now my charms are all overthrown

or, Mr Pond in Print and other stories

My esteemed compatriots in the blogalectic, Jenna St Hilaire and Masha, have each written a striking and eloquent engagement with the other’s view on art and beauty and entertainment. I urge you to read both ‘By Any Other Name’ and ‘Words, words, words’. Shakespeare quotations seem to be in season this week, so I’ve adjusted my title accordingly.

And since their posts compliment each other so well, I’m taking the advantage to give you all a respite from my ideas concerning art and nonbeing, and to fill you in on several happenings.

If you ever wondered what fairy tale scholars do all day—well, I guess this won’t help you that much, but I’ve just had an article published at Enchanted Conversation. It’s called, fittingly enough, ‘Enchanted Conversations: The Reverse Adaptation of Fairy Tales in Online Culture’, and you can read it here. I originally presented it at the Never-Ending Stories children’s literature conference at Ghent University, and a heavily revised and expanded version of it is forthcoming next year in an academic anthology of the same name.

Not only that, but I’m delighted to tell you that Harry Potter for Nerds (Unlocking, 2011) is now available for purchase on (and, for my British readers). It looks like Travis Prinzi has pulled off yet another winner of an anthology. I’ve got a chapter in, called ‘“Just Behind the Veil”: Death in Harry Potter and the Fairy Tales of George MacDonald’. Do pop round to let me know what you think once you’ve read it.

And then, this:

Wolf had heard scary tales about this hill. Stories of blue elf-fires, burning at the mouths of long-abandoned mineshafts and tunnels. Stories of bogeymen and ghosts.

Up on the very top, he had heard there was a road. A road leading nowhere, a road no one used. For if anyone was so bold as to walk along it, especially at night, he’d hear the clamour of hounds and the blowing of horns, the cracking of whips and the rumbling of a cart. And out of the dark would burst the Devil’s own dog pack, dashing beside a black wagon drawn by goats with fiery eyes, crammed full of screaming souls bound for the pits of Hell…

That chilling passage comes from the critically-acclaimed Dark Angels [The Shadow Hunt] (HarperCollins, 2010) by Paradoxes friend and regular Katherine Langrish. She’s just released the book trailer, and rather than embed it here for your viewing pleasure, I’m going to send you all to go watch it at Katherine’s blog, Seven Miles of Steel Thistles. Because if you watch it over there, you might wind up winning three signed copies of the book.

Katherine writes breathtaking and eldritch stories might be impossible to describe without using Lovecraft, Wynne Jones, and Dahl as adjectives. Her deep knowledge of folkloric tradition and oral storytelling combines with historical accuracy to create a rich and enchanting read. Add to that characters that are deeply and sensitively drawn, and—why don’t we just plan a group outing to Waterstone’s or Borders right now and have done? If—as might be the case, airfare proves too expensive at short notice, then we can be comforted that these books are available on Amazon, too.

And now it’s a sunny day in Scotland, so I tarry here no longer. Whatever you read this weekend, read well.


3 thoughts on “now my charms are all overthrown

  1. My copy of Harry Potter for Nerds is on its way–I’m really looking forward to reading all of them, but especially your and Jenna’s essays!

    I just read your insightful essay “Enchanted Conversations” you linked to above, and am especially struck by this passage:

    “If there is a theme running through New Fairy Tales, it is that story has power to change the world, and especially that fairy tales can give wonder and hope and meaning even in a troubled and broken world. Strikingly, in these tales the sense of disenchantment—anger against heroes and happy endings—is nearly absent. The new tales can still be subversive, and still challenge stereotypes in traditional fairy tales, but they do not discard the notion of a fairy tale itself.”

    Exactly! This is why the other two camps that you discuss have never held attraction for me. Jadedness has never been a part of me, despite having lived through some horrible things and faced some trying times. Regardless of it all, I’ve never stopped feeling like that little girl decades ago who read A Wrinkle in Time, Little Women, or <Cranberry Thanksgiving (among so many others, which I still keep prominently on my bookshelf).

    For those who laugh at me for re-reading these childhood favorites that I never relegated to the lumber-room and openly re-read at home, on the subway, in the office, I just shake my head. They may call me childish, but I think they fail to distinguish childish from child-like, and I think I am the latter. Why do they want to choose such an impoverished vision? Yes, some things are tough and I don’t deny reality (loss, death, evil people), but that is no reason for giving up on yourself or the beauty and love that truly exist in the world. If they could only see that it all begins with one’s self, that it shines out from within, from that rock-solid foundation of self-trust and joy that laughs at all challenges before it. The call to “be your own hero” is one that so many refuse to hear, and I don’t understand why? This truly puzzles me, so I’d appreciate any attempt to enlighten me on this point.

    And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for devoting your life to thinking, writing about, and living such ideas. You must surely give courage to those who seek more and are crushed by those around them.

  2. Lovely, I was worried you’d feel left out of the discussion, seeing as we had so much to respond to (which was mostly my fault for questioning instead of responding Last week). Congratulations on publication in the anthology. Jenna’s enthusiam made me want to buy the book, despite disliking HP, and maybe I will, I like discussions of Death and Love, and I’m fresh out of Books I Haven’t Read at home (nursing is apparently Ideal for catching up on reading).

    I’m hopefully sending Jenna a schedule idea for continuing discussion, let me know if you have any ideas, hopes, etc. in that area!

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