Freedom & Necessity (Was RE: Susan Cooper)

Courtney M Eckhardt cme at MIT.EDU
Sat Dec 11 01:25:09 EST 1999

>And, linking to the Dahl thread, I've always found his stuff
>"colder", too. I never want to re-read any of it. It's too
>cruel. Makes me want to help the characters realize that their
>real enemy, the person who's REALLY tormenting them, is their
>author. I have an urge to give them to Grant Morrison, who should
>be operating an "abused characters shelter" or something...
>I thought his "Coyote Gospels" story (in Animal Man, a comic book...)
>was absolutely brilliant. Wile E. Coyote finally tries to escape
>his frame of reference.
>One of the reasons I like DWJ's books is that her characters get
>themselves into trouble. It doesn't feel like the author is unfairly
>piling difficulties onto them. (Fair difficulties are great...)

I would have to disagree with the assertation that DWJ's characters
get themselves into trouble.  How about Vivian in Time City, or the
Kathleen in Dogsbody, or David in Eight Days of Luke?

I am one of those odd people who like Dahl... and in defense of his
work, I would like to refer you all to this quote from the 
second letter that DWJ sent to Deborah:

"As a child I had parents. They were worse than anything in my
books. If I put in anything out of my childhood, I always have to
reduce it to a tenth of what was actually true, because people
wouldn't otherwise find it credible. Example, my sister tied knots in
her hair to keep it out of her eyes. This was not noticed for more
than six months. Then I got the blame. In The Time of the Ghost I
found I had to reduce the six months to days or nobody would have
believed it."


I can relate to this- I also have parents that cannot be believed.
And I have met people who are as evil as some of his villains.  I
don't believe him to be artificially cruel or evil to his characters,
or to create unbelievable villains.  Compare Matilda's parents to
DWJ's parents, as she describes them in her autobiography.

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