Thursday, 4 June 2015

Subcreation and world-building in Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

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Having read the notes in addition to the novel, it is clear that Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (by Susanna Clarke) is one of the most real fictional subcreations I have ever encountered.

It is very difficult not to believe it really happened, because the world is so detailed, so consistent, so convincing. As I walked around Newcastle today, I kept thinking of the time when the Raven King ruled from here - I even saw a raven!

I was trying to the think of comparisons in the post-Tolkien literature.

The nearest fantasy I could come are the Alan Garner Weirdstone of Brisingamen/ Moon of Gomrath duo in which the magical events are sewn-into a lot of local and family history, folklore and neo-paganism. The ring of truth and believable - but the detail is much less than in JS&MN.

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/review-of-alan-garners-weirdstone-of.html

The other example is the Glass Family stories by JS Salinger, which are also difficult not to believe, and similar in their detailed and deep and partly factual back-story (albeit in a different style) to JS&MN.

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/zooey-wins-and-explaining-seymours.html


('Difficult not to believe', that is, with the exception of the last Glass story published - Hapworth 16 1924, which is simply atrocious).
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