". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Chronicles of Prydain -- Best Fantasy Series for the Youth? What About the Animal Heroes?

     . . . . Chronicles of Prydain -- Best Fantasy Series ever?  But is it? 

Is it the very best? -- this person passionately believes it is; at Vox News he tells us that he so much believes it true that he writes to tell us this news every year or so.  Read all about it here

I had all the Prydain books, but they never grabbed me.  I can hardly remember anything about them now.  Perhaps I was already too old when I encountered them in high school? I certainly don't have them on my shelves now, though Winnie-the-Pooh and many other books of fantasy and whimsy, with a sort of non-adult flavor remain. 

Also, the guy writing this is a -- guy, who lurves it that the Hero is a another young guy. That might have kept me from truly rolling with it, perhaps? though the guy-centeredness of so many other books and series never interfered with my passionate attachment to them, from The Black Stallion, his boy, Alec, to Lad, A Dog (see - Lad, another guy!), to LotR, not to mention some of my beloved Zane Greys, and many others -- even Pooh! 

Or -- maybe -- because I was living on a farm, I just knew too much about pigs to suspend my disbelief (always have had some trouble with Charlotte's Web re that).

I loved animal books -- which no longer seem to be written.  Did the Youth lose interest in animal protagonists?  Or was it just the publishing industry?  Anyway, I read every single one that came my way, many of them over and over and over, like the Black Stallion books and the Bambi Books, and Lassie Come Home

I received at least one of that sort of book every Christmas from each set of grandparents and from Mom and Dad.  So that was three books at least every Christmas!

I sobbed every time at the deaths of the animal protagonists in the books I re-read so avidly -- Ginger the rebel / bad slave in Black Beauty, Joe in Beautiful Joe, you name a death and I cried. Albert Payson Terhune's Lad, A Dog (1919), provoked particularly copious tears. Once it happened that I was reading his death while in school (the one-room country school house). The entire room including the teacher were aghast -- what ever could be happening to me? No one could understand how I could weep over a dog, dying, in a book!

I loved all the Terhune books. It wasn't only the canine principals that had me re-reading them constantly though. It was the setting. It was an exotic world, a magical one, as much as any fantasy world I might encounter later (those books weren't around anywhere when I was growing up). The Master and the Mistress, the kingdom of Sunnybank -- which I later learned was in New Jersey, He and She could drive into unknowable NYC for dog shows -- all this was as foreign and unknowable as the moon. This dimmish, but constant background kingdom of Sunnybank that cast a spell as irresistable as any of a fantasy novel. Sunnybank was ruled by Him, to whom Lad owed all his service and loyalty, and Her, who in turn ruled Him, and whom Lad adored in all humility and to whom his devotion was entire -- and that had that inexplicable thing -- servants! who even served the dogs.  Thus dogs' lives and hierarchy reflected perfectly this perfect feudal world, with impeccable class system -- a creation of the plutocratic, bloated Gilded Age. 

I was too unsophisticated and ignorant to recognize it for the class system that the Terhune books celebrated at the time. So every aspect of this strange world so far away in both time and space fascinated and enthralled me, those times that so-called 'real world' penetrated the world of the characters -- characters that could not have existed without that upper, non-understood plane of Master and Mistress / Him and Her ruling that world.

I'm not sure I'm recollecting exactly how the owners of Sunnybank were called in Lad's mind -- but it was something like that. What I do recollect clearly was how much I liked the dogs having real names, as -- to my mind -- being the significant ones -- while the human beings were -- to my child mind -- peripheral.

Too bad the world isn't really run that way, the non-human world at the center, and we hooman beans the side-bar.

No comments: