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Re: [mythsoc] Farewell, Lloyd Alexander

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  • Diane Joy Baker
    Ahh, too bad. ---djb ... From: Jason Fisher To: Mythsoc Listserv Sent: Friday, May 18, 2007 2:34 PM Subject: [mythsoc] Farewell, Lloyd Alexander Not quite
    Message 1 of 17 , May 23, 2007
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      Ahh, too bad. ---djb

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Jason Fisher
      To: Mythsoc Listserv
      Sent: Friday, May 18, 2007 2:34 PM
      Subject: [mythsoc] Farewell, Lloyd Alexander


      Not quite mythopoeic, but close enough. I'm sure at least some of you will remember Lloyd Alexander's works -- especially his Prydain Cycle, set in a kind of idealized Wales with a backdrop drawn from the Mabinogion -- with as much fondness as I do ...

      A great loss.

      ----- Forwarded Message ----
      From: Jennifer Jaroch <jenjaroch@...>
      To: Jason Fisher <visualweasel@...>
      Sent: Friday, May 18, 2007 1:13:28 PM
      Subject: I'm sorry to deliver this news, honey

      Author Lloyd Alexander Dead at 83
      May 18, 11:19 AM EST

      The Associated Press

      PHILADELPHIA -- Lloyd Alexander, a prolific writer of children's books
      including the five-book series "The Chronicles of Prydain," died Thursday.
      He was 83.

      Alexander died at his home in the Philadelphia suburb of Drexel Hill, said
      Jennifer Abbots, spokeswoman for his publishing company, Henry Holt Books
      For Young Readers. He had cancer, she said.

      The final book in his Prydain series, "The High King," won the Newbery Medal
      from the American Library Association in 1969, being recognized as the best
      children's book of the year. Another book in the series, "The Black
      Cauldron," was named a runner-up for the medal in 1966, a status now known
      as a Newbery Honor Book.

      His final novel, "The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio," is scheduled to be
      published by Holt in August. The publisher described it as an adventure in
      the tradition of Middle Eastern folk tales.

      Alexander joined the Army at the start of World War II and got much of his
      training in Wales. His experiences in the area inspired many of his books.

      He met Janine Denni, whom he married in 1946, while attending the University
      of Paris. She died two weeks before he did, Holt said in a statement.

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





      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • David Bratman
      There s a very nice evaluation of the Prydain books here:
      Message 2 of 17 , May 24, 2007
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        There's a very nice evaluation of the Prydain books here:

        <http://weblogs.swarthmore.edu/burke/>
      • Jason Fisher
        ... Thanks for that, David. [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        Message 3 of 17 , May 24, 2007
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          > There's a very nice evaluation of the Prydain books here:
          > <http://weblogs.swarthmore.edu/burke/>

          Thanks for that, David.

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • John D Rateliff
          ... And Joy Chant, and Ruth NIchols, and (best of all) John Bellairs. But you re right that it was a very short list, and Lloyd Alexander was probably the best
          Message 4 of 17 , May 28, 2007
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            On May 18, 2007, at 12:22 PM, David Bratman wrote:
            > Before Terry Brooks and Stephen R. Donaldson, before Katherine
            > Kurtz ...
            >
            > Before even, to take better authors, Richard Adams's _Watership
            > Down_, Peter Beagle's _The Last Unicorn_, and Ursula Le Guin's _A
            > Wizard of Earthsea_ ...
            >
            > There were:
            > Carol Kendall's Minnipin books,
            > Alan Garner's Alderley Edge books,
            > and Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain.
            >
            > And if you wanted to read post-Tolkien literature that evoked his
            > work or otherwise gave the impression that the authors knew that he
            > had passed before them, that was just about it.
            >
            > And they were all decent authors, too. Mythopoeic? I should say so!
            >

            And Joy Chant, and Ruth NIchols, and (best of all) John Bellairs. But
            you're right that it was a very short list, and Lloyd Alexander was
            probably the best known and most widely circulated of the lot,
            especially after the last book in the series won the Newbery. His
            was the first fantasy I found post-Tolkien, and although I knew from
            the start that I'd have liked him more if I'd read him before Tolkien
            I certainly read and re-read all five, with THE BLACK CAULDRON and
            THE BOOK OF THREE being my favorites and TARAN WANDERER my least
            favorite by a long shot. And he was my first introduction to the
            wonderful world of Welsh myth, i.e. THE MABINOGION, for which I'll
            always be grateful. I'm glad he had a good long life.

            --JDR
          • Pauline J. Alama
            Sorry to be replying to old messages...I ve been awfully out of touch, and just found out about the death Lloyd Alexander, who was my absolute favorite author
            Message 5 of 17 , May 30, 2007
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              Sorry to be replying to old messages...I've been awfully out of touch,
              and just found out about the death Lloyd Alexander, who was my absolute
              favorite author for a few formative years of childhood. Like Jason, I
              too found that he answered every letter I ever sent him, charmingly and
              personally. No wonder I feel like I knew him. Well, that and having
              spent two or three years of childhood reading and re-reading the
              Prydain chronicles and generally trying my best to find the door into
              Prydain. I'd still go there in a minute, if I could find it. Before I'd
              every heard of Tolkien, he got me hooked on fantasy. I sent him a copy
              of THE EYE OF NIGHT when it came out with a note of thanks for opening
              the doors of imagination. He sent back a gracious letter with some kind
              words about it that I suspect of "coloring the facts," as Fflewdur
              Fflamm (my favorite of his characters) might say. He seemed to be as
              lovely a person as he was an author, and his gentle world view is much
              needed in the times we're living through. I hope his books will
              continue to reach young readers for many years to come.
              Pauline J. Alama

              --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Jason Fisher <visualweasel@...> wrote:
              >
              > > While working on the Mythlore index project, I ran across a
              > > letter from Alexander in one of the earliest issues, so we go
              > > way back with him.
              >
              > I wrote to him twice back the early 1980s – even venturing to send
              him copies of some poems I had written. He replied to both letters
              (typed and signed by hand), offering comments on my poems, and telling
              me about the new book he was working on (it was probably The Beggar
              Queen or The Illyrian Adventure; I don't recall at the moment), and he
              sent me an autographed commemorative pamphlet about the Prydain Cycle.
              He was the best.
              >
              > Jason
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
            • Jason Fisher
              ... I feel certain they will. What a wonderful message, Pauline. Thanks! :) Jason [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              Message 6 of 17 , May 30, 2007
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                > He seemed to be as lovely a person as he was an
                > author, and his gentle world view is much needed
                > in the times we're living through. I hope his books
                > will continue to reach young readers for many years
                > to come.

                I feel certain they will. What a wonderful message, Pauline. Thanks! :)

                Jason

                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • David Bratman
                ... Yes, those are good authors too, but in naming Kendall, Garner, and Alexander I was limiting myself to authors whose books PREDATE all three of _Watership
                Message 7 of 17 , May 30, 2007
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                  At 09:31 PM 5/28/2007 -0700, John D Rateliff wrote:

                  >On May 18, 2007, at 12:22 PM, David Bratman wrote:
                  >> Before Terry Brooks and Stephen R. Donaldson, before Katherine
                  >> Kurtz ...
                  >>
                  >> Before even, to take better authors, Richard Adams's _Watership
                  >> Down_, Peter Beagle's _The Last Unicorn_, and Ursula Le Guin's _A
                  >> Wizard of Earthsea_ ...
                  >>
                  >> There were:
                  >> Carol Kendall's Minnipin books,
                  >> Alan Garner's Alderley Edge books,
                  >> and Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain.
                  >>
                  >> And if you wanted to read post-Tolkien literature that evoked his
                  >> work or otherwise gave the impression that the authors knew that he
                  >> had passed before them, that was just about it.
                  >>
                  >> And they were all decent authors, too. Mythopoeic? I should say so!
                  >
                  >And Joy Chant, and Ruth NIchols, and (best of all) John Bellairs.

                  Yes, those are good authors too, but in naming Kendall, Garner, and
                  Alexander I was limiting myself to authors whose books PREDATE all three of
                  _Watership Down_, _The Last Unicorn_, and _A Wizard of Earthsea_, and none
                  of those three do (except Bellairs's _St. Fidgeta_, which isn't
                  Tolkien-evoking). Before 1968, if you wanted post-Tolkien literature that
                  evoked his work in the way I described, you had Kendall, Garner, and
                  Alexander, and that was about it.

                  So before 1968, it was pretty quiet out there, and Alexander was one of the
                  pioneer explorers. The approximate decade 1968-1976 was something of the
                  golden age for post-Tolkien fantasy, with Adams, Beagle, Le Guin, Bellairs,
                  Nichols, and Chant - to which one should certainly add Patricia McKillip,
                  who appeared then (I first heard of her when _The Forgotten Beasts of Eld_
                  was an MFA nominee in 1975), and maybe Sanders Ann Laubenthal's
                  _Excalibur_, a 1973 book that wasn't really very good but which managed to
                  evoke all three major Inklings at once, then a unique achievement.

                  And during this time Lloyd Alexander was coming out with new books, too,
                  including his Prydain short story collection _The Foundling_.
                • John D Rateliff
                  ... Good point, David. Yes, I was blurring the early/mid 70s with the writers from the 60s you had listed. Interesting that poor old Lin Carter devoted the
                  Message 8 of 17 , May 30, 2007
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                    On May 30, 2007, at 7:55 AM, David Bratman wrote:
                    > Yes, those are good authors too, but in naming Kendall, Garner, and
                    > Alexander I was limiting myself to authors whose books PREDATE all
                    > three of
                    > _Watership Down_, _The Last Unicorn_, and _A Wizard of Earthsea_,
                    > and none
                    > of those three do (except Bellairs's _St. Fidgeta_, which isn't
                    > Tolkien-evoking). Before 1968, if you wanted post-Tolkien
                    > literature that
                    > evoked his work in the way I described, you had Kendall, Garner, and
                    > Alexander, and that was about it.

                    Good point, David. Yes, I was blurring the early/mid 70s with the
                    writers from the 60s you had listed. Interesting that poor old Lin
                    Carter devoted the Postscript of his A LOOK BEHIND 'THE LORD OF THE
                    RINGS' (1969) to those same three, in that same sequence, as the
                    first to show influence from JRRT, so I guess it's a judgment that's
                    stood the test of time.

                    > So before 1968, it was pretty quiet out there, and Alexander was
                    > one of the
                    > pioneer explorers. The approximate decade 1968-1976 was something
                    > of the
                    > golden age for post-Tolkien fantasy, with Adams, Beagle, Le Guin,
                    > Bellairs,
                    > Nichols, and Chant - to which one should certainly add Patricia
                    > McKillip,
                    > who appeared then (I first heard of her when _The Forgotten Beasts
                    > of Eld_
                    > was an MFA nominee in 1975), and maybe Sanders Ann Laubenthal's
                    > _Excalibur_, a 1973 book that wasn't really very good but which
                    > managed to
                    > evoke all three major Inklings at once, then a unique achievement.

                    I rather like the idea of that having been a golden age of post-
                    Tolkienian fantasy, before the Tolk-clones hit big in the mid-70s
                    (early Donaldson, Brooks, and, rather later but worst of all,
                    Keirnan). Most of what I've re-read of this material in recent years
                    holds up extremely well; I'll have to make a point of working my way
                    back round to some of the others.

                    --JDR
                  • David Bratman
                    ... It has indeed. Carter s flaws were many, but in those days he really knew the fantasy field. Ironically, even as he was writing _Look Behind_, three new
                    Message 9 of 17 , May 30, 2007
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                      At 05:18 PM 5/30/2007 -0700, John D Rateliff wrote:

                      >Good point, David. Yes, I was blurring the early/mid 70s with the
                      >writers from the 60s you had listed. Interesting that poor old Lin
                      >Carter devoted the Postscript of his A LOOK BEHIND 'THE LORD OF THE
                      >RINGS' (1969) to those same three, in that same sequence, as the
                      >first to show influence from JRRT, so I guess it's a judgment that's
                      >stood the test of time.

                      It has indeed. Carter's flaws were many, but in those days he really knew
                      the fantasy field.

                      Ironically, even as he was writing _Look Behind_, three new books were
                      coming out by then little-known authors (Beagle, Bellairs, and Le Guin)
                      which expanded both the quantity, and what I guess you'd call the maturity
                      of Tolkien-evoking fantasy, and he didn't see them in time. Never mind, he
                      praised them all, along with Joy Chant and Evangeline Walton, in his next
                      nonfiction book, _Imaginary Worlds_, four years later. In the interim he'd
                      published Chant and Walton himself, and I think his comments on _The Face
                      in the Frost_ were probably more responsible for that book's original
                      reputation than anything else was.

                      >I rather like the idea of that having been a golden age of post-
                      >Tolkienian fantasy, before the Tolk-clones hit big in the mid-70s
                      >(early Donaldson, Brooks, and, rather later but worst of all,
                      >Keirnan). Most of what I've re-read of this material in recent years
                      >holds up extremely well; I'll have to make a point of working my way
                      >back round to some of the others.

                      This was a period during which those of us who liked fantasy read
                      absolutely everything new that came out. And I remember our bewilderment
                      at the sudden advent of giant trilogies and other series that really
                      weren't very good. First it was Neil Hancock (remember him?), then the
                      stunningly awful Terry Brooks, then Donaldson, who had his merits but was
                      just ...

                      It was a little bit like: you live in a small town of cranky old houses and
                      an occasional newer building in the same style. Every time a new neighbor
                      moves to town, you go over and greet them and they're always interested in
                      learning about the town's customs and habits.

                      Suddenly a developer comes and builds a vast tract of identikit box-like
                      houses on the edge of town, and a lot of new people move in who not only
                      aren't interested in the way things have always been done, they consider
                      their area to be the real town, and the old town to be an appendical old
                      slum district.
                    • Elizabeth Hardy
                      I m a little slow at replying myself, and I ve been numbed by Alexander s death. His books came to as I had finished my first time through the Chronicles of
                      Message 10 of 17 , May 31, 2007
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                        I'm a little slow at replying myself, and I've been numbed by Alexander's death. His books came to as I had finished my first time through the Chronicles of Narnia, and they still resonate deeply with me. I longed to be one of his heroines, although, like you, I was always most connected to Fflewdur (my maiden name, Baird, is a variation of bard). In high school, I did a report on Westmark, complete with a 3-D map made from modeling clay! I wonder if poor Mrs. Thomas still had it when she retired! To me, his great gift was creating haunting scenes that still come to mind: not just the war horrors of Kestrel. The scene in The High King, with the company gathered around the dying fire made from Fflewdur's harp, is one I don't think I can ever escape, and Alexander's emotional resonance firmly places him, in my mind, among the constellations of Lewis and Tolkien. I look forward to introducing Taran and his friends to my son (we're just starting Robin Hood), and to my daughter,
                        in hopes she will admire Eilonwy and Mickle as much as I did.
                        Elizabeth

                        "Pauline J. Alama" <PJAlama@...> wrote:
                        Sorry to be replying to old messages...I've been awfully out of touch,
                        and just found out about the death Lloyd Alexander, who was my absolute
                        favorite author for a few formative years of childhood. Like Jason, I
                        too found that he answered every letter I ever sent him, charmingly and
                        personally. No wonder I feel like I knew him. Well, that and having
                        spent two or three years of childhood reading and re-reading the
                        Prydain chronicles and generally trying my best to find the door into
                        Prydain. I'd still go there in a minute, if I could find it. Before I'd
                        every heard of Tolkien, he got me hooked on fantasy. I sent him a copy
                        of THE EYE OF NIGHT when it came out with a note of thanks for opening
                        the doors of imagination. He sent back a gracious letter with some kind
                        words about it that I suspect of "coloring the facts," as Fflewdur
                        Fflamm (my favorite of his characters) might say. He seemed to be as
                        lovely a person as he was an author, and his gentle world view is much
                        needed in the times we're living through. I hope his books will
                        continue to reach young readers for many years to come.
                        Pauline J. Alama

                        --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Jason Fisher <visualweasel@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > > While working on the Mythlore index project, I ran across a
                        > > letter from Alexander in one of the earliest issues, so we go
                        > > way back with him.
                        >
                        > I wrote to him twice back the early 1980s – even venturing to send
                        him copies of some poems I had written. He replied to both letters
                        (typed and signed by hand), offering comments on my poems, and telling
                        me about the new book he was working on (it was probably The Beggar
                        Queen or The Illyrian Adventure; I don't recall at the moment), and he
                        sent me an autographed commemorative pamphlet about the Prydain Cycle.
                        He was the best.
                        >
                        > Jason
                        >
                        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        >






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