Fire and Hemlock (SPOILERS)

Ika blake at
Fri Jun 4 04:56:46 EDT 2004

Charlie wrote:

> When C.S. Lewis described his disagreement with Leavis over Paradise Lost,
> he said that it wasn't so much that they had different ideas about what
> the
> poem was or did, as that Lewis saw and loved what Leavis saw and hated.
> I'm feeling a bit like that with you and F&H, Ika!

:) Good (I think)! I certainly hope I'm not coming across like I'm trying
to win an argument about whether F&H is a good book or a bad book, or to
make anyone change their mind about liking it - I'm mostly just hoping
that the things I post might provoke people to post other things, which
will turn the book round for me to see it from another angle. Your post is
a great example of that - apologies for snipping your very lovely and
persuasive post about how

> wave-particle duality substitute magic-mundane duality.)  F&H shows
> me as few other books do what experiencing such a universe is
> actually like:

... damn. I was going to read some books for work on the train today, but
it looks like I'll be back on F&H now, trying to read the version of it
you have (I think I might have the version from the other reality, with
the not-as-good stories :)).

I just had one more thing to add, though, which I suspect might actually
get to the heart of the quarrel I have with F&H - Jenny and I were talking
about it (on a train journey last weekend) and she pointed out that F&H
(and possibly Deep Secret, which might explain why that's another of my
least favourite books) is/are the only DWJ book(s) where the mundane world
is *less interesting* than the magical one. Think of 8 Days of Luke
(another real world/magical world interface) - Luke *likes* Astrid and
David and wants to stay with them; the mundane-world characters are all as
interesting (and some of them are as sympathetic) as the gods. I think
this might be part of what I was getting at when I kept saying, rather
incoherently, that there was a "rigid separation" between Nowhere and
Now-Here in F&H. I'm mostly more interested in the mundane characters in
F&H - I *love* Ivy and Reg and Nina, and I would love Fiona though I think
she's oddly undercharacterized for a DWJ person - and I feel like none of
those plots or relationships are really resolved in anything like the way
the magical Tam Lin plot is.

That's sort of the feeling I've been getting from some of the posts on
this issue - Polly having to deal with the "drab" explanations that other
people have for magic, Nina not getting magic because she's too
closed-minded or conventional - so I suspect this gets at another
fundamental difference of taste. Maybe I like DWJ because she doesn't
usually say that magic is better or more interesting than reality, so I
think F&H and DS are flawed and oddly non-DWJ books, whereas other people
like her because her magic *is* better and more interesting than reality,
so F&H and DS seem like the best examples of that...

Love, Ika

"Isto was not legal. This is confused. I could make melhor" - Diana Wynne
Jones on TV, as translated from the Portugese by babelfish
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