Re: [mythsoc] CS Lewis vs. LF Baum
> "This is British children's fantasy -- a far cry from the modest AmericanThis is the line that most irritated me. There is nothing wrong with
> talent who leads with a promise to dispense with all "disagreeable incident."
having some books that dispense with disagreeable incident, as long as
they're not all like that. Life can be fun and agreeable at times, and
even when it's not, why not read some occasionally? To criticize Baum
for this statement is awfully reminiscent of those who criticize all
fantasy for being escapist.
Besides, he didn't mean it quite that way - for all of the reviewer's
protests, there are moments of danger and doubt in Baum. He just wanted
to ensure he didn't scare his child-readers' wigs off. As a former child
who found the supposedly cutesy early Disney films terrifying (watch them
again sometime if you don't believe me), I think Baum had a worthy point
There is also, as DL noted, an implicit condemnation of all American
fantasy. I think the reviewer has been seduced by the British side of
the Force to the extent that she can not entirely appreciate the
distinctive qualities of characteristically American fantasy writing,
something which Baum (following hints from Hawthorne and Irving, in
particular) essentially invented, and which you can see such a different
writer as Tim Powers practicing today. A quick hit of Brian Attebery's
"The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature," particularly the chapter
on Baum, which fairly analyzes both his strengths and weaknesses, will
The reviewer praises Lewis's prose, which in Narnia I find variable, and
dismisses Baum's. It's hard not to suspect that she's looking down at
his fondness for puns.
- In a message dated 12/28/2000 11:21:21 PM Central Standard Time,
> It's hard not to suspect that she's looking down atShouldn't that be "looking down =on=," David? (speaking of prose)
> his fondness for puns.
As for the prose of Narnia, I think you have a point. Lewis =said= that
children's stories should be adapted for reading aloud, but there are long
double-jointed clauses and parentheses in many sentences in the CHRONICLES
which would, I think, be difficult to put across.
Last night was thinking about this article and felt that the impeachment of
American fantasy as more light-minded than British was unfair - does this
woman think that HARRY POTTER, or WILLY WONKA, have profound moral and
stylistic depths? Yah, right.
- This Salon article is featured on one of AOL's subscriber pages - a
miscellany called LIFE, The Lighter Side of News. Go figure.
This time the picture came up on the Salon page and it is the D***dest thing,
I don't even know what it's supposed to signify.
- Stolzi@... [Stolzi@...] wrote:
> This Salon article is featured on one of AOL's subscriber pages - aI would think it is Aslan punching out the Cowardly Lion, since as we know,
> miscellany called LIFE, The Lighter Side of News. Go figure.
> This time the picture came up on the Salon page and it is the D***dest thing,
> I don't even know what it's supposed to signify.
Narnia is so superior to Oz. Just ask the article's author. <g>
Matthew Winslow mwinslow@... http://x-real.firinn.org/
"When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and
Currently reading: Faith and Wealth by Justo Gonzalez
- For me, the interesting thing about the _Salon_ article is that it's just one
more piece of evidence that there are people there who think that fantasy is
just as important as mainstream fiction. There are certainly mistakes and
odd opinions in the article, but at least they are willing to discuss fantasy
(even children's fantasy) on the same level as other fiction. Remember,
_Salon_ is the magazine where they have a bunch of Tolkien fans.