Saturday, 2 February 2013

The selfish giant, snobbery and research

Afternoon folks, I’ve just arrived back from a university tutorial where we discussed the importance of place in relation to Pearce’s ‘Tom’s Midnight Garden’, Hodgson Burnett’s ‘The Secret Garden’ and Ramsone’s ‘Swallows and Amazons’. Today, I’ve come away giggling at how snobbish and opinionated some can be regards literature. I am studying children’s literature so have had to reread many of the classics, which has been a delight, but every tutorial the same few students make fools of themselves by trying to convince the rest of us that their ‘high brow opinion’ is the only opinion to be reasonably upheld. No. I will argue for Blyton, Dahl, Pearce, Rowling and Pullman in just the same way that I will argue for Dickens, Stevenson, Aulcot, Bronte and Swift. Each author crafted the book that they wished, or were able, to create in their era – I’m sure they didn’t try to preempt your closed mind in relation to their setting, language, plot line and characters. It seem to be fashionable to be the person who disagrees with anything pleasurable to come out of children’s literature. Enjoy it for what it is, a children’s book. I personally, just take delight if a child has a book open and is reading – don’t lecture them on that too.

So, my week has been very quiet - I haven’t had any writers’ meetings. I have literally spent the week studying, mentioned above, or reading Rowling’s ‘The Casual Vacancy’ - which I finished last night. I must say, I enjoyed it. I know a female colleague at work gave up on the book last week as she didn’t like any of the characters and couldn’t stand the grimness of the plot. I agreed with her, I didn’t like the characters either, but I could appreciate that maybe I wasn’t meant to like them. Yes, the subject is grim, but hey I wanted to know what happened to the community. Several times this morning my mind has flicked back through the characters and the ending – I’m satisfied. This was my Christmas read that has taken a lot longer than I had anticipated, but as I mentioned earlier I do have course/study books as well as reading books.

My next reading book is Ness’ ‘The Monster Call’ which won the Carnegie medal for children’s literature. But, my main reading book at the mo has to be… Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ which celebrated 200 years of publication last Monday, 28th January. I plucked it from the bookcase on Sunday evening in preparation of Monday evening, when I curled beneath a fleece and drifted back to the Georgian era. If you haven’t read it, why not?

I re-watched the film ‘Wilde’ this week, as hubby had never sent it before. In a moment of inspiration I downloaded Wilde’s short stories and discovered that he had written two stories ‘The Happy Prince’ and ‘The selfish giant’, that I remember from my childhood. Both stories were shown in animation form on BBC2 – so I was delighted to discover a little bit of his magic had lodged in my memory.

Writing wise, I have had to spend time researching certain field sports, so have spent my free time in the library. My aim is week is to produce more chapters having had a research week.

Remember you can always follow me on Twitter @odwyer_author – enjoy!

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