More _Fire and Hemlock_ (was: Re: Lion and Unicorn)

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at
Mon Sep 20 23:39:21 EDT 1999

On Mon, 20 Sep 1999 22:24:38 +0100, Hallie O'Donovan wrote:

>To-day Nat wrote:
>>I just finished reading the paper on Fire and Hemlock DWJ wrote in 1989,
>> To me the most exciting thing was seeing some of the other sources she
>>relied >on in making the book. TS Eliot...
>I am now in an even greater frenzy of impatience to get hold of that
>article!  When Melissa wrote some time ago that Nat might say "that wasn't
>what I meant you ninny" (I know the ninny part is right, if not the rest of
>it exactly), my immediate thought was that no one on the list would call
>someone a ninny, but they might say "That is not what I meant at all".

But I can, in an oblique way, call MYSELF a ninny.

That was not what I meant at all.  :) heehee.  Isn't Prufrock great?  But no
one appreciates when I lament "Do I dare to eat a peach?"  Barbarians.

And on a tangent to Fire and Hemlock--it was a rainy day yesterday, and I
pulled it out for something fun and good to read.  Found something really probably falls into the category of "did DWJ really intend
this or not?" but I'm betting on yes, myself.

The book, of course, begins with Polly reading the book that sets her trying
to figure out what really happened in the past, and also looking at her
photo of "Fire and Hemlock": (snipped a little for space considerations)

"There had been a time, some years back, when she had gazed at that picture
and thought it marvelous.  Dark figures had seemed to materialize out of its
dark center....There had been times when you could see the figures quite
clearly.  Other times, they had been shrouded in the rising smoke.  There
had even been a horse in it sometimes.  Not now.

"***Here, now,*** she could see it was simply a large color photograph..."

Interesting, no?  You could hardly get more Here Now than in the bizarre
forgetfulness created by Laurel.  And in Here Now the photo is just a photo,
instead of (my guess again) a barometer of how well Tan Coul was succeeding
in his battle to win free of Laurel....

(Other things come to mind when I read F&H, such as the fact that I
obviously have an American-standardized edition, and that no one else uses
the word "marvelous" in a way that conjures up the full powerful meaning
like DWJ.  I don't care that the ending is incredibly truncated--this is
still one of the most meaning-layered books I've ever read.)

Melissa Proffitt
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