Two book talks and a play
18 June 2021 | Kalimac’s Corner | David Bratman
Katherine Langrish also praised both Lewis and Tolkien for the sense they give “of the physicality of the world.” If you thrust a shovel into their landscape, there’d be real soil underneath, unlike some fantasy worlds which feel like you’d break through into empty air.…
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I had a very busy day online on Thursday. Besides a previously-scheduled Zoom meeting, I attended two online book talks and a play. It was useful to see how much of these I found it physically possible to sit through.
First, the University of Glasgow Centre for Fantasy held a Zoom interview with Katherine Langrish, a children’s author who’s written a book called From Spare Oom to War Drobe: Travels in Narnia with my nine year-old self . Immediately I thought of The Magician’s Book by Laura Miller, whose childhood Narnia fan was crushingly disillusioned by the books when older. Langrish isn’t like that. Though she says she has some criticisms, her talk suggested that her book is mostly about the greater appreciation adulthood brought, for instance realizing Lewis’s use of literary antecedents, e.g. Sir Gawain in The Silver Chair. (At which point someone in the chat mentioned looking forward to the upcoming movie of Sir Gawain and others replied, “There’s a movie?!” Yes indeed, and here’s the trailer. Looks a heck of a lot more authentic to the source than that Beowulf movie was.)
Langrish said some gratifying things. As a child she wrote Narnia fanfic, but gave it up because “I found that writing about Narnia wasn’t the same as reading about Narnia.” Yes! And this is why I have no interest in fanfic of my favorite worlds. She’s avoided movies of Narnia because she prefers the vivid pictures in her own head, another sensible reaction. I don’t understand people whose reaction to a vivid book scene is to want to see it depicted in a movie. Langrith also praised both Lewis and Tolkien for the sense they give “of the physicality of the world.” If you thrust a shovel into their landscape, there’d be real soil underneath, unlike some fantasy worlds which feel like you’d break through into empty air.
Unfortunately Langrith also had some gratuitous criticisms of Tolkien (as did Miller). She found The Hobbit condescending to the child reader where Narnia is not. Where Narnia is not? Really? She did see the Jackson films of The Lord of the Rings and thought they captured the book’s essence, which is ludicrous, and offense even to suggest; and worse, she thinks the negative responses were for leaving parts of the book out. No, no, no! It’s for the nonsense the films put in in its place.…
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