this is gonna be weird

minnow at minnow at
Mon Nov 22 09:07:06 EST 2004

>In a message dated 11/21/04 7:09:37 PM Central Standard Time, Minnow writes:
>> I find it hard to imagine T.H. White sitting
>> reading TBoD in his fastness and his forties, though I suppose he might
>> have done.  Is he known to have been an enthusiastic reader of books for
>> children?

and Helen Schinske replied:
>You really really need to read the excellent biography of White by Sylvia
>Townsend Warner. White all but worshiped Masefield's _The Midnight Folk_, and
>would hardly have missed _The Box of Delights_ (I can't remember what he says
>about that specifically, though).

I have read it, but so long ago that I had forgotten most of it.  A few
vague impressions are left, as it were.  OK; in that case, I withdraw my
dubiety, and am quite happy to accept the suggestion that T.H. White was
using an idea he had found in a book he loved.

Mind you, I absolutely loved TMF as a child, but didn't think anything like
as much of TBoD, which I "discovered" and was disappointed by.  I always
felt that Masefield wrote TMF because it came bubbling up and he had to,
whereas he wrote TBoD because he had some good ideas and needed somewhere
to put them.  It felt as if the book got away from him and he was left
having to do the filthy "and then he woke up and it was all a dream" thing,
because he'd failed to keep the ideas under control and he knew that all
the kidnapped bishops business was too much for credibility (not to mention
the character of Little Maria, who simply doesn't wash at all: *nobody*
would have allowed a child of her age to play with pistols in the way she
does, so my disbelief was unsuspended from the moment she appeared).

Maybe T.H. White felt the same, and snitched the villains because he wanted
to do them properly!  :-)


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