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My Uncle Oswald Paperback – May 1, 1990
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Roald Dahl's first-ever novel presents the scurrilous memoirs of that delightful old reprobate from "Switch Bitch", Oswald Hendryks Cornelius - connoisseur, bon vivant, collector of spiders, scorpions, odd walking sticks, lover of opera, expert on Chinese porcelain, and without doubt the greatest fornicator of all time. In this delightful picaresque story, it is revealed how Uncle Oswald first achieved great wealth - all thanks to the Sundance blister beetle, which when ground to powder has the most electrifying aphrodisiac qualities. It is 1919 - armed with the powder and aided by the beautiful amoral Yasmin how comely, Oswald begins an audacious commercial enterprise which involves seducing the most famous men in Europe - from crowded heads to Bernard Shaw and Marcel Proust.
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As these delightful tales unfold, Oswald occasionally boasts of his sexual prowess. With rare exceptions, Oswald follows the self-made principle of "no-woman-more-than-once," a rule he commends "to all men of action who enjoy variety." More often, however, we follow the efforts of the woman he recruited to gather sperm (using a powerful aphrodisiac) from the kings, artists, writers, musicians, and scientists of Oswald's time, including (among many others) Einstein, Monet, Joyce, and Puccini. Unsurprisingly, Picasso proves to be a troublesome subject, but the episode involving Proust is the funniest.
Roald Dahl is acclaimed for his children's stories. Perhaps he found a need to balance his life by adding this decidedly adult novel (and two "Uncle Oswald" short stories that were published in Playboy and reprinted in Switch Bitch) to his oeuvre. Despite the subject matter, however, My Uncle Oswald is far from pornographic. The stories are ribald but restrained. Most of all, they are hilarious. My Uncle Oswald is a novel that deserves to be on any reader's shelf of comedy classics. If I could, I would give My Uncle Oswald 4 1/2 stars.
At 17, Oswald is too young to go to the university that has accepted him so he heads off to Paris to explore life.
The things he does and the people with whom he entwines is bordering on silly and I couldn't wait to read more.
This is the secret "adult" side of the author bordering on mild porn... Who knew it is the same writer of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!
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?