: [Fwd: Bullying, DWJ, and Harry Potter...]

Charles Butler hannibal at thegates.fsbusiness.co.uk
Sun Feb 2 09:23:52 EST 2003

> Howl doesn't fit on teams, does he? Unless you count the team of
> himself and Calcifer, which is as damaging as it is beneficial to
> both of them.

There's also his old university rugby team, I suppose....

At the risk of annoying Sally with a mention of Roal Dahl, there are the
complementary thin/fat nastinesses of Aunts Spiker and Sponge in the James
and the Giant Peach. Though fatness is often associated with indolence and
laziness, it can occasionally denote - paradoxically - great power and
energy. Think of Wilkie Collins's Count Fosco, or Thursday in Chesterton's
The Man Who was Thursday. And in DWJ, isn't Dr Wilander a bit on the tubby
side? Or is that a false memory?

Happy slaves:
It's a wide-open worm can, all right. But then, so much fantasy buys in
unquestioningly into the idea that some are born to rule and others to serve
(in a way which few of its writers or readers would promote in real life),
by seeming to advocate - amongst other things - absolute monarchy. From
Narnia to Prydain to Middle-Earth to Earthsea, no fantasy society seems to
be well-adjusted without a true-born king sitting on a throne and wielding
total power. No constitutional monarchies these! Let alone democracies....
And their subjects can really only be described as happy slaves. It's a
feature of fantasy writing that's bugged me for ages. I haven't read the
Dalemarks (partly for fear of what I might find...) so can't comment on
whether DWJ does it there, but she always strikes me as pretty hardheaded
about power and willing to talk about it realistically. And she does explore
different forms of power, with  a particular penchant for committees, I
think (the Reigners, the Upper Room, the Time City lot), and a sense that
the existing arrangements are only ever provisional.


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