Wilkins' Tooth (was Re: Introductions)

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Tue Jun 24 09:40:56 EDT 2003

Jennifer Rowland wrote:

>Minnow wrote:
>> I'd suggest one that doesn't have too many references to
>> things she may not yet have encountered: <snip> the
>> Homeward Bounders is improved by having some idea who
>> Prometheus is -- for instance.  And Howl has all the
>> John Donnery...
>I agree with the basic point, but disagree about Howl- I'd never heard of
>Donne when I read it. (I went out and found his Collected Poems after I read
>Howl, in fact.) The bit that's integral to the plot, the poem/curse, is
>explained, and the others are little fun references that you catch if you
>know the poems.

How did you get on with Donne at that point?  :-)  I suspect that the idea
she got someone reading and enjoying his work would make DWJ get a happy

>I also reckon that once someone has got hooked on dwj ;-) a book with
>references they don't understand might be OK- you have to hear of the Norse
>gods first *some*where, and why not as a result of reading 8DoL? Didn't She
>Herself say that children mind less about not getting things than adults,
>because they quite often don't get things, and they read the bits they do
>get more attentively? (Rhetorical question, but also not, that is, I think I
>remember reading something like that somewhere, but ICBW.)

This is all true and I tend to agree; but I was trying to think about a
first-book to give to a ten-year-old who doesn't yet know her work, and for
that purpose I thought possibly less referential might be better.  I mean,
*everything* DWJ writes is informed by her own wide knowledge of what came
before it -- she *knows a lot of stuff*, and it gets in at the edges all
over the place, that's part of her appeal -- but some depend more on
recognising bits than others do.

I think she does say pretty-much what you've put there about children not
minding if stuff goes over their heads.  I can't remember where I read it,
either, but I'm sure it has come up in an interview.... (at this point
Charlie will probably put his head over the parapet and tell us he's
feeling slighted...)


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