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WOSSNAME -- APRIL 2006 -- PART 4 OF 4 (continued)

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  • JSCHAUM111@aol.com
    WOSSNAME -- APRIL 2006 -- PART 4 OF 4 (continued) ... 11) THE MAN IN THE HAT: LITERARY BENCHMARK AND HUMANIST PHILOSOPHER by Annie Mac Terry Pratchett is one
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 29, 2006
      WOSSNAME -- APRIL 2006 -- PART 4 OF 4 (continued)
      11) THE MAN IN THE HAT:
      by Annie Mac

      Terry Pratchett is one of the greatest living wordsmiths in our
      oddly roundishly-shaped world.

      “Well, duh,” you say, “of course he is! That’s not news. We already
      knew it.” Ah yes, of course *we* knew it - “we” being the enlightened
      readers of Discworld novels and other works by the Master - but the
      literary world at large has been somewhat slower to acknowledge this.
      Although his novels have long been permanent residents of the new
      bestseller lists, until recently he was considered by the lions and
      scions of academia (also known as Macadamia - May Contain Nuts) to be
      a mere purveyor of fluffy disposable genre-fiction, Literature-with-
      a-big-L’s equivalent of “that wacky, embarrassing mad genius relative
      we don’t talk about and try to ignore at family gatherings”. However,
      the wind is changing now in those chilly corridors of erudition; not
      only is Mr Pratchett being bombarded by an ever-increasing number of
      literary award nominations and actual awards, but essayists and
      Reviewers of Things Literary are now accusing him of being, as the
      title of editor Andrew M. Butler’s book of Pratchett-deconstructing
      essays has it, "Guilty of Literature".

      And I say thee “Yay! For this is a good thing!”


      The road to respectability has been a fraught and winding one. The
      Discworld series achieved massive sales and popularity well before
      even the most progressive of book reviewers were willing to accord
      them any status greater than that of "inexplicably popular fantasy-
      genre rubbish". Until he was recently overtaken at the bookshop
      tills by some lady with a series of pleasantly inoffensive stories
      about an unusual boarding school, Mr Pratchett was by far the biggest
      -selling genre author and accounted for 6.5% of all hardback fiction
      sales through the general retail market by the late 1990s, as well as
      holding the position of third bestselling author, behind Catherine
      Cookson and Danielle Steel, in paperback. Nonetheless (and partly due
      to this very popularity, the "serious" critics ignored his work, with
      menaces. Writing in The Sunday Times in March 1995, Mark Edwards
      acknowledged, "Clearly, serious reviewers have a problem with
      Pratchett...What embarrasses them is that Pratchett is hugely
      successful, that he’s a very funny writer, and that he writes in the
      fantasy genre – perceived as the home of hack writers." Author and
      essayist David Langford, who *almost* managed to convince the British
      Council to admit Pratchett to the ranks of Official Writer of Lit,
      complained that "In Britain the official stamp of Literature is
      conferred by the British Council's high-class series of critical
      texts called 'Writers and their Work'. Only properly literary authors
      need apply...it is easier for Jabba the Hutt to pass through the eye
      of a needle than for a fantasy writer to enter the British Council's
      pantheon." (It should be noted that the British Council only allowed
      J.R.R. Tolkien into these ranks in - wait for it - 1995!)

      One of the first members of the lit-crit intelligentsia to champion
      the literary values of the Discworld books was noted critic and
      author Liz Young (1950-2001). In her obituary for Young, Deborah Orr
      noted: "One of her first pieces was a profile of Terry Pratchett, a
      writer whose growing mainstream popularity did nothing to blunt her
      heightened appreciation. She considered him a genius, and stands as
      one of his most passionate and shrewd early critics." Another of the
      savvy savants who took an early position as defender of the Pterry
      faith was Michael Dirda, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for literary
      criticism and world-famed book reviewer, who eventually put together
      "Bound to Please", a celebration of great authors of great literature;
      in this well-received volume, Dirda puts Pratchett up with long-
      acknowledged heavy hitters including Samuel Pepys, Alexander Pushkin,
      Marcel Proust, Fernando Pessoa, Georges Perec, and Thomas Pynchon.

      Even by the mid-'90s, there were wider rumblings of protest, and
      hints that Academia was beginning to accord respect where it was due.
      Mat Coward, in the Morning Star: "Terry Pratchett has come closer
      than any writer now living to breaking through the snob barrier –
      that is to say, his books are well-written and bring joy to readers,
      yet still manage to get reviewed by people with university degrees."
      Richard Wallace (Head of the University of Keele Classics Dept), in
      ‘Some Unregarded Aspects of the Reception of Classics in the 20th
      Century’: "One of the things that modern readers find difficult about
      ancient (and perhaps especially Latin) literature is the complexity
      and obscurity of mythological and literary references...Pratchett is
      the only modern author known to me with a comparable range and depth
      of allusion. At times he approaches the obscure perversity of even
      Propertius at his most dense." Gair Rhydd: "He is a master of the
      awkward silence, the embarrassed pause, suggesting physical
      mannerisms but never actually needing to commit them to paper."
      Rupert Goodwin, in The Times: "Pratchett’s tales of magical mayhem in
      the cosmically improbable city of Ankh-Morpork and the surrounding
      Discworld sit comfortably on the shelves of dons and deacons."

      And then the awards started to come. Below is a small recap:

      1993 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize (shortlist)
      1993 Writers' Guild Award (Best Children's Book) Johnny and the Dead
      1994 Carnegie Medal(shortlist) Johnny and the Dead
      1996 Nestlé Smarties Book Prize(Silver Award, 9-11 years category)
      Johnny and the Bomb
      1997 Carnegie Medal(shortlist) Johnny and the Bomb
      1997 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize(shortlist)
      1998 OBE
      2001 Carnegie Medal The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents
      2002 WH Smith Award for Children's Literature(shortlist) The Amazing
      Maurice and his Educated Rodents
      2004 WH Smith People's Choice Award The Wee Free Men
      2005 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize(shortlist) Going Postal

      Another respected giant of lit-crit, A. S. Byatt, ranks Pratchett up
      where he belongs: "...in the days before dumbing down and cultural
      studies no one reviewed Enid Blyton or Georgette Heyer – as they do
      not now review the great Terry Pratchett, whose wit is metaphysical,
      who creates an energetic and lively secondary world, who has a
      multifarious genius for strong parody as opposed to derivative
      manipulation of past motifs, who deals with death with startling
      originality." (‘Harry Potter and the Childish Adult’ in the New York
      Times); "Pratchett in my view is one of the great modern
      storytellers." ('On Histories and Stories', Chatto & Windus, 2000);
      "He is a romantic and forces spiritual importance on us. Pratchett,
      though he steals from everywhere and transfigures what he steals, is
      not derivative." (in The Times).

      And at last, the writing of the Man in the Hat has become the subject
      of true literary scrutiny. The stuff of theses and books of critical
      review. The Official Real Thing. From Chris Bryant's essay
      "Postmodern Parody in the Discworld Novels of Terry Pratchett", to
      Rhiannyn Geeson, whose paper "Translating Terry Pratchett", examining
      'hypercultural elements' in the German translations of Pratchett's
      works, was given at the Centre for Comparative Literature and
      Cultural Studies' 2005 Postgraduate Colloquium at Monash University,
      to Andreas Kristiansen's Hovedfag Thesis, "Terry Pratchett's
      Discworld as a Critique of Heroic Fantasy" (submitted to the
      Department of Modern Languages, NTNU, in 2003),to Amanda Cockrell's
      "Where the Falling Angel Meets the Rising Ape: Terry Pratchett’s
      Discworld" (featured extract and review in The Hollins Critic, a
      leading American literary journal, earlier this year), to L-Space's
      own Stacie Hanes, whose Master's thesis was "“Aspects of Humanity:
      The Discworld Novels of Terry Pratchett” (and yes, she then went on
      to her doctoral dissertation!)...well, you get the picture. Pratchett
      and Discworld are becoming a notable part of the study programmes for
      degrees in English or English Literature in universities as far-flung
      as the University of Cape Town ("Witches Abroad" included as a
      significant point of study in literature for English degree course),
      Oklahoma University ENGL 5 (Terry Pratchett's Magical Spaces), and
      far too many other seats of learning for me to list here (hey, folks,
      you too can use the magic of the internet!).

      Further critical reviews: the aforementioned "Guilty of Literature"
      (ed. Butler, ISBN 188296831X); for a review of this book of reviews,
      you could do worse than to look at James Dewitt's Amazon review:
      glance&n=283155 Another interesting review of the book can be found
      at http://www.emcit.com/emcit070.shtml - "interesting" because the
      reviewer has never read any of Pterry's work! Here's a good piece
      about Michael Dirda's "Bound to Please":

      There is so much more to be said here, but we're up against the
      Yahoogroups' format size limit, so here endeth this month's
      installment. Stay tuned for further dazzling displays of your humble
      essayist's passion for the wordsmithing of Mr Pratchett and fortitude
      for hours and hours of research! I leave it to Robin Young, writing
      in The Times (no, not the A-M Times; you know, *The* Times), to have
      the last word about the Master: "The justification of his success is
      that he is a consummate craftsman."

      A special nod of thanks goes to the all-seeing Colin P. Smythe for
      providing several metric tonnes of reviews and quotations. There will
      be cookies. Possibly chocolate chip ones.


      by Anna M. Conina

      How many of you have always longed to own a pristine first
      edition of _The Colour of Magic_, but don't seem to have a
      spare $16,000 lying around?

      How many of you already own a pristine first edition of _The
      Colour of Magic_, but, due to its being kept shrink-wrapped
      in a safe deposit box in Switzerland surrounded by feral
      rottweilers, never actually have a chance to read it?

      Well, then, the first volume of Hill House, Publishers' new
      Discworld x 12 series may be the solution to your problems
      (although if you're suffering from problem #2, I'm more envious
      than sympathetic).

      Limited to 500 subscriptions, this series consists of facsimile
      editions of the first 12 Discworld novels. Identical in "binding,
      paper stock, and jacket art," the books are, according to the
      series publicity, painstakingly "designed to reproduce as
      closely as possible the true first editions of these books."
      In the case of _The Colour of Magic_, Hill House has certainly
      gone to great lengths to reproduce all salient features of the
      very rare 1983 Colin Smythe, Ltd. edition (only 506 copies
      were initially published). Peter Schneider, head of Hill House,
      Publishers, even arranged for the facsimile to be printed by the
      original company, Pennsylvania's Maple-Vail Book Manufacturing
      Group, to ensure an appearance authentic enough to withstand
      the closest scrutiny. An enormous world-bearing turtle, face
      cast in blue shadows and flipper gleaming with amber light,
      floats through space on Alan Smith's jacket illustration, while
      the familiar Colin Smythe avian logo appears on the spine,
      jacket, and title page. The underlying cover is a deep green
      stamped with gold lettering.

      The remaining 11 books will be released at a rate of one every four
      months. Subscribers to the series will pay a rate of $35 per volume
      with free shipping, while individual volumes can be purchased at a
      rate of $40 plus shipping. In addition to the discount, subscribers
      can look forward to a significant additional perk: "As a bonus,
      subscribers to the Series will receive, after publication of book 6
      and book 12, a two-book history of Discworld, both volumes of
      which will be signed by Terry Pratchett." We have no details yet
      concerning this exclusive history, but we'll let you know just as
      soon as we hear anything from the publisher.

      Speaking of bonuses, since the subsequent 11 volumes in the
      series all feature Josh Kirby cover art, _The Colour of Magic_
      comes with the second edition Josh Kirby jacket as well as the
      original. If you prefer to present a unified front of Kidby covers
      on your bookshelves, you can do so at no extra charge.

      Although the series does represent a significant commitment
      of time and money for a prospective purchaser, Hill House
      appears very well-connected, well-established, and well-suited
      to stay the course. Formed in 1983 to issue occasional special
      editions, this New York based company went full-time in 2003.
      Currently, special editions for Neil Gaiman, Lois McMaster Bujold,
      Ray Bradbury, and the Shirley Jackson estate all appear on their
      2006 publishing schedule. Among those credited with assisting
      the project are Colin Smythe, Terry's assistant Rob Wilkins,
      Terry's U.S. editor Jennifer Brehl (also Peter Schneider's wife),
      and Terry himself. The sum total of experience and resources
      devoted to ensuring the quality of these facsimiles is impressive.

      Essentially, _The Colour of Magic_ has been designed so that the
      only readily discernable difference consists of the title page, which,
      to prevent collector confusion, notes that "This facsimile of the first
      edition of THE COLOUR OF MAGIC is published by Hill House,
      Publishers . . . by arrangement with Colin Smythe, Ltd." Just place
      your bookmark over this distracting reminder of reality, and feel free
      to pretend you've given the rottweilers a day off.

      For more information, please visit the Hill House, Publishers website:


      Discworld Multiple choice quiz ye Seconde

      Being a modest selection of Disc-related brain-ticklers and memory-

      by Annie Mac and Steven D'Aprano

      1. What device or artifact did Tiffany Aching employ to overcome
      Jenny Green-teeth?

      a) kung fu
      b) Wentworth
      c) an 8-inch frying pan -

      2. Who introduced Cohen the Barbarian to "dine-chewers"?

      a) the Chieftain of the Horse People
      b) Twoflower
      c) Farrah Fawcett

      3. What first tipped Vimes off that Corporal Littlebottom was female?

      a) her high-heeled iron boots
      b) her sparkly green dress
      c) her lipstick
      d) her earrings

      4. In Maskerade, Salzella claimed that all musical instruments are
      "incredibly expensive to repair" with one possible exception:

      a) triangles
      b) MacFeegle mousepipes
      c) the spoons

      5. The Dwarf in charge of printing The Times was called:

      a) Gimlet Grimfodder
      b) Gunilla Goodmountain
      c) Worsel Gummidge

      6. Name three poisons commonly (or snobbishly) used by the Assassins'

      a) Mur, Nig and Eniru
      b) Darestim, Daturon and Iocaine
      c) Bloat, Lord Downey's mint humbugs, and Wasp Agaric

      7. The Agateans' deadly explosive device is known as a:

      a) Flaming Dragon
      b) Screaming Mimi
      c) Barking Dog
      d) Barbarian Vampire Ghost

      8. In "The Seventh Wife of Greenbeard", according to Malicia Grim,
      Mrs Greenbeard stabbed her husband in the eye with:

      a) an umbrella
      b) a frozen herring
      c) dangerous beans

      9. When Albert was working as a Hogswatch pixie, he called himself:

      a) Old Man Trouble
      b) Fairy Peaseblossom
      c) Uncle Heavy

      10. The notice over the Gates of Hell in "Eric" reads:

      a) "You don't have to be 'damned' to work here, but it helps!!!"
      b) "It's not where you stand, it's which way you face!!!"
      c) "Rooms available!!! Apply at desk!!!!!"

      11. The Spouter breed of swamp dragon tends to:

      a) Piddle reginic acid when excited
      b) Explode in the presence of mint
      c) Drop its scales at the first sign of danger
      d) all of the above

      12. What were the most vital ingredients in Mrs Gogol's gumbo?

      a) snakes' heads and ladies' fingers
      b) parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
      c) dried prawns and gris-gris

      1 - c 2 - b 3 - d 4 - a 5 - b 6 - c
      7 - c 8 - b 9 - c 10 - a 11 - b 12 - a



      Alas, our call for limericks seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
      All we got in this month was one from our News Editor,
      who is not even eligible. The contest is cancelled. She wrote:

      I'm asked to write verse, but alas!
      I fear 'twould be best if I pass;
      Annie Mac has a knack
      I assuredly lack
      And I'd hate to get kicked in the . . . teeth.

      Well, on that happy note I shall end. I had some more stuff
      about the Hammer of the Scots and the Easter Bunny, but it's
      just overkill. If anyone wants to see it, just say the word.
      Copyright 2006 by Klatchian Foreign Legion
      If you did not get all 4 parts, write: jschaum111@...

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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