[DWJ] Monthly Read-Along - Howl's Moving Castle

Farah Mendlesohn farah.sf at gmail.com
Tue Jan 7 14:03:37 EST 2014

Screwball comedy should be thought of as a snowball rolling down a slope.
It starts small and slow, gathers momentum and consequence and ends in a
crash. Think of that moment at the end of Bringing Up Baby when the
dinosaur collapses.

I realised recently that it's the comedy version of the horror trajectory
(which starts small and distant, and gets more terrifying and closer).

The key thing is that the increase in pace is geometric rather than linear:
when you map the increasing speed, it's a curve.

That may of course not help at all.


On 7 January 2014 14:08, Jameela Lares <jameela.lares at usm.edu> wrote:

> I have heard before of the screwball structure--as in film, screwball
> comedy?--applied to fiction.  I am not sure how the structure affects the
> ending. Could you explain further?
> Jameela Lares
> Professor of English
> The University of Southern Mississippi
> 118 College Drive, #5037
> Hattiesburg, MS  39406-0001
> 601 266-4319 ofc
> 601 266-5757 fax
> ________________________________________
> From: dwj-bounces at suberic.net [dwj-bounces at suberic.net] on behalf of
> Farah Mendlesohn [farah.sf at gmail.com]
> Sent: Tuesday, January 07, 2014 3:06 AM
> To: Diana Wynne Jones discussion
> Subject: Re: [DWJ] Monthly Read-Along - Howl's Moving Castle
> On 7 January 2014 09:01, Kylie Ding <kylie_ding at hotmail.com> wrote:
> > Does anyone else feel that the ending of HMC is rushed?  Even though I've
> > read it quite a few times over the years it doesn't stick in my brain,
> and
> > this time I was trying to pinpoint what the problem was.
> They are all "rushed" in the sense that Jones has a preference for the
> Screwball structure. This often works well (think of the tumbling of the
> characters into the garden at the end of Charmed Life) but at other times
> it's all too Agatha Christie-ish and we all assemble in the drawing room
> (Conrad's Fate may be the worst).
> Farah
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