How Roald Dahl Came Up With the Nonsense Words in The BFG

Roald Dahl's first wife, Patricia Neal, seen here wearing an eyepatch in the aftermath of a stroke, was the inspiration behind the language in The BFG.
Roald Dahl's first wife, Patricia Neal, seen here wearing an eyepatch in the aftermath of a stroke, was the inspiration behind the language in The BFG.
Keystone / Getty Images

Fans of Roald Dahl’s 1982 children’s book The BFG know that the whimsical work is dedicated to Dahl’s daughter, Olivia, who died from measles encephalitis when she was seven years old. However, New York Magazine’s Melissa Dahl writes that the cheerful tale was also inspired by another somber story: Dahl’s first wife’s battle to speak after she suffered a series of strokes.

In a 2015 issue of The Lancet Neurology, writer Peter Ranscombe details a speech given by neurologist Tom Solomon, who serves as director of the Institute of Infection and Global Health at the University of Liverpool. At the Edinburgh International Science Festival, Solomon described how Dahl’s first wife, Patricia Neal, had a hard time conjuring words after the strokes damaged her parietal lobe—the part of the brain that interprets letters and words, among other functions.

Because of this, she’d often ended up saying meaningless phrases, like “porteedo” instead of “torpedo” or “muggled” instead of “confused. And Dahl included some of these neologisms into The BFG, peppering the work with lighthearted nonsense words that had much more serious origins than his delighted readers ever realized.

[h/t New York Magazine]

The Top 25 Bestselling E-Books on Amazon Right Now

Is she reading Harry Potter for the 15th time?
Is she reading Harry Potter for the 15th time?
grinvalds/iStock via Getty Images

Right now, the ability to access books on your tablet or phone—without leaving your house or waiting days for an order to arrive in the mail—seems more magical than ever. With just about every book at your fingertips, however, it might be a little difficult to decide which one to choose.

You could ask for recommendations from friends and family, or use this website, which specializes in personalized reading lists based on books you’ve already read and loved. Or you could check out Amazon’s current list of bestselling e-books—updated by the hour—to see what the general population just can’t get enough of. As of this morning (March 31), Elle Marr’s highly anticipated thriller The Missing Sister sits in the number one spot; since its publication date isn’t until April 1, that means it’s gotten to the top of the list on pre-orders alone.

There are several other riveting thrillers on the list, including Dean Koontz’s latest, In the Heart of the Fire, and Christopher Greyson’s murder mystery The Girl Who Lived. Plenty of other genres are well-represented, too, from Stephen R. Covey’s classic self-help book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to Jory John’s charming children’s story The Bad Seed.

And, of course, it would hardly seem like a bestseller list if Harry Potter didn’t make an appearance or two. According to this data, more than a few people are spending their quarantine time reading (or re-reading) J.K. Rowling’s beloved series—Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets are at number seven and number 17, respectively.

Look through March 31’s top 25 below:

  1. The Missing Sister by Elle Marr // $5
  1. Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis // $13
  1. Wall of Silence by Tracy Buchanan // $5
  1. The Bad Seed by Jory John // $13
  1. The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms // $2
  1. Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah // $5
  1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling // $9
  1. The Last Bathing Beauty by Amy Sue Nathan // $5
  1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey // $6
  1. When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal // $5
  1. Rough Edge by Lauren Landish // $4
  1. The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy // $1
  1. If You Tell by Gregg Olsen // $2
  1. Now, Then, and Everywhen by Rysa Walker // $5
  1. The Girl Who Lived by Christopher Greyson // $10
  1. Rain Will Come by Thomas Holgate // $5
  1. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling // $9
  1. The Other Family by Loretta Nyhan // $5
  1. In the Heart of the Fire by Dean Koontz // $2
  1. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng // $10
  1. Pete the Cat and the Missing Cupcakes by James Dean // $8
  1. The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson // $15
  1. Unlimited Memory by Kevin Horsley // $10
  1. Lift Her Up by T.S. Joyce // $1
  1. In an Instant by Suzanne Redfearn // $5

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Dolly Parton Is Reading Books From Her Imagination Library to Kids Stuck Inside

Let Dolly Parton read you a bedtime story.
Let Dolly Parton read you a bedtime story.
Ian Gavan/Getty Images

Since 1995, Dolly Parton has donated more than 100 million books to kids through her Imagination Library program. Now, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, the country music star has found a way to bring the comfort of a good book to children stuck at home. As Nashville Scene reports, Parton will be reading bedtime stories across her social media platforms starting April 2.

Whether you have kids with extra energy from spending the day indoors or you're an adult who needs to relax at night, Parton can help. On Thursday at 7 p.m. EST, she'll stream her reading of The Little Engine That Could to her online followers. "Goodnight With Dolly" will continue every week at the same time for 10 weeks, with Parton reading a different book from her Imagination Library each time.

Parton founded the Imagination Library 25 years ago with the goal of promoting literacy in her home state of Tennessee. The organization mails free books to kids ages 0 through 5, and today it provides over 1 million books a month to young readers in the U.S., UK, Ireland, Australia, and Canada.

To catch Dolly's first bedtime story, tune into the Imagination Library's YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages Thursday night. For more ways to entertain yourself and your family at home, check out these classic board games you can play online.

[h/t Nashville Scene]

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