Author - Elanorraine
Written on - Friday 20th February 2009 (09:07am)
As I was reading Diane Duane's "Young Wizards" series of books the other day I was struck by a passage where her characters are taking a long walk... down into the heart and depths of a mountain... wherein lie some rather dragon or dinosaur-ish creatures.
Perhaps I'm a different kind of reader now, or perhaps I'm "listening" for these things as I read more often, but I began to be reminded of all these other fantastic stories where characters take a long walk underground, wherein lie some unsavory or unknown creatures for whatever reason. Tolkien does it multiple times: (Bilbo and Gollum, Bilbo and Smaug, the Fellowship in Moria, Frodo Sam and Gollum, Luthien and Beren...). Lewis does it more than once in his fiction: Jill and Eustace and Puddlglum in "The Silver Chair", Ransom in "Perelandra" (though his walk starts out at the root and then goes up). Then others started chiming in: Curdy in "The Princess and the Goblin" (by George MacDonald), Taran in one of the Chronicles of Prydain books (by Lloyd Alexander), the music from the "Peer Gynt" suite (In the Hall of the Mountain King - by Grieg),
And it seemed like it made the story richer and louder - like when you hold the damper pedal up on the piano and sing loudly into it, and the piano strings start to hum back at you whenever you hit one of it's notes. Or, like the unimitable sound of the instrument used for the "Rohan" theme in the second LoTR film, which has so many sympathetic strings that every note vibrates with it's own echo of resonance. I discovered that by reading stories that use the same mode or scale - the ones I hold most dear - the threads and settings and plots of the story are strung up like threads tuned to one another in my memory. Strike a note of the same type in a new story and all the old associations come ringing into the story.
Is this, after all, what all those secondary school literature teachers were always harping at - is this what they were aiming for? To get enough of these threads from the "great" stories tuned into our memories, and to get us to write and compare them one to another, to see where the common resonances lie?
What if the story of my life can become enriched with these resonances? What if it has already? (When I look up and see the mountains out of my door, do I not name them the "Misty Mountains" when the storm or fog clouds descend?)
I used to abhor both the technique and the purpose of literature classes: they always seemed to be forcing all kinds of literature I had no taste for into my head or, if I did have a taste for it, to destroy all the enjoyment by making me analyze it to pieces afterwards! But perhaps I can abhor the technique while admiring the purpose. It is in pursuit of a better, richer ability to understand and read and live - in pursuit of being able to hear the echoes of others when I encounter something new.