Cooper

JOdel at aol.com JOdel at aol.com
Fri Dec 3 19:22:25 EST 1999


In a message dated 12/2/99 2:54:17 PM, pburch at bcm.tmc.edu writes:

<< I read only one volume of this series - only the first few chapters - 
and could not even finish it because it was so tiresome, so portentious,
above all so humorless... >>

That portentiousness was typical of most the fantasy novels which academics 
who did not have any authentic interest in fantasy always seemed to believe 
was representitive of "good" examples of the genre. The thing to try to 
remember is that when The Dark is Rising was first published it seemed 
amazingly fresh and different from the general run of the rest of the field. 
And it WAS using a more overtly mythic structure and range than had been 
typical. The first book in the series Over Sea, Under Stone was much more in 
keeping with the general run of kiddie lit of the day-- and I suspect may be 
a rather more enduring story for it. 

What was so seductive about DARK is that an adolescent or young adult who had 
been  exploring the roots of myth in their schoolwork could easily recognize 
the myths being incorporated into the fabric of the tale, as elements which 
were being USED by an ongoing story, without having the story deteriorate 
into yet another pale retelling of the original myth.

What was less noticable, until it was pointed out, was the underlying 
immorality of the treatment of the "normal" characters by the so-called "good 
guys". In particular, these self-proclaimed guardians seem to think nothing 
of casually rearanging peoples' memories to suit their own determination of 
what will best serve their purposes. Obviously, the ends justified the means 
in their worldview. Which outlook I summarized not all that much later as 
being representitive of "typical cold-war thinking". Which it was, of course. 
The young Cooper being an extremely political writer, and one very much of 
her time.

BTW, has anyone else noticed how much of the atmosphere of DARK seems to have 
been lifted wholesale from (John) Masefield's The Box of Delights? That and 
his earlier The Midnight Folk are a couple of bizarre books if there ever 
were such! But he has some very interesting bits and pieces scattered through 
them. I"m pretty sure they date from the '20s or '30s.

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