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Oz vs. Narnia (revisited)

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  • David S. Bratman
    Salon has published letters in reply to the Oz vs. Narnia article of December 28th. The letters (and a link to the original article) are here:
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 10, 2001
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      Salon has published letters in reply to the Oz vs. Narnia article of
      December 28th. The letters (and a link to the original article) are here:

      http://www.salon.com/books/letters/2001/01/10/oz/index.html


      They didn't publish mine, so with apologies for repeating some of what I
      said before, here it is:


      I'm always sorry when someone feels obliged to use one of my favorite
      authors as a club with which to bash another one of my favorite authors.
      Ms. Miller's appreciation of Lewis's qualities is acute - though I find
      his prose in the Narnian books more variable than she does - but she
      seems deaf to what Baum was trying to accomplish.

      For one thing, there is nothing wrong with 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 fun stuff 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 Ms. Miller'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
      here.

      Ms. Miller implicitly condemns all American fantasy for Baum's faults.
      Even an author as stylistically similar to Baum as Edward Eager could be
      tough-minded enough not to deserve these objections; and many recent
      American children's fantasists - Ursula K. Le Guin and Jane Yolen, to
      name just two of very many - do not have any of the characteristic
      American "smell" of gadgetry and engineering that is sometimes so
      offputting to readers weaned on British fantasy.

      Some classic British fantasy is subject to Ms. Miller's strictures as
      well. A.A. Milne's Pooh books are "safe," reassuring, and purged of the
      disagreeable to the point that they make many readers' teeth ache.

      Not mine - but then I like Baum too.

      David Bratman
    • Trudy Shaw
      The first movie I ever went to was Disney s Snow White, when I was 3 years old. I refused to go, until my mother told me I could duck down behind the seat in
      Message 2 of 2 , Jan 11, 2001
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        The first movie I ever went to was Disney's Snow White, when I was 3 years old. I refused to go, until my mother told me I could duck down behind the seat in front of me whenever the witch came on screen.

        The House at Pooh Corner was one of the first (possibly *the* first) book I ever read; I was too young to have my own library card, so used to check things out using my mother's card. I still find the stories reassuring--sometimes adults need that at least as much as kids. I've become a real Eeyore fan; from this side of several years of therapy and 12-step groups, his dialogue is hilarious; Milne had low-self-esteem, dysthymic, passive-aggressive thinking down cold. But, reassuringly, Eeyore's friends still love him (and he's a great self-check: "I don't sound like *that*, do I?")

        -- Trudy Shaw

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: David S. Bratman
        To: mythsoc@egroups.com
        Sent: Wednesday, January 10, 2001 11:50 PM
        Subject: [mythsoc] Oz vs. Narnia (revisited)


        ...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
        here.

        ...Some classic British fantasy is subject to Ms. Miller's strictures as
        well. A.A. Milne's Pooh books are "safe," reassuring, and purged of the
        disagreeable to the point that they make many readers' teeth ache.

        Not mine - but then I like Baum too.

        David Bratman


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