Ambiguous nature & Good lit

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at
Tue Jul 20 19:23:31 EDT 1999

I think I'm going to have to join right in here, without proper intro or
anything.  I'd promised myself to try to read all the archives before
posting, to avoid saying something horribly repetetive, but I was only up
to page 4 and found the site had disappeared yesterday.  I apologize in
advance, but can't bear not joining in.  This list is too interesting!

On Mon. 19 July, Nat Case wrote:
> The ambiguous
>nature of Faerie is still a very true source of story: one wishes aesthetic
>beauty and comfort, but it ALWAYS comes with a price, no matter what the
>salesperson on her silver-trimmed horse tries to tell you.

 I know quite a few people on the list have read _The Perilous Gard_, and I
think one of the (many) things I loved about the book was Kate's ambiguity
of feeling towards The People Under the Hill and The Lady. She has no
ambiguity at all about resisting them and their plans, and yet, maybe, it
is her very understanding that the easy route ALWAYS has too high a price,
which forms the basis of Kate's and the Lady's eventual mutual respect.
Kate's realization of the price paid by Randal is never glossed-over, or
made easy, despite her admiration for many of the ways of The Lady and her

I know I'm going to tread on some toes here, but I cannot see  a similar
value to Pamela Dean's _Tam Lin_ as an equal to F & H.  I liked a lot of
elements in it - the ghosts, the love of literature, but somehow, it just
isn't in the same class for me.

On Wed. 14 July,  Irina Rempt-Drijfhout wrote:
>One that makes my mind expand (leaves it larger, with more in it and
>more room for other things as well), and that I can live in in my

 Maybe this points to part of the problem with Tam Lin for me.   I liked
the ideas Dean played around with (especially the choice of a college
campus as a place to spend a few hundred years in touch with everything -
though she certainly didn't go to MY Uni.!), but you have to be able to
live in the characters as well, and I didn't feel very expanded by living
in these characters for a time.  Quite the opposite.  And lets face it -
worrying about getting pregnant may well have been the over-riding concern
for many throughout college, but contraceptive worries don't make for
riveting reading.

Polly (F & H), at the worst of her adolescent self-absorption, was a far
more likeable person than anyone in Tam Lin.  And Granny!  (My favourite
line from her has to be: "I must say I like that Janet, even though she was
no better than she should be").

I'd better finish now before I start addressing too many other interesting
topics I've seen raised here.


Hallie O'Donovan (hallieod at

The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley
--'To a Mouse,' Robert Burns

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