plots and pocket framistans
- Diamond Proudfoot wrote:
"Peter got stuck and was in grave danger of capture -
"his sobs were overheard by some friendly sparrows, who flew to him in great
excitement, and implored him to exert himself."
What modern Children's Book Editor would let that stand?"
In fairness to modern Children's Book Editors, I'd like to point out that
in Beatrix Potter's day many people used more formal diction in regular
life than we're likely to hear on all but the most formal occasions today.
One thing that struck me when I watched the Ken Burns Civil War series
(another continent and slightly earlier time, but relevant) was how
beautifully people with little formal education often expressed themselves
in their letters and diaries. Peter Rabbit's original young readers might
actually have heard someone speaking in that style, seriously; I doubt most
children today ever have. That's too bad, but an editor or writer who's
trying for a contemporary tone will have to keep it in mind or risk
unintended humor. I remember reading an early novel--was it Mysteries of
Udolpho?--and bursting into giggles when the heroine haughtily rejected a
man who had seized her violently by the hand. That was not the way to win
Currently I'm reading a lot of complaints about the repetitiousness of
Rowling's work. When the first reviews of HP V came out, there were
numerous complaints about the changes. It's darker, Harry whines too much,
the adults are even more distant and irresponsible, and, OH NO, Harry's
turning into a teenager.
Series readers generally want *some* repetition. Rowling uses a bit much
for my taste. It does seem to me sometimes that just because Harry's such
a success, the books get subjected to an unwarranted amount of terribly
- Just saw this in today's NYTimes email (free registration required; link
isn't free in about a week):
Going at the Changes in, Ya Know, English
By EMILY EAKIN
In his new book, "Doing Our Own Thing," the linguist and
cultural critic John McWhorter paints an elaborate picture
of a culture in linguistic upheaval.
Once again, mythies are ahead of the curve!
John (lurker since the GEnie days)