Monday, November 2, 2009

Boiling Roses

As part of my last round (I hope) of revisions on my Witch Family paper, the blind reviewer for the journal asked if I could "put [Eleanor] Estes in the context of other writers on the moral imagination," in particular, George MacDonald, author of the incredibly beautiful fairy story,
The Princess and the Goblin, among other enduringly popular tales. So that meant that I had to go out and read MacDonald's (apparently) classic essay (which I had never heard of before), "The Fantastic Imagination."

It was wonderful, proving that sometimes work you don't want to do can yield unexpected treats and treasures.

Here is how MacDonald expresses his unwillingness to spell out the meaning of his stories: "I say again, if I cannot draw a horse, I will not write THIS IS A HORSE under what I foolishly meant for one." Don't you love that?

And then he writes, "To ask me to explain, is to say, 'Roses! Boil them, or we won't have them!' My tales may not be roses but I will not boil them."

This made me cringe a bit, remembering books where I now think I underlined "the message" too baldly, labeling my poorly drawn quadraped-ish creature with "THIS IS A HORSE." I think I may have boiled too many of my roses.

New writing resolution: no more labeled horses! No more boiled roses!

No comments:

Post a Comment