Rebuttal to Ms. Clémentine Beauvais, author of “Child Giftedness as Class Weaponry: The Case of Roald Dahl’s Matilda”

First things first, I wish to thank Ms. Clémentine Beauvais for referencing a chapter that I wrote for Roald Dahl and Philosophy: A Little Nonsense Now and Then, published by Rowman and Littlefield (2014). My chapter is titled

Matilda and the Philosophy of Education, or What’s an Education For?

Ms. Beauvais’s journal article can be found at


Ms. Beauvais states in her journal article (p. 292):

…her influence on Matilda’s early education is somehow elided here. In criticism, too,Mrs. Phelps’s instrumental role in Matilda’s education has sometimes been downplayed. “When Matilda begins her journey of learning, she first goes to the public library on a daily basis and reads whatever books she decides to,” writes John V. Karavitis (100), forgetting that no book that falls into Matilda’s lap is of her own choosing.


Ms. Beauvais, I beg to differ with your assessment of my reading of Roald Dahl’s Matilda. If I may quote from that book (fair use, for commentary purposes only):

Matilda set out all by herself to walk to the public library in the village. When she arrived, she introduced herself to the librarian, Mrs Phelps. She asked if she might sit awhile and read a book. Mrs Phelps, slightly taken aback at the arrival of such a tiny girl unacccompanied by a parent, nevertheless told her she was very welcome.

“Where are the children’s books please?” Matilda asked.

“They’re over there on those lower shelves,” Mrs Phelps told her. “Would you like me to help you find a nice one with lots of pictures in it?”

“No, thank you,” Matilda said. “I’m sure I can manage.”

End of quote from Matilda.


So, as you can see, Matilda DID in fact have books fall into her lap “of her own choosing.”

Granted, after Matilda had finished reading all the books in the Children’s section, Mrs. Phelps did suggest various books for Matilda to begin reading. At first, it was Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, and then Mrs. Phelps offered “to choose another”. We are then treated to a list of famous, classical works.

However, to get back to Ms. Beauvais’s contention that I somehow “forgot” about Mrs.Phelps’s influence on Matilda, may I be so bold as to refer to my chapter in Roald Dahl and Philosophy? P. 94, first paragraph:

Matilda begins her journey outside her home by reading books from the public library. There, she is helped by Mrs. Phelps, the librarian. Once Matilda exhausts the books in the children’s section of the library, Mrs. Phelps introduces her to the works of authors like Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway, and William Faulkner.

Further on, p. 100, second full paragraph (which you quoted in your journal article):

When Matilda begins her journey of learning, she first goes to the public library on a daily basis and reads whatever books she decides to.

And this statement is absolutely correct.

Ms. Beauvais, thank you for referencing my chapter in Roald Dahl and Philosophy in your journal article. But, please, for future reference, make sure you read any of my writings correctly and in its entirety before quoting from it and commenting on it.




About johnvkaravitis

Senior Financial Analyst: Energy, Insurance, IT consulting, Pharmaceuticals, Publishing, Real Estate
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s