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Oz vs. Narnia

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  • David Lenander
    Yes. I went and read the article and I m almost sorry that I did. The writer seems to be a fairly sensitive and intelligent reader, but she gets things so
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 28 8:51 AM
      Yes. I went and read the article and I'm almost sorry that I did. The writer
      seems to be a fairly sensitive and intelligent reader, but she gets things so
      wrong. Her virtues are what makes the article so irritating. She's also not very
      well-read, at least in children's fantasy. I really want to write a reply, but
      haven't the time. I hope that you (David B) did. Among other things, she repeats
      the assertion that there isn't much good American children's fantasy (do you
      suppose she's read *anything* by Lawson, L'Engle, Le Guin, McKillip, Cameron,
      McKenzie, Kendall, Brooks, Alexander, Cooper, McKinley, Yolen, Levin, Ipcar, Wrede,
      Hodgell, Curry, Sauer, Sherwood Smith, Coville, Shetterly, Stevermer, Eager, Bauer,
      Lowry, Maguire, Dalkey, Morris, Billingsley, Pierce (both of 'em), Voigt, Levine,
      Napoli, Barron, Naylor, Hawthorne, North, Snyder, Doyle & McDonald, Griffin,
      Charnas, or Kindl?--to pick some names off the top of my head. Well, o.k., I
      cheated a little. I went to look up the names of the authors of _Knight's Wyrd_ on
      that excellent web-page at http://www.mythsoc.org/MFAnoms.html and was reminded of
      a few more). Her bashing of Oz for poor writing is perhaps fair, but she misses
      what's good in Oz, and what justifies the devotion of many child and adult
      readers--I'm also not sure she's reread more than the first Oz book since her
      childhood. As good as I think Pullman or Rowlings, I could make a case for the
      superiority of the Oz books on several grounds, though I think Pullman is a
      far-superior stylist (I could also argue the opposite, but my real point is that
      these kinds of comparisons do not seem to me very useful or productive--which is
      not to condemn all comparisons, by any means!). But among my list of writers there
      are many who far surpass the achievements of Rowlings, and arguably also many, if
      perhaps fewer, who've surpassed Pullman. Lewis is a harder case to match, but
      certainly on various grounds Lawson, L'Engle, Le Guin, Cameron, Yolen and at least
      some others could be said to match him in style and quantity and a comparable
      creation. Perhaps also Cooper. (One could argue that she was British, I suppose,
      as well as for McKinley, who now lives in England--but they produced their best
      work for children while living in the U.S).

      If anyone does reply, please share your comments with us!

      > David Bratman wrote:
      > Message: 7
      > Date: Thu, 28 Dec 2000 02:16:56 -0500 (EST)
      > From: "David S. Bratman" <dbratman@...>
      > Subject: CS Lewis vs. LF Baum
      > I find it regretable when critics decide to boost one of my favorite
      > authors by using him or her as a stick to beat another one of my favorite
      > authors with, but the resulting articles can be interesting to read.
      > Many of us, I suspect, will feel that way about a new article on Salon
      > using Narnia as a stick to beat Oz. It's by Laura Miller, and the
      > address is:
      > http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2000/12/28/baum/index.html
      > Here's one particularly hair-raising paragraph using Narnia as a stick to
      > beat everything else about Lewis with:
      > "We'll probably never see an annotated "The Lion, the Witch and the
      > Wardrobe" because the Christian elements in Lewis' work repel interesting
      > critics and scholars -- some of whom are still embarrassed about how much
      > they liked his books as kids. (Lewis scholarship exists, but it's a
      > hagiographic wasteland roamed by worshipful, third-rate Christian
      > academics who see his work as something close to divine revelation.)
      > Former fans often (mistakenly) dismiss his children's books as simple
      > religious allegories, and the well-earned reputation that Christians have
      > for smug proselytizing has tarnished much of Lewis' writing by
      > association."
      > Yikes!
      > - David Bratman
      > ________________________________________________________________________
      > ________________________________________________________________________


      David Lenander,

      e-mail: d-lena@... web-page: http://umn.edu/~d-lena/OnceUponATime.html
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