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New Narnia stories?

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  • jack@greenmanreview.com
    The new HarperCollins Children s catalog has on page 77: The Giant Surprise -- A Narnia Story by Hiawyn Gram with illustrations by Tudor Humphries. ...am
    Message 1 of 11 , Feb 24, 2005
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      The new HarperCollins Children's catalog has on page 77:

      The Giant Surprise -- A Narnia Story by Hiawyn Gram with illustrations by Tudor Humphries.

      '...am exciting original story based on beloved character created by C. S. Lewis in The Chronicles of Narnia.'

      Anyone know how this came about?
    • David Bratman
      This came about because the mysterious corporate entity that owns the Lewis estate decided to milk their copyright for more money. The new and utterly
      Message 2 of 11 , Feb 24, 2005
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        This came about because the mysterious corporate entity that owns the Lewis
        estate decided to milk their copyright for more money. The new and utterly
        repellent "Loonatics" cartoon characters from Warner Brothers are another
        example of what social scientist Timothy Burke calls "holders of valuable
        intellectual property wallowing in squalid pigpens filled with their own
        droppings."

        But remember! You can't complain about this. If you do, the sort of people
        who defend the Jackson films will come out and whine at you.

        I presume your quote from the catalog contains typos from your hasty
        transcription. If it's accurate, it looks like it was badly translated
        from the Russian.



        At 03:09 PM 2/24/2005 -0500, Jack wrote:
        >
        >The new HarperCollins Children's catalog has on page 77:
        >
        >The Giant Surprise -- A Narnia Story by Hiawyn Gram with illustrations by
        >Tudor Humphries.
        >
        >'...am exciting original story based on beloved character created by C. S.
        >Lewis in The Chronicles of Narnia.'
        >
        >Anyone know how this came about?
      • Hugh Davis
        I think there are some new children s books (that s the imprint they are appearing under--I don t know for what ages that means they are aimed) set in
        Message 3 of 11 , Feb 24, 2005
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          I think there are some new "children's" books (that's the imprint they are
          appearing under--I don't know for what ages that means they are aimed) set
          in Narnia. These are part of a slowly building campaign towards the end of
          the year and the release of Walden Media's _LWW_ film.

          Hugh Davis

          >From: jack@...
          >Reply-To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
          >To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
          >Subject: [mythsoc] New Narnia stories?
          >Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2005 15:09:45 -0500
          >
          >The new HarperCollins Children's catalog has on page 77:
          >
          >The Giant Surprise -- A Narnia Story by Hiawyn Gram with illustrations by
          >Tudor Humphries.
          >
          >'...am exciting original story based on beloved character created by C. S.
          >Lewis in The Chronicles of Narnia.'
          >
          >Anyone know how this came about?
        • Rateliff, John
          Amazon.com says the author is Hiawyn Oram, who seems to have done a number of other children s books. It looks to be a forty-page picture book for ages 4 to 8;
          Message 4 of 11 , Feb 24, 2005
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            Amazon.com says the author is Hiawyn Oram, who seems to have done a number of other children's books. It looks to be a forty-page picture book for ages 4 to 8; release date June 1st.
            The description: "In the land of Narnia, Puddleglum the Marsh-wiggle and his niece Lally try to outwit the giants who capture their two mice friends for a mice pie"
            Ick.
            But then (a) I'm hardly the target audience and (b) I have strong opinions about estates licensing out one author's characters, or world, for other authors to continue ("V.C. Andrews TM"). I'm agin it. The only two cases I can think of where picking up a series or story after the original author died have worked are Sanditon by Jane Austen "and Another Lady" and the Strickland sequels to John Bellairs' Johnny & the Professor young adult horror novels. Usually it's a horrible mistake motivated purely by greed. Thank goodness Christopher Tolkien has kept the lid on it for the Tolkien Estate all these years; we should count our blessings.

            > ----------
            <David Bratman wrote>
            > This came about because the mysterious corporate entity that owns the Lewis
            > estate decided to milk their copyright for more money.
            >
            Hm! I thought the corporation was owned and operated by the Gresham brothers; must have gotten mixed up about that.
            I do remember that the original thing that set Lindskoog on the warpath against Walter Hooper was that he blocked the publication of an 8th Narnia novel by a friend of hers back in the 70s. If he'd known how long her vendetta would last I wonder if he'd have still done the same or just let her have her way.

            > But remember! You can't complain about this. If you do, the sort of people
            > who defend the Jackson films will come out and whine at you.
            >
            Hey, you'd be surprised.

            --JDR


            >Jack wrote:
            > >Anyone know how this came about?
            >


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          • WendellWag@aol.com
            In a message dated 2/24/2005 5:21:46 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, ... brothers; must ... It appears that the following happened: The Gresham brothers
            Message 5 of 11 , Feb 24, 2005
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              In a message dated 2/24/2005 5:21:46 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
              john.rateliff@... writes:

              > Hm! I thought the corporation was owned and operated by the Gresham
              brothers; must
              > have gotten mixed up about that.

              It appears that the following happened: The Gresham brothers inherited the
              Lewis estate when Warren Lewis died in 1973. It was not known what further
              happened to the estate until about 1990, when someone enquired about this. At
              that point it was claimed that both David and Douglas Gresham sold their
              shares of the estate to a holding company in the 1970's. Tracing the ownership
              of this holding company proved to be very difficult. The holding company had
              a German name, an address in Singapore, and was run (but not owned) by a
              Swiss lawyer. In the late 1990's, evidence developed to show that, in fact, the
              Gresham brothers still own the estate. They merely sold the estate to a
              holding company that they own through some complicated chain of ownership. Who
              knows what purpose they had in setting up this complex way of owning and
              controlling the estate?

              Wendell Wagner



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            • Beth Russell
              ... From: Rateliff, John [mailto:john.rateliff@wizards.com] Sent: Thursday, February 24, 2005 3:53 PM To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com Subject: RE: [mythsoc] New
              Message 6 of 11 , Feb 24, 2005
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                -----Original Message-----
                From: Rateliff, John [mailto:john.rateliff@...]
                Sent: Thursday, February 24, 2005 3:53 PM
                To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                Subject: RE: [mythsoc] New Narnia stories?

                > Ick.

                I thought that Dorothy Sayers novel completed by "Another Lady" was
                pretty icky too.

                Cheers,

                Beth



                The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                Yahoo! Groups Links
              • David Bratman
                ... I have been amazed at the number of people who think that Christopher Tolkien has been doing just this. Brian Herbert, son of the late Frank Herbert, has
                Message 7 of 11 , Feb 28, 2005
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                  At 01:53 PM 2/24/2005 -0800, John Rateliff wrote:

                  >But then (a) I'm hardly the target audience and (b) I have strong opinions
                  >about estates licensing out one author's characters, or world, for other
                  >authors to continue ("V.C. Andrews TM"). I'm agin it.

                  I have been amazed at the number of people who think that Christopher
                  Tolkien has been doing just this. Brian Herbert, son of the late Frank
                  Herbert, has been writing his own Dune continuation books, and these people
                  think the posthumous Tolkien books are of the same sort. Obviously they
                  haven't looked at them.


                  > I do remember that the original thing that set Lindskoog on the warpath
                  >against Walter Hooper was that he blocked the publication of an 8th Narnia
                  >novel by a friend of hers back in the 70s. If he'd known how long her
                  >vendetta would last I wonder if he'd have still done the same or just let
                  >her have her way.

                  Since Lindskoog's charges have nothing to do with this, and stand or fall
                  on their own merits (some have done each), I hope she couldn't have been
                  bought off in this manner.


                  >> But remember! You can't complain about this. If you do, the sort of people
                  >> who defend the Jackson films will come out and whine at you.
                  >>
                  >Hey, you'd be surprised.

                  I think not. I did not say the same individuals, but "the sort of people."

                  But though the comment was sarcastic, it had a serious point.

                  About Jackson's films, you said, "Tolkien himself came down firmly on the
                  side of 'better a glimpse of Noakes' cake than no faerie at all'." If
                  that's true, then why not a cheap knockoff latter-day Narnia book than no
                  Narnia book at all?

                  And you said, "By an overwhelming majority, most people like both the book
                  and the films." What if it turns out that most people like both the
                  original Narnia books and the knockoffs?

                  Comments that others have made in claiming that Jackson's excretions are
                  tolerable are even more clearly applicable than these to knock-off Narnia
                  books.
                • Rateliff, John
                  ... Separate events in separate media; apples & oranges. You re free to disagree with Tolkien but I think he s right. ... See below. ... If you read carefully
                  Message 8 of 11 , Mar 2, 2005
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                    > From: David Bratman
                    > About Jackson's films, you said, "Tolkien himself came down firmly on the
                    > side of 'better a glimpse of Noakes' cake than no faerie at all'." If
                    > that's true, then why not a cheap knockoff latter-day Narnia book than no
                    > Narnia book at all?
                    >
                    Separate events in separate media; apples & oranges. You're free to disagree with Tolkien but I think he's right.

                    > And you said, "By an overwhelming majority, most people like both the book
                    > and the films." What if it turns out that most people like both the
                    > original Narnia books and the knockoffs?
                    >
                    See below.

                    > Comments that others have made in claiming that Jackson's excretions are
                    > tolerable are even more clearly applicable than these to knock-off Narnia
                    > books.
                    >
                    If you read carefully what I wrote, you'll find I don't share your fear of adaptations into other media, whether it's films, music, spoken-word recordings, plays, graphic novels, art, or whatever. My distaste is for authors so unoriginal that, instead of creating their own worlds or characters they have to munch and mumble the bare old bones of other authors. I think it's a mistake to try to write in another author's voice rather than your own. There are exceptional cases where genius has pulled it off, but it's a bad idea as a rule.
                    In short: creating a new work, or adapting a work into a wholly new medium (such as Jackson making films based on LotR) does not harm the original work in any way, however well or badly the adaptation is done. Writing new stories by another hand, whether it's pseudo-Conan, pseudo-Herbert, pseudo-Barrie, pseudo-CLS, or whatever, doesn't harm the original author's work either but it's tacky and not to be encouraged.
                    For the record, though, in this particular instance I'd be perfectly happy with no Narnia at all (again, I agree with Tolkien*). It's not my ox being gored, but I still think it's a bad idea, motivated by greed rather than artistic inspiration. That said, I'm sure Disney will produce some amusing bits of fluff of no great consequence. They did a good job with their early Milne shorts (which I've been surprised to not find referenced in this discussion before as examples of good adaptations that stand beside the originals in quality).
                    Finally, I think there's a consensus (everywhere except on this list) that Jackson's films aren't "excretions" and they're far more than merely tolerable: they're great works as well as successful adaptations. I wish they'd been more faithful, but my irritation (which can at times grow quite sharp) doesn't distract from Jackson's achievement, nor does his achievement detract from Tolkien's in any way.


                    *that said, it doesn't bother me that other people like them; more power to them for finding enjoyment in something that didn't do much for me. I have better things to do than play F.R. Leavis. Literary quality is either self-evident or unprovable: there's really no middle ground.


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                  • David Bratman
                    ... It s not good enough to say apples & oranges , John: you must say what s different about them. Why is a different book by a different author confusable
                    Message 9 of 11 , Mar 8, 2005
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                      At 09:22 AM 3/2/2005 -0800, John Rateliff wrote:
                      >
                      >> From: David Bratman
                      >> About Jackson's films, you said, "Tolkien himself came down firmly on the
                      >> side of 'better a glimpse of Noakes' cake than no faerie at all'." If
                      >> that's true, then why not a cheap knockoff latter-day Narnia book than no
                      >> Narnia book at all?
                      >>
                      >Separate events in separate media; apples & oranges.

                      It's not good enough to say "apples & oranges", John: you must say what's
                      different about them. Why is a different book by a different author
                      confusable with the original, while a film retelling of the original story
                      is not? We already have had ample evidence presented that people confuse
                      the film with the book.

                      >If you read carefully what I wrote, you'll find I don't share your fear of
                      >adaptations into other media, whether it's films, music, spoken-word
                      >recordings, plays, graphic novels, art, or whatever. My distaste is for
                      >authors so unoriginal that, instead of creating their own worlds or
                      >characters they have to munch and mumble the bare old bones of other
                      >authors. I think it's a mistake to try to write in another author's voice
                      >rather than your own.

                      Adaptation into another medium is exactly that: "trying to write in another
                      author's voice." It's not always a mistake, if sufficient originality and
                      imagination are brought to the task. Jackson tried both to be very
                      different and utterly faithful, and fell between two stools.



                      > In short: creating a new work, or adapting a work into a wholly new
                      >medium (such as Jackson making films based on LotR) does not harm the
                      >original work in any way, however well or badly the adaptation is done.
                      >Writing new stories by another hand, whether it's pseudo-Conan,
                      >pseudo-Herbert, pseudo-Barrie, pseudo-CLS, or whatever, doesn't harm the
                      >original author's work either but it's tacky and not to be encouraged.

                      We've already been over the "harm of the original work" question, and amply
                      proven that it does harm readerly understanding of the original work, but
                      if you don't think the new Narnia will harm the original Narnia it's a moot
                      point. But if the only harm that the new Narnia will do is that it's
                      "tacky", why this fierce resistance to the idea that Jackson's grotesque
                      simplifications of Tolkien are tacky?


                      >[Disney] did a good job with
                      >their early Milne shorts (which I've been surprised to not find referenced
                      >in this discussion before as examples of good adaptations that stand beside
                      >the originals in quality).

                      I stand in mute astonishment at this equation.


                      > Finally, I think there's a consensus (everywhere except on this list)
                      >that Jackson's films aren't "excretions" and they're far more than merely
                      >tolerable: they're great works as well as successful adaptations.

                      Actually, there's a strong consensus among serious Tolkien scholars
                      everywhere that the films are, in their capacity as adaptations, severe and
                      unnecessary distortions. You are the primary, and a very singular,
                      exception to this consensus.

                      That the average punter out there sees a story about Frodo and Aragorn and
                      the Ring and figures it's pretty much the same as Tolkien's story about
                      Frodo and Aragorn and the Ring only shows how little the average punter
                      knows about Tolkien. Anyone who thinks that's an elitist comment is
                      invited to submit a detailed refutation to the proposition, "Scholars know
                      more about the books they study than the average casual reader does."

                      I salute Jackson's management and accomplishment of an enormous film-making
                      enterprise. In this he has been more successful than any other film
                      director in history. But that is the only sense in which I would call his
                      films "great works." As a fantasy story on its own, separate from
                      Tolkien's, it is unremarkable and merely average. It has none of Tolkien's
                      greatness, and to claim that it does have that greatness is merely to
                      confess one's ignorance of where Tolkien's greatness lies.


                      >they've built up their own community and started their own branch of Tolkien
                      >scholarship that in time will probably turn out to be just as valid as the
                      >one that grew out of fanzines.

                      As Carl said earlier, this will be Jackson scholarship, not Tolkien
                      scholarship. Jackson scholarship is a legitimate pursuit: my only
                      complaint with it is when it floods over into and interferes with Tolkien
                      scholarship, which it already is doing. It is this sort of thing I refer
                      to when I write of "harm to the original."

                      David Bratman
                    • jamcconney@aol.com
                      In a message dated 3/8/2005 1:16:42 P.M. Central Standard Time, dbratman@earthlink.net writes: Adaptation into another medium is exactly that: trying to write
                      Message 10 of 11 , Mar 8, 2005
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                        In a message dated 3/8/2005 1:16:42 P.M. Central Standard Time,
                        dbratman@... writes:

                        Adaptation into another medium is exactly that: "trying to write in another
                        author's voice."


                        Not really. I once taught a course called "Literature in Film" in which we
                        had a grand old time watching movie adaptations of everything from 'Hamlet' to
                        'Silence of the Lambs' (no Tolkien on film worth speaking about back then).
                        The final project for the students was to find a piece of literature (short
                        story, poem, scene from a novel, something that hadn't been adapted before) and
                        write it as a screenplay.

                        As you might expect, some got the idea at once that they could use only
                        dialogue and visual images to tell the story and did some really quite good
                        things. Others never managed it, picked up chunks of description and presented it
                        as dialogue, never really made clear what was supposed to be happening on the
                        screen, etc. One and all nodded and said YES! when one student said,
                        "Wow--that was HARD."

                        What I'm saying, rather long-windedly, is that print and film are two
                        different arts, two different disciplines. The adapter should try to be faithful to
                        the original author's vision, but can never speak in the same voice.

                        Unless maybe we don't all mean the same thing when we say 'voice'--even in a
                        group that seems to have a lot of academic types, there are many subtle
                        differences in such words....

                        Anne


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                      • David Bratman
                        ... the ... Well, here s John Rateliff s definition of writing in another author s voice : authors so unoriginal that, instead of creating their own worlds
                        Message 11 of 11 , Mar 8, 2005
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                          At 02:49 PM 3/8/2005 -0500, Anne wrote:
                          >Not really. I once taught a course called "Literature in Film" in which we
                          >had a grand old time watching movie adaptations of everything from 'Hamlet'
                          >to
                          >'Silence of the Lambs' (no Tolkien on film worth speaking about back then).
                          >The final project for the students was to find a piece of literature (short
                          >story, poem, scene from a novel, something that hadn't been adapted before)
                          >and
                          >write it as a screenplay.
                          >
                          >As you might expect, some got the idea at once that they could use only
                          >dialogue and visual images to tell the story and did some really quite good
                          >things. Others never managed it, picked up chunks of description and
                          >presented it
                          >as dialogue, never really made clear what was supposed to be happening on
                          the
                          >screen, etc. One and all nodded and said YES! when one student said,
                          >"Wow--that was HARD."
                          >
                          >What I'm saying, rather long-windedly, is that print and film are two
                          >different arts, two different disciplines. The adapter should try to be
                          >faithful to
                          >the original author's vision, but can never speak in the same voice.
                          >
                          >Unless maybe we don't all mean the same thing when we say 'voice'--even in a
                          >group that seems to have a lot of academic types, there are many subtle
                          >differences in such words....

                          Well, here's John Rateliff's definition of "writing in another author's voice":

                          "authors so unoriginal that, instead of creating their own worlds or
                          characters they have to munch and mumble the bare old bones of other authors."

                          And that is what a screenplay adapter does. QED.

                          If it is unfair to use that characterization of a screenplay adapter, it is
                          equally unfair to use it of the "pseudo-Conan, pseudo-Herbert,
                          pseudo-Barrie, pseudo-CLS" book authors of whom he does use it. (And who
                          exactly are the pseudo-Barries he has in mind? Barrie was a dramatist, and
                          the most prominent pseudo-Barrie works are on film.) Maybe these pseudos
                          are bad writers. But badness has nothing to do with medium. Other book
                          pseudos are good writers. (Much pseudo-Lovecraft surpasses the original,
                          for instance.) And many screenplay writers are very bad indeed.


                          David Bratman
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