First published in 1979; republished by Penguin Books on August 28, 2012
Oswald Cornelius takes pride in telling us that he is the greatest Lothario of all time. Portions of his "diary" are finally being published by Oswald's nephew, who appears in My Uncle Oswald only long enough to introduce volume XX of Oswald's diary. Oswald made his first fortune at age 17 by selling an early version of Viagra to men and women, his second by creating a forerunner of the sperm bank. His plan for stocking the sperm bank is both cunning and wicked.
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.