Writers conferences and the like

Charles Butler hannibal at thegates.fsbusiness.co.uk
Fri Oct 3 04:31:48 EDT 2003

> I'm still resenting stories from childhood that ended with words to the
> effect "and then s/he woke up and it had all been a dream" (Masefield's
> *Box of Delights* particularly)

I thought Alan Garner was interesting on this in his Elimae interview:

"John Masefield showed children what others would not allow: that adults
could be dangerous (two of the worst were dressed as clergymen; another was
a female teacher); that bullies did not always run when confronted; that
death was likely at any age; that terror was real and could be creative and
constructive (which horror can't be); and that happy endings were not
automatic. In this last instance, the text of the novel shows interference,
or capitulation. The end, as Masefield wrote it, has the inevitable and
positive resolution of a symphony. Then there is tacked on a clumsy
paragraph, where the main child protagonist wakes up in the railway carriage
where the story begins, and it has all been a dream. Oh no it has not. I was
seven years old when I first read it, and I KNEW. I don't have the facts,
but the received literary opinion is that the publisher got cold feet and
insisted on the addition. Others, more interestingly, say that it was
Masefield's wife who added the paragraph. But I knew it was no dream and
that everything in it was possible -- indeed, likely."

, not to mention the wizard kindly taking
> away everyone's memories of what had happened so that they wouldn't be
> upset by it in later life -- I always wanted to know how, in that case,
> anyone had known the story to write it down.

The narrator is presumably also a wizard. I do wonder, though, how the
ordinary characters account for the consequent gaps in their memories, which
in the case of the Dark is Rising (I suspect that's one of works you've got
your sights on?) includes most of the last few school holidays. Perhaps they
think they're going mad?


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