" book would.

The writing is quick paced and very readable and there's more than a little bit of social commentary underlying the plot. Like most of his books this one is fairly short with a good bit of sarcasm tossed in. And, like in most of his books, the grown-ups are still dolts and buffoons who only think they're in control.

A really good read - will keep you laughing for a long time.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Diane VonderHaar on March 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is the best novel I have ever read. I can't begin to express the genius of this book. Although it seems to be only a simple tale of fornication and insane money making schemes, it is definitely far more than that. This book touched me on a deeper level than anyone could imagine it would. Oswald's conversations with his father made me understand a great amount of the world. One theme brought back time and again by Oswald is the idea that most people take themselves, and the world, too seriously. This is one of the basic beliefs that I have held for many years. Oswald goes about his life with a vitality I could never have imagined. Even when he loses all his money, it only takes him a short time before he is in as high spirits as before. This book will make anyone laugh, a few times I could not stop laughing for half an hour about one part. The only possible fault in the book is it's length, but the greatness of what he did write makes up for that a hundred-fold.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Andrij W. Zip on July 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
Is this a "pantheon" work of literature? God, no. Is it shallow, politically incorrect and vulgar? Yes. Is it exuberantly written, laugh-out-loud funny and a pleasure to read? Absolutely. If you've enjoyed Roald Dahl's short stories, especially the Uncle Oswald stories, this is a must read. However, if you've never read Roald Dahl's "adult" fiction, you might be better off reading Kiss, Kiss, Switch Bitch, or Someone Like You before tackling this.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
When I read this book I...knew little about the act of procreation (besides what I had seen in pictures). Dahl exhibits here not a realistic, but an idealistic view of sexuality. Too often, sex is used to demean the woman and to obtain power. My Uncle Oswald makes a mockery of such values and shows what sex could be without the foolish inhibitions of society.
Oswald is a young man at the time of this tale, and is beginning to discover the pleasures that women can provide. What struck me about him was that although he had a rule never to sleep with a woman more than once, he was remarkably equalitarian in his relations with a partner. When he meets the beautiful Yasmin Howcomely, she becomes an equal partner in his ventures. They sleep together twice, but there are no regrets that the relationship does not continue. Oswald never "uses" a woman for pleasure, he merely enjoys the company they give, never forcing more than is desire by the woman.
This book may seem nothing more than a romp through a sexual, historical world filled with geniuses and ridiculous plot twists (it is set in the early 1900's). But looking closer, the reader will notice that it is a brilliant satire of views dearly held by the common man, everything from inherited traits to drug use. And all this is told by one of the most beloved children's writers of our century. Who would have guessed?
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