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Re: Zhivago / Fionavar / Green Angel Tower WAS Re: [mythsoc] Not finishing books, was famfic

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  • Ernest Tomlinson
    ... From: Elizabeth Apgar Triano To: Sent: Friday, February 28, 2003 3:24 AM Subject: Zhivago /
    Message 1 of 3 , Mar 3, 2003
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      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Elizabeth Apgar Triano" <lizziewriter@...>
      To: <mythsoc@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Friday, February 28, 2003 3:24 AM
      Subject: Zhivago / Fionavar / Green Angel Tower WAS Re: [mythsoc] Not
      finishing books, was famfic


      > Let's see.... I think that _Dr Zhivago_ was one of my dad's favorite
      > books, to the point that he felt of the movie as I do of hte LOTR movies..
      > how can they possibly... ? Except that he felt they succeeded (with the
      > movie).

      I haven't read the Pasternak novel myself, although it's on my list (so I
      should get to it sometime in 2007, at the rate I'm going.) Ebert calls it
      dated and probably he's right.

      > From the descriptions of the sex in _Tigana_ I suspect I won't
      > even realize they are sex scenes.

      Oh, you'll know. Whether they're _sexy_ sex scenes is another question
      entirely. I must admit that, except in weak moments, I'm of the school that
      prefers sex scenes to read something like this: "Afterwards..."

      > As for the cliches... I will have to read the Fionavar books now. What is
      > the difference between cliches and their opposite? complement?

      That is an excellent question. People like me toss "cliche" around as a
      pejorative without thinking too much about what it means. One can start by
      saying that a cliche is a literary or filmic device too often repeated, but
      certainly _repetition_ isn't all that makes a cliche; otherwise every trick
      of the trade would be cliched. I think what makes a cliche is its
      superficiality. A cliche always is a shortcut to conveying an moral or
      emotional depth that the author or filmmaker is either too lazy or not
      competent enough to get across in a better way. Take, for example, the
      device of setting an emotional confrontation between two lovers in a sudden
      rainstorm. We're supposed to accept that rain as a substitute for the
      writing or acting that ought to be telling us about the lovers' stormy
      emotions.

      If cliches have an opposite, it is in writing and cinema that seems innocent
      and even trivial on the surface yet reveals great depths on inspection and
      rereading. To pick an example from (what else?) _The Lord of the Rings_,
      take the scene on Weathertop when Strider, asked to pass the time by singing
      a song or reading a poem, retells part of the Lay of Leithian, Beren's and
      Luthien's story. On the surface it's just another story of olden times,
      like so many others in the LotR, but the attentive reader notices Strider's
      absorption in his own storytelling, and only after reading the whole story
      do we realize that it was _his_ story he was telling. There's hidden depth
      for you!

      > That was one of
      > my complaints with the Green Angel Tower books... the world was so close
      to
      > mythical Europe. The various nations (names, religions, etc.) could
      almost
      > be shadow-copies of different European cultures.

      Yup. Like Turtledove's thinly disguised gloss on Byzantine Greece in the
      Misplaced Legion stories, or Guy Kay's gloss on various European cultures in
      his books, or Jo Walton's (sorry, Jo) gloss on post-Roman Britain in _The
      King's Peace_. Some people lap that stuff up, and I suppose there's a
      melancholy pleasure to be derived from picking out the correspondences, but
      I think it's a sign either of laziness or cowardice: the author either
      couldn't think up a fully realized fictional universe of his own so had to
      turn to someone else's, or the author actually wanted to say something about
      the real Christianize Britain (or whatever) but felt that it was safer to
      allegorize and disguise the real intent of the story.

      Cheers,

      Ernest.
    • Elizabeth Apgar Triano
      I haven t read the Pasternak novel myself, although it s on my list (so I should get to it sometime in 2007, at the rate I m going.) Ebert calls it dated and
      Message 2 of 3 , Mar 4, 2003
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        I haven't read the Pasternak novel myself, although it's on my list (so I
        should get to it sometime in 2007, at the rate I'm going.) Ebert calls it
        dated and probably he's right. >>

        But we can still enjoy things that are "dated." In fact we can, in some
        cases and I"m not saying this is one, use them to recall ourselves to our
        senses.

        >Oh, you'll know. Whether they're _sexy_ sex scenes is another question
        entirely. I must admit that, except in weak moments, I'm of the school that
        prefers sex scenes to read something like this: "Afterwards..." >

        Depends. Sometimes I like the "afterwards" or even the .... realizes
        chapters later that the two had become closer than just friends. Other
        times, well.... I like the ones that burn through my nervous system,
        especially unexpectedly. Like Daniel Keyes Moran's one scene in _The Last
        Dancer_. (This may be one of the books he doesn't use his middle name, I
        can't recall).

        > That is an excellent question. People like me toss "cliche" around as a
        pejorative without thinking too much about what it means. One can start by
        saying that a cliche is a literary or filmic device too often repeated, but
        certainly _repetition_ isn't all that makes a cliche; otherwise every trick
        of the trade would be cliched. I think what makes a cliche is its
        superficiality. A cliche always is a shortcut to conveying an moral or
        emotional depth that the author or filmmaker is either too lazy or not
        competent enough to get across in a better way. >

        OK. Or something we've just heard too often and want to scream. Like,
        (when a longsword is in use), "split like a ripe melon".

        << Take, for example, the device of setting an emotional confrontation
        between two lovers in a sudden rainstorm. We're supposed to accept that
        rain as a substitute for the writing or acting that ought to be telling us
        about the lovers' stormy
        emotions. >

        Oh. And I thought it was just an overdose of sensory stimuli. The rain
        and the smell of the weather I mean. Like mood music. Then again, there
        is a storm scene in Dirty Dancing.

        << If cliches have an opposite, it is in writing and cinema that seems
        innocent and even trivial on the surface yet reveals great depths on
        inspection and rereading. To pick an example from (what else?) _The Lord of
        the Rings_, take the scene on Weathertop when Strider, asked to pass the
        time by singing a song or reading a poem, retells part of the Lay of
        Leithian, Beren's and Luthien's story. On the surface it's just another
        story of olden times, like so many others in the LotR, but the attentive
        reader notices Strider's absorption in his own storytelling, and only after
        reading the whole story do we realize that it was _his_ story he was
        telling. There's hidden depth for you! >>

        Cool, I will have to go look at that. I like these double-entendres.

        > Yup. Like Turtledove's thinly disguised gloss on Byzantine Greece in the
        Misplaced Legion stories, or Guy Kay's gloss on various European cultures
        in his books, or Jo Walton's (sorry, Jo) gloss on post-Roman Britain in
        _The King's Peace_. Some people lap that stuff up, and I suppose there's a
        melancholy pleasure to be derived from picking out the correspondences, but
        I think it's a sign either of laziness or cowardice: t he author either
        couldn't think up a fully realized fictional universe of his own so had to
        turn to someone else's, or the author actually wanted to say something
        about the real Christianize Britain (or whatever) but felt that it was
        safer to allegorize and disguise the real intent of the story. >

        Or the matiere (is that the right word?) is just so beyond popular, it is
        irresistable and we never tire of it. I don't think that is always a
        failure. Sometimes the failure is in execution. Or just a matter of not
        the right reader for the book. Was true in Chretien de Troye's day and
        it's true in ours.

        Lizzie Triano
        lizziewriter@...
        amor vincit omnia
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