Sunday, March 3, 2013

DWJ March: Reflections on Sunday


For this first Reflections post, I would like to start with Neil Gaiman's Foreword and Charlie Butler's Reflections on Reflections. Both of these pieces are wonderful from start to finish but I'll just pull out a couple of passages that really stood out as I read them.

On Diana herself:
"She does not describe herself in this book, so I shall describe her for you: she had a shock of curly, dark hair and, much of the time, a smile, which ranged from easygoing and content to a broad whorl of delight, the smile of someone who was enjoying herself enormously. She laughed a lot, too, the easy laugh of someone who thought the world was funny and filled with interesting things, and she would laugh at her own anecdotes, in the way of someone who had simply not stopped finding what she was going to tell you funny." -- Neil Gaiman
On Diana's range of writing:
"Diana wrote books for young children, for older children, and for adults. She wrote picture books, chapter books, full-length novels, poetry, plays, and non-fiction. She wrote fantasy, science fiction, romance, farce, and satire; and she wrote books that looped the loop, refusing to be confined within any generic box. She could handle outrageous comedy, but also turn on a sixpence and evoke subtle shades of desire, grief, loneliness, bliss, and love, and do so in prose that never strove to draw attention to its own virtuosity." -- Charlie Butler
On reading Diana as an adult:
"I am a handful of years too old to have read Diana's books as a boy. I wish I had--she would have been one of those people who formed the way I saw the world, the way I thought about it and perceived it. Instead, reading her, it felt familiar, and when, in my twenties, I read all of Diana's books that I could find, it felt like I was coming home." --Neil Gaiman
"By the time I first read Diana Wynne Jones I was already an adult--but that doesn't matter. Many of her readers encounter her later in life, and those who know her as children tend to stick with her into adulthood. That is one of her qualities: her books change and grow as you do." -- Charlie Butler
Because I didn't discover Diana's books until I was an adult, I felt that I had missed out, that I would miss out on something essential in the DWJ reading experience. But, to the contrary, I find that her books aren't for a single age group or readership, no matter whom they are marketed to. And I believe that this is because her love of life and people, her love of each story and its characters, comes through and speaks to any reader who picks up one of her books. Sometimes it's more of a whisper and other times you are almost knocked over by the intensity but it's always there.

At what age did you discover Diana Wynne Jones? Are there any of her books that you felt you weren't the right age to appreciate when you first read them? Were there any books that you appreciated more as you got older?

(By the way, you're going to probably see mention of Jenny's Law this month. It is simply this: "Diana Wynne Jones is better on a reread", a theory put forth by the aforementioned Jenny that has proved to be true on every occasion.)

Missing a friend,
K

15 comments:

  1. I just realized my library has Reflections on ebook! Hooray hooray, I'm going to read the hell out of it! I was planning to do one post for DWJ March, and now it's become two (one on Changeover, one on Howl's Moving Castle), and now I'll have to do three because obviously I'm reading Reflections.

    I discovered DWJ at age thirteen, and although I don't think I was too young/old for any of her books, I've been delighted to find that her books age incredibly well. As I've gotten older and older, I've come to be more and more impressed with how insightful a writer she is. GOD she's the greatest.

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    1. Fantastic! I am excited about it. I read the foreword and reflections more than once each though so I'm thinking it's going to be that way for most of the book. Good thing I've given myself the whole month to get through it!
      And I knew you couldn't stick to one DWJ post. Three! Yay!

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  2. My mother discovered DWJ when I was about 11 (so she was about 36) and she read "Aunt Maria" aloud to me and my brother. I learned to read VERY late, and I remember vividly how I finally managed to make sense of the little marks on the pages of "Hexwood" in order to read it to myself.

    So I am one of those lucky kids who got to grow up with DWJ. However, both my mother and her sister discovered DWJ in their thirties, and have enjoyed her books just as much as I have. I recommend DWJ to everybody of every age—she has a way of speaking that is ageless and timeless, and can connect with us across our lifespans.

    I second Jenny: GOD, she's the greatest!

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    1. DWJ would be a fantastic author to discover with your parent because she works for all ages. I've already read Earwig and the Witch with my son (he's 8) and I look forward to reading more books with him and I hope he'll choose to read some on his own. I do wish I had found her earlier though.

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  3. I was very lucky to grow up with DWJ. I found Witch's Business in 6th grade (~1985), Howl's Moving Castle soon after that, Witch Week and so on, and collected a whole lot of them in college.

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    1. That would be a fun one to pick up in 6th grade!

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  4. I'm reading the foreward now and finding so many passages to highlight.I'm always nervous about reading an author that has been deemed a "children's author", for the first time as an adult. I wonder if I will love the book or even understand it. This book will be my first time ever reading something by DWJ.

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    1. It's true. Sometimes you pick up a children's author that you missed as a child and it just doesn't work. But hopefully this is one that works for you. I have confidence that it will!

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  5. I discovered Diana when I was 17, I was on my second year of high school (in Mexico high school just goes on for three years)I wasn't an adult nor a kid, I found a Spanish translation of Howl's Moving Castle after watching Miyazaki's movie for the tenth time, I didn't like the translation, though. I bought the book in English two years later, on my freshman year of college.

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    1. That's really interesting that you kept going with her despite not liking the translation. I started with Howl too because of the movie. I am a huge Miyazaki fan and I'm glad that it led me to DWJ!

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  6. I have just discovered Diana Wynne Jones this past autumn at the age of 33. I saw the film of Howl's Moving Castle about 7 years ago when it first came out. When I saw it was based on a book, I always intended to read it, but never seemed to get around to it. In September, when I finally did read it I was blown away. I loved it so much that I have embarked on an epic marathon of DWJ reading, and I'm trying to work my way through all her books. (Twenty-four down, I guess I'm about halfway there now.)

    I wish I had discovered her as a child, because I know I would have loved her then. But what I really love about her work is that you can come to it at so many levels. You can just enjoy the story at surface level, or you can dive into all the myth/folklore roots that inspired her and which she subtly and not-so-subtly included in the stories in so many ways. I know I see things in the stories now as an adult that would have completely bypassed me twenty years ago. (And I'm sure that trend will continue as I come back to them in future years.)

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    1. The book is a joy after watching the movie and I love that they are different enough that you aren't then disappointed by the movie. You can definitely love them both! And that's so awesome that it led you to an epic marathon. That's exactly what happened for me too. I'm running out of new books to read but am loving every one!
      And her books always have more depth than you see on first read.

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  7. I honestly can't remember if I was fourteen or fifteen, if it was before or after I started grudgingly admitting that Harry Potter was good and fell outrageously in love with The Lord of the Rings. My school library was stocked with choices for a burgeoning fantasy lover, although I can't say if I discovered these on my own or was recommended them by my excellent librarian.
    I do remember Howl's Moving Castle leaving a major impression on me, and basically shanghai-ing my best friend into reading it (she thanked me later), along with The Lives of Christopher Chant and Fire and Hemlock. I went through phases with all of them, but Fire and Hemlock has definitely stuck with me the longest. It is without a doubt my favourite book, in the world. I've read it so many times, and it never loses any meaning for me.
    Thinking back, I was the perfect age for them, and I'm so happy I got to experience them as an impressionable teen. Her characters shaped the way I thought about myself, and the world.

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    1. It sounds like you had a great librarian, even if she didn't specifically point you toward Howl! And I'm so jealous that you read DWJ as a teen. I can definitely see how they would be life-changing. Luckily, they still have a bit of that magic for older readers too. :)

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  8. What wonderful quotes!!! I'm a late bloomer to DWJ and I can't wait to discover more of her work, all thanks to you!!!! :)

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