Idle comments on fire and hemlock books.

sheeyun at ix.netcom.com sheeyun at ix.netcom.com
Wed Jul 21 09:44:36 EDT 1999


Masefield. The Box of Delights.

I generally think children’s books by poets worth a try, and this is no exception. It’s a 
strange, dreamy, unorganized novel with many lovely things in it. _The Midnight Folk_ is about 
the same little boy, and is similarly strange, dreamy, unorganized and interesting.

Goudge. Henrietta's House.

I hadn’t read this one when I first read _Fire and Hemlock_, but have since. I’m not a devotee 
of Goudge, and if I were I’d recommend _The Little White Horse_ before this one, which made me 
itch. 

Stowe. Uncle Tom's Cabin.

I found Jones’s use of this novel odd. You’ll recall that Tom asks Polly if she’s read it when 
she proposes calling him Uncle Tom, and when she reads it she understands that he wouldn’t want 
to be called that because Stowe’s Uncle Tom is a slave. She also identifies Leroy with the 
overseer Simon Legree. I like the Leroy/Legree thing. To my American/Canadian eyes, however, 
Jones’s use of “Uncle Tom” simply to suggest that Tom’s a slave is unnerving. The term “Uncle 
Tom” has come to be used to signify someone who colludes with his or her people’s oppressor.

Unknown to me. The Castle of Adventure. (*Probably* not sent by Tom.)

Do any of you know this?

Kipling. Kim.

Why’s this sent? The importance of memory? How a role as a spy gives rise to questions of 
identity?

Actually, the second parcel and subsequent ones puzzle me generally. So many “boy’s books”. 
Surely they aren’t just camouflage for the book of “fairy stories” and the _Oxford Book of 
Ballads_? Are they simply intended to suggest Danger and Suspense? 

Mind you, books in the first parcel seem to me intended primarily to accustom Polly to fantasy. 
I’ve supposed that they’re particular favourites of Jones’s. So perhaps the latter ones are as 
well?

Mary Ann

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