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Re: Alexander and Garner

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  • Jason Fisher
    David, ... How do you know Garner hadn t, if you don t mind my asking? The Weirdstone of Brisingamen (another favorite of mine growing up) was published in
    Message 1 of 3 , May 30, 2007
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      David,

      > It's interesting to think, though, that both Garner and
      > Alexander did not read Tolkien until after they'd written
      > their Tolkienesque books.

      How do you know Garner hadn't, if you don't mind my asking? "The Weirdstone of Brisingamen" (another favorite of mine growing up) was published in 1960, I believe, so it seems plausible Garner had just finished reading Tolkien when he decided to plumb the Norse and Celtic myths for "Brisingamen". If you have a source for the claim that he hadn't read Tolkien, I'd be curious to learn more. Perhaps something Garner himself said in an interview, I'm guessing? I know he's disavowed any conscious borrowing, but I hadn't heard any claim that he hadn't even *read* him before he wrote the Alderley Edge books.

      > Personally, I think that Alexander's finest work was the
      > _Westmark_ trilogy, especially the middle volume, _The Kestrel_.

      Yes, I agree. I also think some of the one-offs like "The Marvellous Misadventures of Sebastian" and "The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha" are wonderful. Both of these were published in roughly the same Golden Decade David Bratman was just describing.

      Jason Fisher

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    • John D Rateliff
      ... Garner claimed not to have read Tolkien when he wrote his books, but I can t cite you a primary source on that. Interestingly enough, the authors of THE
      Message 2 of 3 , May 30, 2007
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        On May 30, 2007, at 8:54 AM, Jason Fisher wrote:
        >> It's interesting to think, though, that both Garner and
        >> Alexander did not read Tolkien until after they'd written
        >> their Tolkienesque books.
        >
        > How do you know Garner hadn't, if you don't mind my asking? "The
        > Weirdstone of Brisingamen" (another favorite of mine growing up)
        > was published in 1960, I believe, so it seems plausible Garner had
        > just finished reading Tolkien when he decided to plumb the Norse
        > and Celtic myths for "Brisingamen". If you have a source for the
        > claim that he hadn't read Tolkien, I'd be curious to learn more.
        > Perhaps something Garner himself said in an interview, I'm
        > guessing? I know he's disavowed any conscious borrowing, but I
        > hadn't heard any claim that he hadn't even *read* him before he
        > wrote the Alderley Edge books.

        Garner claimed not to have read Tolkien when he wrote his books, but
        I can't cite you a primary source on that. Interestingly enough, the
        authors of THE RING OF WORDS say they've disproved his claim:

        "Within fantasy literature, Tolkien's coinages and distinctive
        uses can be found everywhere . . . one of the earliest [examples] was
        Alan Garner, whose successful children's fantasy novel The Weirdstone
        of Brisingamen (1960) contains a number of thematic echoes of Tolkien
        (as discussed by Shippey*). Curiously, Garner claims never to have
        read The Lord of the Rings, as part of a policy of not reading
        fiction for fear of being subconsciously influenced by other writers'
        ideas; and yet, unless Garner has also read [the 15th-century poem]
        Cursor Mundi, there is no other obvious source for his description of
        the evil wizard Grimnir as 'a great lore-master'. The word now occurs
        frequently in fatnasy writing . . ." (Gilliver, Marshall, & Weiner,
        THE RING OF WORDS: TOLKIEN AND THE OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY, page 227).

        *[Shippey's discussion comes in the last chapter of AUTHOR OF THE
        CENTURY--JDR]

        --JDR




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      • Pauline J. Alama
        ... I recently came across an interview in which Alexander said the descriptions of the horrors of war in The Kestrel came from his personal experience in
        Message 3 of 3 , May 30, 2007
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          In response to:
          > > Personally, I think that Alexander's finest work was the
          > > _Westmark_ trilogy, especially the middle volume, _The Kestrel_.
          >
          I recently came across an interview in which Alexander said the
          descriptions of the horrors of war in The Kestrel came from his
          personal experience in WWII. He'd been an eager recruit, hoping to be a
          hero, till those visions collided hard with bloody reality. That, like
          Tolkien's war experience, explained a whole lot in his books. It also
          fits right into T. Shippey's ideas (in Tolkien, Author of the 20th
          Century) that a significant number of 20th-century fantasists were
          writing out of an experience of war and the horrors of war.

          Pauline
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