Lured by the promise of its intriguing frontispiece, I’ve lately been reading Communion Town: A City in Ten Chapters by Sam Thompson.  One of my favorite stories so far is found in Chapter VII, “The Significant City of Lazarus Glass”, a cozy little gothic homage to Conan Doyle.  As the mystery unfolds, a number of previously solved cases are (imaginatively) named:

  • the Theft of the Paper Orchid
  • the affair of the Nightmare Gallery
  • the sanguinary chronicle of the Revenge of the Trelawneys
  • the Riddle in Brass
  • the case of the Apples of Madness
  • the affair of the Chanting Leopard
  • the case of the Liars’ League
  • the matter of the Doubting Child
  • the case of the Double Sun
  • the case of the Ship in the Mirror
  • the affair of the Green December
  • the case of the Demolitionist’s Song
  • the case of the Stolen Shadow

…and now, of course, I want to read all of these too. 

ayjay

Any reasonable ordering of the books must have The Last Battle as the final story, and must place Prince Caspian before The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader,’ since the latter is very straightforwardly a sequel to the former. Also, The Silver Chair cannot come before either of those books, since one of its main characters, Eustace, appears in Dawn Treader as a younger and very different sort of person from the one he is in The Silver Chair. Moreover, readers of the series will probably agree that The Horse and His Boy, being a largely self-contained story with minimal connections to the others - it is mentioned briefly in The Silver Chair, and the Pevensies appear in it briefly as rulers of Narnia - could be stuck into the sequence anywhere except the beginning and end. So the dispute really concerns only one question: should the sequence begin with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe or The Magician’s Nephew?

The argument for The Magician’s Nephew is simple: since it describes Aslan’s making of Narnia, placing it at the beginning yields a biblical, Creation-to-Apocalypse arc for the series. The case for The Lion is more complex and much stronger. First of all, though Lewis spoke of altering the order of the books, he also spoke of needing to revise the books in order to remove inconsistencies - and if Nephew is read first, there will be many such inconsistencies. For one thing, we are told quite explicitly at the end of The Lion that its narrative is ‘the beginning of the adventures of Narnia’. For another, Lewis tells his readers that the children in The Lion do not know who Aslan is ‘any more than you do’; but of course the readers would know Aslan if they had already read Nephew. Moreover, much of the suspense in the early chapters of The Lion derives from our inability to understand what is happening in the magical wardrobe - but if we have read Nephew we will know all about the wardrobe, and that part of the story will become, effectively, pointless. Similarly, one of the delights of The Lion is the inexplicable presence of a lamp-post in the midst of a forest - a very familiar object from our world standing curiously in the midst of an utterly different world - and one of the delights of Nephew is the unexpected discovery of how that lamp-post got there. Anyone who begins with Nephew will lose that small but intense pleasure, the frisson of one of Lewis’s richest images.

If Lewis really and truly thought that the series was best begun with The Magician’s Nephew, he was simply mistaken. The original order of publication is the best for any reader wishing to enter Narnia.

Alan Jacobs, “The Chronicles of Narnia,” in The Cambridge Companion to C. S. Lewis. (via giftsoutright)

Quite.

shrinkinglibrarian
In Greek, whose color lexicon did not stabilize for many centuries, the words most commonly used for blue are glaukos and kyaneos. The latter probably referred originally to a mineral or a metal; it has a foreign root and its meaning often shifted. During the Homeric period it denoted both the bright blue of the iris and the black of funeral garments, but never the blue of the sky or sea. An analysis of Homer’s poetry shows that out of sixty adjectives describing elements and landscapes in the Iliad and Odyssey, only three are color terms, while those evoking light effects are quite numerous. During the classical era, kyaneos meant a dark color: deep blue, violet, brown, and black. In fact, it evokes more the “feeling” of the color than its actual hue. The term glaukos, which existed in the Archaic period and was much used by Homer, can refer to gray, blue, and sometimes even yellow or brown. Rather than denoting a particular color, it expresses the idea of a color’s feebleness or weak concentration. For this reason it is used to describe the color of water, eyes, leaves, or honey.

Michel Pastoureau, Blue: The History of a Color (via epanistamai)   artsfartsunicornhearts (via glitterpissed)

This is important. 

(via momateens)

shrinkinglibrarian
myimaginarybrooklyn:

comicbookcovers:
Strange Adventures #75, December 1956, cover by Gil Kane and Bernard Sachs
Sometimes, people ask me why I like comics books.
This is a cover
of a gorilla,
robbing a librarian,
at gunpoint,
for Moby Dick, Robinson Crusoe, and Treasure Island,
for the purposes of conquering the world.
What’s not to love?

Also, he uses the word “valise”.

myimaginarybrooklyn:

comicbookcovers:

Strange Adventures #75, December 1956, cover by Gil Kane and Bernard Sachs

Sometimes, people ask me why I like comics books.

This is a cover

of a gorilla,

robbing a librarian,

at gunpoint,

for Moby Dick, Robinson Crusoe, and Treasure Island,

for the purposes of conquering the world.

What’s not to love?

Also, he uses the word “valise”.

I was in China in 2007, at the first party-approved science fiction and fantasy convention in Chinese history. And at one point I took a top official aside and asked him Why? SF had been disapproved of for a long time. What had changed?

It’s simple, he told me. The Chinese were brilliant at making things if other people brought them the plans. But they did not innovate and they did not invent. They did not imagine. So they sent a delegation to the US, to Apple, to Microsoft, to Google, and they asked the people there who were inventing the future about themselves. And they found that all of them had read science fiction when they were boys or girls.

Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you’ve never been. Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.

ayjay
But this bombardment you’re talking about, that’s a choice you make. If you’re interested by a piece of music, you can miss the next twenty new pieces of music that’re fishing for your attention and just focus on that one. It’s really all right. You can just ignore all the big-ticket releases and focus on Jandek’s 9-disc solo piano set for half a year and that’s a totally valid decision. You can take a year to just listen to opera: that was me most of last year, opera and old Silkworm albums. Did I miss something? Maybe; who cares? What I had was not just fine but completely amazing, and I can catch up with anything I missed later, if I want to, and if I don’t, that’s cool too. Being on top of stuff, having an opinion about something when it’s new, this is just not a priority for me at all. Music is eternal, I don’t need to experience it as part of a news cycle.

John Darnielle (via ayjay)

True for music, true for books, true for movies.  There’s a balance between keeping up & digging in.