Mr. Botibol is a short story by Roald Dahl, first collected in 1980 in the short story collection More Tales of the Unexpected by Penguin. The story follows Mr. Botibol, a timid, middle-aged bachelor who feels he has achieved nothing in life. He constructs a small concert hall in his house where he conducts imaginary recitals to gramophone records. He also purchases a grand piano with keys that do not emit musical notes when struck, fantasising that he is a great musician-composer as he \"plays\" the instrument. In a music shop he meets Lucille Darlington, a fellow music-lover, who eventually accepts his invitation to play the role of pianist in one of his \"concerts\". Much to Botibol's surprise, Lucille then reveals that she is a piano teacher.
The story explores themes of loneliness, fantasy, deception and music. It also shows Dahl's characteristic dark humour and surprise ending. The story has been adapted for television's Tales of the Unexpected, starring Jack Weston as Mr. Botibol, and for an independent short film by Paisley Films in 2013.
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Mr. Botibol is one of Dahl's most eccentric and pitiful characters. He lives in a large and lonely house, surrounded by his collection of records and books. He has no friends or family, and his only source of joy is his imaginary concerts, where he pretends to be a famous conductor and composer. He is so immersed in his fantasy world that he does not care about the real world or his own business. He even sells his company for a low price, without bothering to negotiate or consult anyone.
Lucille Darlington is the only person who shows some interest in Mr. Botibol's life. She is a young and attractive woman who works as a piano teacher. She meets Mr. Botibol in a music shop, where he buys a record of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. She is impressed by his knowledge of music and his enthusiasm for the symphony. She agrees to visit his house and play the piano for him, unaware of his secret plan to stage a fake concert.
The climax of the story occurs when Mr. Botibol invites Lucille to his concert hall and asks her to play the piano along with the record. He tells her that the piano is specially designed to produce no sound, so that only he can hear it in his head. He also tells her that he has composed a new symphony, which he will conduct with a baton. He hopes that Lucille will be impressed by his musical genius and fall in love with him. However, things go wrong when Lucille reveals that she is a piano teacher and that she can tell that the piano is not working. She also says that she knows that Mr. Botibol did not compose the symphony, but copied it from Beethoven. She accuses him of being a liar and a fraud, and leaves him in anger and disgust.
The story ends with Mr. Botibol alone in his concert hall, broken-hearted and humiliated. He decides to play the record again and conduct it with his baton, hoping to recapture his fantasy. However, he realizes that he has lost his ability to imagine the music in his head. He hears nothing but silence. aa16f39245