“The Fountain Overflows” by Rebecca West

What is an artist in The Fountain Overflows?

During the Modern period of literature, writers continually asked questions about “high” art and its relationship to life—to politics, “low” art, literary tradition, and popular culture. Having lived through the Modern period, Rebecca West discusses
these questions in The Fountain Overflows (1957). Throughout the novel, West constructs a dichotomy between two characters—Cordelia, the Not-Artist for whom art is a means; and Rose, the Artist for whom art is an end. Yet West’s definition of the “artist” remains ambiguous; instead of strictly delineating the “artist,” the novel instead presents a fluid view of art and the artist.


Feminist novelist and journalist Rebecca West (1892-1983) is most famous for her novella "The Return of the Soldier," the first English-language book written about shell-shock, and her reports on the Nuremburg trials.

 Constructing a Dichotomy: Cordelia and Rose’s Contrasting Views of Music

 An “artist” is someone who makes or does art; to decide who is an “artist,” one should first define “art.” Therefore, to understand West’s presentation of the artist or musician in The Fountain Overflows, one must first discuss Cordelia and Rose’s opposing views of music. For Cordelia, music is a means to an end—for example, Cordelia plays music to
garner praise: Cordelia is “not an artist”[1] because “there was nothing, absolutely nothing, in her performance except the
desire to please.”[2] Music, for Cordelia, is a path to relative financial stability: when their mother asks why she wants to
perform professionally, Cordelia cries, “Because I want the money.”[3] Once Cordelia has enough money to live independently, she will use her violin-playing to leave her family.[4]

For Cordelia, music is something good and beautiful that she can use. When Rose, looking through a window, watches Cordelia performing for a large crowd, Rose realizes that Cordelia has accomplished something good in spite of her dreadful violin-playing: she has given her audience a glimpse of beauty. Rose explains:

‘Certainly Cordelia had not given these people music. But she had given them something, something, something which reminded me of the hour we had just spent on the Thames, watching the glassy river run past our plunging oars, the water netted like cracked
glass…the glassiness of glass.’[5]

Rose does not say that Cordelia gave her audience “music” as Rose defines music. Yet Cordelia’s “music” has done something good: the beautiful sight of Cordelia playing the violin “refreshes the eye like water.”[6] Cordelia’s impassioned response to Cousin Jock’s despair emphasizes her view of music as a means: “What’s the harm in cancer,” she cries, “if there’s all this
music in the world?”[7] If music can ameliorate or even cure cancer, then music is a beautiful means to a good end.

In contrast, Rose—who says of herself, “I was really a musician”[8]—does not even think to use music as a means. For Rose, the physical world cannot be an end, and thus does not matter nearly as much as music. Throughout the novel, Rose, Mary, and her mother—those in the family whom Rose considers truly musical—express their ultimate unconcern for physical ends with the phrase, “It will be all right.”[9] For “true” musicians such as Rose, music is the only end.

Moreover, in the final scene—the most important scene in this discussion—Rose experiences a crisis: she realizes she does not understand music and doubts her identity as an artist. Here West presents music, not as a good and beautiful thing that one
can use, but as a non-thing, as a question. Mary tells Rose that “music” is about people like Rosamund: “about life….and specially about the parts of life we do not understand.”[10] For Mary, who “can’t say” what she means, music is something one does; a
musician struggles to understand life “by explaining it by music.”[11]

Rose, who has just admitted to failing to understand Rosamund,[12] then asks herself: “What was music? I suddenly felt sick because I did not know the answer.”[13] Rose the character now begins to doubt that she is an artist: “[I]t was idiotic that I should become a musician. I had no musical gifts.”[14] Rose the character—although she knows that music is not a beautiful thing as
Cordelia supposes—does not yet fully understand that music is an action as Mary does. Yet Rose the narrator does understand: by asking the question “What is music?” Rose confirms herself as an artist; by seeking to understand music,
Rose is doing music.

Rose learns this lesson only moments later, when their host asks her and Mary to play Schumann’s duets. Instantly the sisters agree—not because they will be paid extra for playing an extra song, but because they love the song. The sisters were
“fascinated” by the duet which, as they had “never been taught” it,[15] they had to discover on their own; Rose talks of the duet as a question that she and Mary struggled to answer, as a place she and Mary had to discover, as a part of life that is difficult to understand. Then Rose realizes that, by questioning the nature of music, she is, and has been doing, music: “I was a musician in my
own right, though I could not yet say to what degree….so I went with my sister back into the concert-room.”[16]
When Rose realizes that music is something one does—a quest to understand life’s paradoxes—she reclaims her identity as an artist. Thus, West presents the artist as someone who, like Rose, struggles to understand life.


West published her semi-autobiographical novel "The Fountain Overflows" in 1957.

Deconstructing the Dichotomy: Pride, Aristotelian Happiness, and Water Imagery

But the dichotomy between Cordelia the Non-artist and Rose the Artist is too simple. West complicates her depiction of the artist in several ways. For instance, Rose and Mary’s motivation for practicing the Schumman duet supports an interpretation
of music as a means: they studied it “simply for” their “own amusement,”[17] to make themselves happy. Happiness can be considered the end of all human action; as Aristotle wrote in Nicomachean Ethics:

“[W]e also choose them [goods or actions] for the sake of happiness, supposing that through them we shall be happy…Happiness, then, is apparently something complete and self-sufficient, since it is the end of all things achievable in action.”[18]

If Rose and Mary play the piano because it makes them happy, as the word “amusement”[19] suggests, then they use music as a means to attain happiness. Moreover, by playing music, Rose and Mary struggle to comprehend “the parts of life we do
not understand”[20]—they use music to understand life. Therefore, Cordelia’s understanding of music as a means to an
end is correct. If Cordelia understands the nature of music and Rose does not, then Cordelia might be the Artist and Rose the Non-artist.

West further complicates her depiction of the artist with water imagery. The novel’s final image is of water sweeping Rose away: “I was swept on by the strong flood of which I was a part.”[21] This image, following Rose’s re-affirmation of herself as an artist, decisively undermines it. Rose has recently compared her artistic parents to “two springs” that flow down a mountain and into the world “as a great river.”[22] It is possible that Rose has no more musical talent than Cordelia, and that
both girls think of themselves as “artists” (though they mean different things by the word) simply because their parents are artists. West’s title—The Fountain Overflows—supports this reading.

But not even West’s water imagery is simple. She applies this imagery, not only to the Aubrey family, but also to the “young composer” Rose and Mary meet at the end of the novel. West carefully juxtaposes him with Cordelia, noting that “he was
as essentially musical as Cordelia was unmusical”[23]; also, he has “grey eyes clear as water”[24]
and Cordelia “refreshes the eye like water.”[25] He is musical, and Cordelia is not; yet both receive the water imagery that
refers most powerfully to Mr. and Mrs. Aubrey. Since West graces both Cordelia and the characters Rose thinks “artistic” with water imagery, one infers that the nature of art and the artist is fluid, like water.


The Fountain Overflows ends with an image of a flood—thus, the reader may infer that such imagery is vital to one’s understanding of the novel. Although Rose the narrator constructs a dichotomy between Cordelia the Non-artist and herself as
the Artist, West’s own definition of an “artist” appears to be fluid. For West, an artist both uses beautiful music to bring happiness to oneself and others and “does” music in a quest to understand life’s paradoxes—although the second use of music might be “higher” or more important, pursuing the first makes a person no less an artist.

[1] Rebecca West, The Fountain Overflows (London:
Macmillan, 1957), 128.


[2] Ibid., 129.


[3] Ibid., 139.


[4] Ibid., 383.

[5] West, 285.


[6] Ibid., 285.


[7] Ibid., 305.


[8] Ibid., 145


[9] Ibid., 1, 8, 18, 28, 33,
40, 55, etc.


[10] West, 390.


[11] Ibid., 390.


[12] Ibid., 390.


[13] Ibid., 391.


[14] Ibid., 391.


[15] Ibid., 392.

[16] West, 392.


[17] Ibid., 392.


[18] Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, translated by
Terence Irwin (Indianaoplis, Indiana: Hackett Publishing Company, 1999), I.7.5,


[19] West, 392.


[20] Ibid., 390.

[21] Ibid., 392.


[22] Ibid., 391.


[23] Ibid., 391.


[24] Ibid., 391.


[25] Ibid., 285.


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Good and Evil in ‘The Satanic Verses’ by Salman Rushdie

How does Rushdie Represent Good and Evil in The Satanic Verses?

“The just,” Aristotle wrote in Nicomachean Ethics, “is something human.”[1] For Salman Rushdie in The Satanic Verses, good and evil are something human. Rushdie gives a dialogic representation of good and evil, especially of the latter; each character (including the nebulous narrator) identifies different people, ideas, and institutions as “evil.” Although one could say that this multiplicity of voices supports moral relativism, it accomplishes something slightly different: Rushdie’s dialogic representation of evil grounds “good” and “evil” in the psychology of particular human beings, encouraging his readers to understand other human beings before judging their actions or beliefs as good or evil.

Dialogism and Evil

All the characters in The Satanic Verses employ their equal and unique voices to declare their own views of good and evil. Since the
omniscient, unidentified narrator[2] speaks to the reader throughout the story as a character, the novel presents no single authoritative voice. “I’m saying nothing,” the narrator says. “Don’t ask me to clear things up one way or the other; the time of revelations is long gone.”[3] Here the narrator refuses to impose his or her perspective on the story. Since the novel lacks an authoritative voice, all the characters’ differing opinions on good and evil carry equal weight; thus, the novel lacks an absolute standard of good and evil. What one can gather from the different characters’ statements is that good and evil are human things, not divine. For instance, several characters associate “evil” with a particular culture: the Imam defines “evil”
as “foreignness”[4] and Hind calls London “a demon city.”[5] Other characters condemn ideologies and institutions as evil: Sufyan,[6] Jumpy,[7] and Mishal and Anahita[8] reject the British government that oppresses Asian immigrants; and Sisodia
censures Indian religious beliefs and practices.[9] Others denounce certain people as evil: Salman attributes evil actions to
Mahound,[10] and Mrs. Qureishi calls her son-in-law “a woman hitter” and a “devil.”[11] Each of these voices present evil as a human phenomenon, not as something supernatural. A few characters such as Ayesha[12] and Mahound[13] attribute evil actions to spiritual figures. Hence, while the novel presents no absolute standard for good and evil, the majority of voices in this democratic novel declare good and evil to be a human phenomena, identifiable in human institutions, ideas, and hearts.

 Saladin’s Story: Evil and the Human Psyche

When Saladin is transformed into a satyr, people don't see him as a kindly pan-flautist like this satyr, but as a monster.

More specifically, the plot reveals that evil is grounded in human nature and psychology, as shown by Saladin’s story: his transformation into a “demon”[14] and his crime against Gibreel and Allie stem directly from his childhood in India and relationship with his father. Saladin—who pursues his idea of “the good,”[15] that is, Englishness—finds himself morphed into a living representation of his idea of “evil.” As India is filled with “rubble, litter, noise,” and “disorder”[16]; so Saladin-satyr is “loud, stench, hideous, outsize, grotesque.”[17] The old Indian pedophile’s “fleshbone”[18] is even mirrored by Saladin-satyr’s “phallus, greatly enlarged and embarrassingly erect.”[19] Saladin becomes a caricature of his father: Changez is tall,[20] so Saladin grows “to a height of over eight feet”[21]; Changez is domineering and cruel,[22] so Saladin gains remarkable “Powers[23]; Changez is superstitious,[24] so Saladin asks a “Moroccan priest” for help regaining his human form.[25]
Tellingly, Saladin snaps at his father before his transformation, “Whatever I am, father dear….I owe it all to you.”[26]
Thus, when Saladin appears to be “the incarnation of evil,”[27] he does not embody a universal absolute evil, but the particular evils that have traumatized his psyche.

Throughout the novel’s middle, Saladin-satyr struggles with his transformation and with human nature and evil. Saladin initially thinks that his metamorphosis has fundamentally changed his being: “He chose Lucretius over Ovid. The inconstant soul…A being going through life can become so other to himself as to be another.”[28] After incorrectly deciding that his “essence” has completely changed,[29] Saladin revises his view—he has not truly changed at all, since man is essentially evil: “Why demons, when man himself is a demon?”[30] Saladin comes close to an accurate understanding of his psyche when he
recollects Niccolò Machiavelli’s life: although the Florentine politician sacrificed everything to fight for democracy and freedom, his name has become “a synonym for evil.”[31] One may call Machiavelli an “evil” traitor and sycophant because he worked for
the tyrannical Medici, but by doing so, one forgets that Machiavelli’s actions stemmed from a particular political and personal situation.

Saladin does not understand the full significance of his Machiavelli allusion until after he has betrayed Gibreel and Allie. Rushdie brackets Saladin’s wicked deeds with references to Shakespeare’s Othello,[32] aligning Gibreel and Saladin with Othello and Iago. According to Professor Wormersley, Iago does not trap Othello with his schemes; rather, “Iago and Othello create a world
together” that inevitably leads to tragedy.[33] This reading of Othello does not interpret Iago as “pure evil” and instead thinks of Iago as a psychologically complex human. Gibreel and Saladin reflect this view of Othello: Gibreel’s “maw of the black hole”[34]
parallels Saladin’s “new, dark world”[35]; both choose to take “the left-hand path”;[36]  the narrator calls the two men “conjoined
opposites.”[37] Hence, if Saladin is Iago, then Saladin has not completely transformed into “the incarnation of
evil” as he thinks.[38] Instead, Saladin’s wicked actions simply stem from his very human psyche. Although Saladin has regained his human form, his scheme to destroy Gibreel and Allie’s relationship shows he has inherited his father’s deceitful cruelty. As Changez’s theft of the wallet showed an infantile lust for control, so Saladin’s phone calls to Gibreel and Allie are an “infernal, childlike evil.”[39] Like Iago’s treacherous acts, Saladin’s betrayal does not confirm him as absolutely evil, but rather merely human: “His humanity is sufficient form and explanation for his deed.”[40]  Saladin—like Machiavelli and Mohammed[41]—is
not a supernaturally evil figure; he is human, and must be judged accordingly.

Niccolo Machiavelli wrote 'The Prince,' in which he infamously appears to support tyranny, after his family was banished and he was tortured by a tyrant.

After his crimes, Saladin comes to understand human evil by reconciling with his father and confronting Gibreel. Saladin returns to India to visit his father, who has been transformed by cancer. As Saladin’s metamorphosis did not fundamentally change his soul,
but only emphasized already-existing evil aspects of his psyche; so Changez’ cancer has not abrogated his self, but only abolished the evil aspects of his character: the cancer “stripped him of his faults, of all that had been domineering, tyrannical, and cruel in him, so that the mischievous, loving and brilliant man beneath lay exposed, once again, for all to see.”[42] While Saladin has always envisioned his father as absolutely evil, he now understands that Changez is only a human with human flaws. Moreover, Changez’s
death teaches Saladin that evil is inherent to human nature: after witnessing “the dawning of a terror”[43]
on his father’s face as he dies, Saladin wonders, “‘Why the horror?”[44] By using the word
“horror,” Rushdie alludes to Kurtz’s last words in Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness: “‘The horror! The
horror!”[45] The dying Kurtz comprehends with terror the depravity of human nature; in The Satanic Verses, the dying Changez and his son reach the same realization—evil is human.

Saladin’s confrontation with Gibreel cements his new understanding of human evil. After Gibreel murders Allie and Sisodia, Saladin recognizes his guilt: “he was going to die for his verses, but could not find it in himself to call the
death-sentence unjust.”[46] This statement indicates that Saladin has realized two things: First, he
understands that his transformation into a satyr did not mark a fundamental change in his identity[47]—Saladin,
a human, was already evil—and thus he is morally responsible for betraying Gibreel. Second, Saladin can empathize with Gibreel’s mental instability, even though Gibreel betrayed him: Saladin, seeing from Gibreel’s point of view,
feels “oddly detached from events. –Like Gibreel when the sickness came.”[48] Having learned from his father’s illness and death that humans are inherently evil, but not completely evil, Saladin can judge Gibreel’s “evil” actions
appropriately. Saladin can “no longer believe in fairy-tales”—he can no longer blame his and Gibreel’s evil deeds on supernatural forces, as he knows that evil is human.


Rushdie’s novel presents a bleak view of humanity—the qualification that man is not completely evil does little to brighten
the statement that evil itself is human. Moreover, The Satanic Verses explicitly critiques Muslim theology, questioning its distinctions between good and evil in a way that unsettles any religious person in the postmodern era. If one is disheartened by Rushdie’s depiction of human nature, religion, and good and evil, one must note the final page of the novel: “It seemed to him [Saladin] that in spite of all his wrong-doing, weakness, guilt—in spite of his humanity—he was getting another chance.”[49] Like Saladin, Rushdie’s readers have been unnerved by their journey to a new perspective on evil and humanity; yet like Saladin, one has been given an opportunity to approach others with empathy and humility, knowing that everyone is merely human.

[1] Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, translated by Terence Irwin (Indianaoplis, Indiana: Hackett Publishing Company, 1999),

[2] Rushdie never reveals his narrator’s identity, but one may infer that the narrator is a supernatural figure, due to his or her omniscience about the story’s spiritual aspects. Yet it remains unclear if the narrator is a demon (perhaps even Satan, as seen on
page 95) or an angel (perhaps even Allah, as seen on page 423). Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses (New York: Random
House, 1988).

[3] Ibid., 423.

[4] Rushdie, 212.

[5] Ibid., 258.

[6] Ibid., 261.

[7] Ibid., 426.

[8] Ibid., 253, 267, 272, 292,

[9] Ibid., 533.

[10] Ibid., 376.

[11] Ibid., 240.

[12] Ibid., 498.

[13] Ibid., 125-6.

[14] Ibid., 294.

[15] Rushdie, 265.

[16] Ibid., 55.

[17] Ibid., 298.

[18] Ibid., 38.

[19] Ibid., 163.

[20] Ibid., 36.

[21] Ibid., 300.

[22] Changez takes the wallet Saladin finds only to force thirteen-year-old Saladin to use it to pay for his father to live lazily in London (Rushdie, 37-44).

[23] Ibid., 298.

[24] Ibid., 41.

[25] Ibid., 251.

[26] Ibid., 46.

[27] Ibid., 265.

[28] Rushdie, 297.

[29] Ibid., 285.

[30] Ibid., 422.

[31] Ibid., 415.

[32] Ibid., 439, 481.

[33] Professor Wormersley, “Othello” (presented at the “Shakespeare’s Tragedies” lecture series at Oxford University, 25 January

[34] Rushdie, 479.

[35] Rushdie, 433.

[36] Ibid. 362, 433.

[37] Ibid., 441.

[38] Ibid., 265.

[39] Ibid., 459.

[40] Ibid., 481.

[41] Ibid., 415.

[42] Ibid., 538.

[43] Rushdie, 545.

[44] Ibid., 546.

[45] Joseph Conrad, “The Heart of Darkness,” Heart of Darkness and Selections from The Congo Diary, (New York:
The Modern Library, 1999), 86.

[46] Rushdie, 560.

[47] Ibid., 265-6.

[48] Ibid., 560.

[49] Rushdie, 561.

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‘Let there be Light’: The Gospel According to Dr River Song

Amy: What does the time energy do?


Amy: Tell me!

Doctor: If the time-energy catches up with you, you’ll never have been born. It will erase every moment of your existence. You will never have lived at all. Now….keep your eyes shut, and keep moving.

Remember how scared you were when you first heard Matt Smith speak those four sentences? As Amy clung to the communicator and shook with fright, the BBC National Orchestra’s string section screeched up the scale and you scooted forward on the couch. I scooted forward on my desk chair and started cramming chicken tikka masala into my mouth at factory speed while watching ‘Flesh and Stone’ on my laptop as a dinner-time break from prepping for my Virginia Woolf tutorial. Since BBC iPlayer posted the episodes out of order, I hadn’t known about the cracks until this episode. I didn’t understand what had
happened to Rory at the end of ‘Cold Blood’ until this moment. And I felt very afraid.

Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) gets devoured by time-energy in 'Cold Blood.'

Why are the cracks so very scary? If Rory dies in any “ordinary” fashion—getting sprayed with poisonous green gas, shot with a laser gun, or blown up in the Blitz—we throw our dinner plates at the telly screen, at Steven Moffat, at Amy for rendering Rory unavailable in the first place. We comfort ourselves, knowing that Doctor Who has a history of undignified but epic dues ex machina endings, and that Moffat will probably pull one to bring Rory back.

But Rory erased from existence? All the plate-throwing and rationalizing in the universe can’t dampen our rage, grief, and fear.


Because we know, instinctively, that existence is inherently good and nonexistence inherently evil.

It’s an inalienable truth. We all like existing. Athanasius, an Egyptian theologian born around 298 A. D., expanded on this truth in his book On the Incarnation: ‘It is God alone who exists, evil is non-being [or nonexistence], the negation and antithesis of good.’[1]

In other words, God exists. Goodness exists. Evil does not exist—or, it is nonexistence. Nonexistence threatens to destroy all good things.  So the cracks in Doctor Who that devour all of time and space are evil. They transform everything that exists into nonexistence—they change everything that is good into the ultimate evil. They can even change Rory—who can be too kind-hearted for his own good—into Evil.

And that scares us.

One of the cracks in the fabric of the universe.

But there’s a way to shut the cracks, to bring Rory and otherssucked into nonexistence and evil back into existence:

Angel Bob: The time field is coming. It will destroy our reality.

Doctor: Well, look at you, running away. What can I do for

Angel Bob: There is a rupture in time. The angels calculate that if you throw yourself into it, it will close, and they will be saved.

Doctor: Yeah, yeah, yeah, could do that, could do that, but why?

Angel Bob: Your friends would also be saved.

Doctor: Well, there is that.

River: I’ve travelled in time. I’m a complicated space-time event, too; throw me in!

Doctor: Oh, be serious! Compared to me, these angels are more complicated than you, and it’d take every single one of them to amount to me, so get a grip.

River: I can’t let you do this.

I suspect the Doctor knew then what he had to do. To shut the cracks, he would have to find the explosion that caused the cracks and throw himself into it. That’s exactly what he does in ‘The Big Bang’:

River: The T.A.R.D.I.S. is still burning; it’s exploding at every point in history. If you threw the Pandorica into the explosion, right into the heart of the fire…

Amy: Then what?

River: ….then let there be light.

Vincent Van Vogh's depiction of the T.A.R.D.I.S. exploding.

Specifically, if you threw the Doctor—the most ‘complicated space-time event’ ever—and the Pandorica with its restorative light into the explosion, the Pandorica’s light would shoot through the cracks to every point in time and space, forcing the cracks to regurgitate everything they had swallowed.

Although it’s the Pandorica’s light that brings the universe back into existence, it’s terribly clear that only the Doctor can fly the
Pandorica into the explosion. Only by sacrificing himself—giving himself up to evil, to nonexistence—can the Doctor save the universe from evil.

When River and Amy had that conversation, I immediately thought of the end of C. S. Lewis’ novella The Great Divorce, in which Lewis and others take a bus from hell to heaven—from a huge grey metropolis to an entire world of trees and mountains. When Lewis arrives, he meets Romantic novelist and preacher George MacDonald, who shows
him that hell—which he had thought was huge—was really infinitesimal:

…he made me see, after I had looked very closely, a crack in the soil so small that I could not have identified it without this aid.

‘I cannot be certain,’ he said, ‘that this is the crack ye came up through. But through a crack no bigger than that ye
certainly came.’

‘But—but,’ I gasped with a feeling of bewilderment not unlike terror. ‘I saw an infinite abyss. And cliffs towering up and up. And then this country on top of the cliffs.’

‘Aye. But the voyage was not mere locomotion. That bus, and all you inside it, were increasing in size.’

‘Do you mean then that Hell—all that infinite empty town—is down in some little crack like this?’

‘Yes. All Hell is smaller than one pebble of your earthly world: but it is smaller than one atom of this world, the Real
World. Look at yon butterfly. If it swallowed all Hell, Hell would not be big enough to do it any harm or to have any taste….’

‘I see,’ I said at last. ‘She couldn’t fit into

He nodded. ‘There’s not room for her,’ he said. ‘Hell could not open its mouth wide enough.’

‘And she couldn’t make herself smaller?—like Alice, you know.’

‘Nothing like small enough. For a damned soul is nearly nothing: it is shrunk, shut up in itself. Good beats upon the damned incessantly as sound waves beat on the ears of the deaf, but they cannot receive it…’

For Lewis, hell is a bleak place of near-nonexistence: you’re trapped inside a crack so small, so close to nonexistence, that no one can fit their arm inside the crack to pull you out. Just as the Doctor alone can enter the explosion to bring people out of nonexistence, Jesus Christ alone can enter hell to bring people out of near-nonexistence. Lewis continues:

‘Then can no one ever reach them?’

‘Only the Greatest of all can make Himself small enough to enter Hell. For the higher a thing is, the lower it can descend—a man can sympathise with a horse but a horse cannot sympathise with a rat. Only One has descended into Hell.’

‘And will He ever do so again?’

‘I was not once long ago that He did it. Time does not work that way when once ye have left Earth. All the moments
that have been or shall be were, or are, present in the moment of His descending. There is no spirit in prison to whom He did not preach.’

‘And some hear him?’


Sound familiar? Only the Doctor—the most complicated space-time event ever, the last of the Time Lords—can throw himself into the explosion and close the cracks. River Song can’t; the weeping angels can’t; the Pandorica alone can’t. And when he does, he restores every moment and place throughout all of space and time. Similarly, only Christ—the most complicated
space-time event ever, the eternal God turned into mortal human flesh—can be crucified and descend through the cracks into hell. And when He does, he rescues every person throughout all of history from evil’s power, giving them the freedom to choose Him, the Light of the world.

As River so aptly says, ‘Let there be light.’

[1] Athanasius, On the Incarnation., I.4.

[2] C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce (New York: Macmillan, 1946), 122-4.

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10 Mystery Must-Reads

Today I feasted on book jacket back covers in Barnes & Noble. A delectable hour of literary hors d’oeuvres, all served fresh from the authors’ imagination-oven-things (extended metaphor, don’t fail me now!). I methodically grabbed each book on the New Mystery shelves, flipped it over, read the back. If the one-hundred word nibble animated my taste buds, I feverishly thumbed the
author and title into my phone, feeling like a hunter-gatherer ant sending out pheromones screaming, “Dinner time! Come and get it!”

Ok, extended metaphor fail. But this book list shall not fail. I’ve selected the following ten from my initial mob of twenty-five. Some are straight from the presses, but others have sat on the shelves since I was in swaddling clothes (or waist-high straight-legged jeans and round plastic glasses…yay, 90s!). None, however, are stodgy Golden Age formulaic tomes—these are exactly the sort of books a budding twenty-first century crime novelist should read. So pull up your library’s catalogue and get ready to click “search”!

Alan Glynn, Winterland (2010)

The pinnacle of emerald noir, Glynn’s new novel exposes how greed, globalization, and the Great Recession have gorged on Ireland, transforming the island into a nation of ‘Jobless Paddy’s. It’s more a thriller than a mystery proper—the protagonist,
Gina, is the victim’s blood relative, and probably doesn’t know what she’s doing. But Winterland is about ordinary people suffering ordinary, overwhelming pains—in other words, all of us.

Steve Hamilton, The Lock Artist (2010)

Mike Smith can break into anything, anywhere. He’s been mute for a decade. Hamilton writes the tale of how Smith breaks into his own past to discover the secret of his silence. It’s the most original for a psychological thriller I’ve come across in a while.

Henning Mankell, The Fifth Woman (2004)

Mankell’s police procedurals starring Kurt Wallander were popular with English-literate readers long before fellow Swede Steig Larsson’s The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo stole the limelight. Considering Mankell’s innate skill and years of practicing his craft, the Anglo-American crime fiction crowd has few better ways to view is favorite genre through a different cultural lens.

Anne Perry, Treason at Lisson Grove: A Charlotte and Thomas Pitt Novel (2011)

Charlotte and her copper hubby Thomas Pitt apparently take on assassins and spies to save the British Empire in this Victorian gambol. Fun summer reading—but we’ll see how it fares next to my Victorian-Edwardian-Great War mysteries of choice, Elizabeth Peters’ intergenerational Amelia Peabody series.

Spencer Quinn, Dog on It (2009)

Cat cozies are so cliché. But dog n’ detective romps?  Nearly unheard of! Although the scent of yada-yada-I’ve-seen-that-before rises from the missing teen daughter plot, innovative charm wafts from Chet and Bernie. Pismo Beach + Dog on It = happiness.

Steven Saylor, Roman Blood (1991)

Gordianus is a “finder,” an ancient Roman sleuth hired by Marcus Tullius Cicero (yup, that dead politician/philosopher some honors girls all had crushes on freshman spring….) to ferret out who really committed the crime with which Cicero’s client, Sextus Roscius, is charged. It’s a historical mystery, but far from being a nostalgic Victorian cozy like Treason at Lisson Grove, it’s a serious legal thriller spiced with moral grit and political gore, the hallmarks of the dying Roman Republic.

Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, Roseanna (2008)

The Birmingham Post praises Sjöwall and Wahlöö as “the best writers of police procedural in the world.” Obviously I want to know why the level-headed Midlands folk think thus. Written in the 1980s, this first novel in Sjöwall and Wahlöö’s Martin Beck
series details their protagonist’s hunt for the villain who killed Roseanna on an idyllic day at Lake Vattern.

Frank Tallis, Vienna Blood (2008)

Everyone loves best-buds sleuthing teams—from Holmes and Watson to Shawn and Gus—and Tallis knows it. Turn-of-the-century Viennese psychologist Max Liebermann helps his Detective Inspector buddy solve a crime connected to Mozart’s The Magic Flute! A must-read for me because (1) I love Vienna, (2) I’ve seen The Magic Flute, (3) It’s set only a decade before my novel is, and (4) My sleuth is a psychologist as well. Also, its title bears a happy resemblance to Saylor’s novel’s, so obviously I’m meant to read both. As are you.

Victoria Thompson, Murder on Bank Street (2008)

Another turn-of-the-century venture, Thompson’s novel explores the underbelly of New York from her midwife sleuth’s POV. The tenth book of the Gaslight Mysteries series, Murder on Bank Street delves into the protagonist’s past….and unearths her husband’s murder. Thompson fans expostulate enthusiastically an Amazon; I think I trust them.

The Best American Mystery Stories: 2010.

Edited by Lee Child and Otto Penzler, this collection of twenty short stories represents the best up-and-coming crime writers in America. If you want to know how the genre has morphed this year, here’s the place to look.

Enjoy! 🙂

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The Doctor on Human Nature

Tonight, a good man goes to war.

If you live in the UK, at least. If you live in the US, you still bite their nails when you wonder what will happen in “The Almost People,” which doesn’t air on BBC America until tonight.

If you live in the US and are too broke to have BBC America—like me—you bite your nails because you can’t go on the internet without being four-by-foured by a spoiler.

Spoilers, people. We should know better.

Because of the spoilers, I’ve been avoiding tumblr and the BBC One website. But I’m still biting my nails. To get my Who fix and entertain myself while working out, I’m running through Series 3, and I’m one-third of the way through the three-part series finale. Though I haven’t finished the series yet, but my suspicions about the series are well-founded.

Series 3 is all about Human Nature.

Freema Agyeman and David Tennant as Martha Jones and the Doctor

Yup, the series featuring Martha the Ravenclaw was written for Ravenclaws. Every episode philosophizes about some aspect of human nature. Although the telly magicians make this most obvious in Episode 9—predictably entitled “Human Nature”—they hold their master theme just below each episode’s silly aliens-on-a-rampage plot, just as the Doctor’s real self hovers just behind his
human persona’s eyes in Episode 9.

John Smith/The Doctor (David Tennant) fantasizes about what his life could be like if he remains human with the woman he loves (Joan Redfern).

I’ll discuss this theory in more detail once I’ve watched the whole season. But here’s the current episode-by-episode summary:

‘Smith and Jones’— Humans will panic when the bizzare occurs, but not so much that they forget their ideals of justice and self-sacrifice.

‘The Shakespeare Code’—Human creativity is a kind ofmagic, which sometimes protects humans better than the Doctor’s alien genius.

‘Daleks in Manhattan’ and ‘The Evolution of the Daleks’—The Doctor continually bemoans humanity’s tendency to kill first and ask questions later; nevertheless, our courage and compassion defeats the Dalek’s hatred. And if you have courage and compassion, you’re human, even if you look like a monster.

‘The Lazarus Experiment’—Humans die. We are most human when we face death with courage, and least human when we run in cowardice.

‘42’—essentially a thematic re-hash of ‘The Evolution of the Daleks,’ but with a strong emphasis on familial loyalty as something that makes us human.

‘Human Nature’ and ‘The Family of Blood’—The ability to love makes us human (Incidentally, this episode’s theme foreshadows the Doctor/River and Rory/Amy plots).

‘Blink’—Carey Mulligan’s exceptional acting enables this entire episode to testify to the incredible power of human courage and love, even in the most extraordinary circumstances.

Clearly, I haven’t yet watched the series premier (‘The Runaway Bride,’ featuring Donna), ‘Gridlock,’ or the second and third episodes of the three-part series finale. From ‘Utopia,’ I suspect that the series-long discussion of human nature will coalesce and conclude in Episode 14, ‘Last of the Time Lords.’ From Netflix’s summary of the final episode, I suspect it will fall to Martha’s human frailty to save the Earth….thus confirming the series’ thesis on the nobility of humanity.

To be continued….

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Emma Formatted to Fit Your Screen: Andrew Davies, Douglas McGrath, and Sandy Welch’s ‘Emma’s

Do screen adaptations of Austen betray her writing
or, as Butler has claimed, signify its universality? Discuss with detailed
reference to particular adaptations.

In 1957, George Bluestone asserted that adapting a novel for film is a mistake because film is an essentially inferior art form to the novel and thus cannot avoid butchering the source text. [1] As cinematic art developed, scholarly opinion changed, until now critics such as Marc Di Paolo can “assume that a film can have artistic merit” and that “a film can—at least in some manner—be ‘worthy’ of the culturally treasured source novel that it is based on.”[2] By 2000, it was possible for Deidre Lynch to suggest that “[t]o concentrate on whether the meanings of the novels have been ‘misrepresented’” in Austen film adaptations “is to defer more interesting if more difficult questions.”[3] Yet this traditional question is precisely the one at hand—whether or not Austen film
adaptations are valid. I will first address literary critics’ views of what it might mean for a film to “betray” Austen, and then analyze three adaptations of Emma from the scholars’ perspective: Diarmuid Lawrence and Andrew Davies’ telefilm Jane Austen’s “Emma” (1996), Douglas McGrath’s Miramax film Emma (1996), and Jim O’Hanlon and Sandy Welch’s television miniseries Emma (2009). Using these films as examples, I will argue that Austen has universal appeal, and discuss whether it is grounded in nostalgia for her world or love for her characters.


Betrayal and Fidelity on the Screen

“Betrayal” implies relationship. Interviews with Jane Austen’s “Emma” screenwriter Andrew Davies and with the Miramax Emma director and screenwriter Douglas McGrath reveal that both filmmakers, even in the absence of copyright restrictions on Austen’s work, believe they have a responsibility to Austen. “You can’t change the actual story,” said Davies. The “certain amount of liberty” a screenwriter must take when adapting a novel to film, for Davies, is justified because every novel has “hidden scenes” that the author “didn’t get around to writing herself.”[4] Similarly, McGrath praises Austen as “a good collaborator” because of her
“superb dialogue,” “memorable characters,” and “extremely clever skill for plotting.” Like Davies, McGrath sees himself as working with the person Jane Austen; as with any “collaborator,” he has agreed to honor her work.

But what does it mean to “honor her work”? Presumably, it means adhering to her text; yet critics mean different things by “adhere to the text.”  John Wiltshire, [5] Neil Sinyard,[6]  and Di Paolo[7] compare Austen adaptations to critical essays that emphasize particular aspects of a work to the expense of other facets to make a point. Since Austen’s novels have been adapted to film several times, “the weight of responsibility” not to betray Austen “is shared by other, parallel, literary adaptations.”[8] No film need be “definitive”—a relief to filmmakers, since no 120-page-screenplay adaptation of a 400-page novel can be.

Helpfully, Geoffrey Wagner invented three classifications for film adaptations of novels: “A ‘transposition’ follows the novel closely; a ‘commentary’ alters the novel slightly, with a new emphasis or new structure; and ‘analogy’ uses the novel as a point of
departure.”[9] Sue Parrill offers Pride and Prejudice (1995), which takes nearly all its dialogue from the novel, as a “transposition”; Mansfield Park (1999), which “reinterprets the novel” from a postmodern view of its historical context, as a “commentary”; and Clueless (1996), Emma retold in 1990s Los Angeles, as an “analogy.”[10] Implicit in Wagner’s classifications is the belief that any film that corresponds to a category does not “betray” Austen—even the revisionist Mansfield Park and contemporary Clueless. Further liberating film adaptations, Brian McFarlane told the Literature/Film Association that “with film adaptations….playing around is more effective” than “fidelity.”[11] In the last fifteen years, many literary critics have accepted that films—as different than yet equal to novels—cannot “definitively” represent Austen’s work, and thus that filmmakers should concentrate on making excellent films. Such a critical consensus indicates that the dichotomy between “good” and “bad” film adaptations—between “betraying” and remaining “faithful” to Austen—has been deconstructed in favor of a confidence that adaptation has something
interesting to say about Austen.

“Emma”: Social and Psychological Order in the Opening and Closing Scenes of Three “Emma” Adaptations

Emma, as Austen’s most complex novel, spawns the most divergent interpretations.[12] According to Di Paolo, critics tend to see Emma either as a “domestic Bildungsroman” or as “a social critique.”[13] The three most recent Emma adaptations fall into these two groups: the Miramax and BBC versions are Bildungsromans, and the Meridian/A&E version a social critique. Additionally, one can categorize the films according to Wagner’s standards: the Miramax is a transposition; the BBC slips between transposition and commentary, highlighting minor themes, supplying new dialogue, and yet faithfully representing the plot and characters; and the “Marxist”[14] Meridian is clearly a commentary. In each of these films, the filmmakers especially use the opening and closing scenes to communicate their readings of Austen’s novel.

The Opening Scenes

From its first scene, Diarmuid Lawrence and Andrew Davies’ verson highlights Emma’s social context—class divisions in Highbury. According to David Monagham, screenwriter Andrew Davies renders both the novel’s “Burkeian view of the social contract”[15]
and its historical context, namely the lower classes’ “discontent…in the wake of the French revolution.”[16] For Burke and Austen, “society is not frozen into a state of immutable perfection,” but is “a living organism” that “must either grow or wither and
die.”[17] Davies asserts that Highbury’s small community, led by its insular upper class, is too static to survive the nineteenth century’s social changes.

In his essay “Emma and the Art of Adaptation,” Monagham describes how Davies establishes his reading of Highbury
in his first scene: working-class thieves raid Hartfield’s chicken coups, observed by a sleepy and bored Emma. Emma’s depiction in this scene contrasts with the lower-class characters’: she is captured by a still camera, framed by a white window, and moves slowly, while the thieves’ running feet are followed by the camera. The upper-class, static Emma is separated from the turbulent
lower-class. In the next scene, Mr. Woodhouse tells Miss Taylor not to marry Mr. Weston as they and Emma ride in a carriage past Highbury’s poor; Davies juxtaposes the inert upper class—represented by Mr. Woodhouse’s hatred of change—with the need for change. In the third scene, the newly wedded Mr. and Mrs. Weston run to their carriage, followed by the camera like the chicken
thieves. The upbeat music, moving camera, and jostling carriage indicate that marriage represents healthy change in Davies’ Highbury.[18]

In contrast to Davies’ telefilm, Douglas McGrath’s Emma (1996) focuses on Emma’s peers as her pertinent social context,
prompting Carol M. Dole to criticize the McGrath film for ignoring Emma’s social context and perpetuating
the “American ‘myth of classlessness.’”[19] Nevertheless, McGrath’s film depicts Emma
as a Bildungsroman,[20] showing how Emma matures by interacting with her friends until she can marry
her dearest friend, Mr. Knightly. McGrath’s opening sequence features portraits of the important characters: Mrs. and Miss Bates, Mr. Elton, Mr. and Mrs. Weston, Mr. Knightly, Mr. Woodhouse, and Emma. The characters pictured here constitute Emma’s social context, as the narrator’s first line emphasizes: “In a time when one’s town was one’s world, and the actions at a dance excited
greater interest than the movement of armies, there lived a young woman who knew how this world should be run.”[21]
The camera, fittingly, moves from the spinning globe to Emma’s face. McGrath’s ironic opening line indicates that Emma’s interactions with her friends will teach her that she does not know “how this world should be run.” McGrath is
interested in how the society fosters the individual. For instance, in the first scene, Emma tells Mrs. Weston: “Such happiness this brings to all of us.”[22] The camera again focuses on Emma’s painted globe, which symbolizes Mrs. Weston’s inclination to indulge Emma and allow her to waste her gifts instead of using them to help her peers.[23] Mrs. Weston’s decisions—like each character’s—do not affect only her, but her peers.

Emma’s relevant social context in screenwriter Sandy Welch’s Emma (2009) is even more limited than in McGrath’s film; Welch
begins with a prologue sequence dramatizing Emma, Frank, and Jane’s childhoods. As Emma says in the first episode, “Jane, Frank Churchill and I are bound together in a mysterious sort of way.”[24] The prologue shows how the tragedies in Emma, Jane, and Frank’s childhoods are aberrations in Highbury’s social order: an upper-class family becomes poor, two mothers die, and two children leave and “trust their fortune to strangers.”[25] The rattling carriages that carry Jane and Frank from Highbury represent social disorder. Yet Welch, like McGrath more interested in psychological than social order, emphasizes how Emma, Jane, and Frank’s childhood experiences of loss and loneliness affect their actions as adults.

In the first scene, Welch reveals how Mrs. Woodhouse’s death affects Emma’s childhood. A young Emma plays with dolls beneath a table, the table’s legs and curtains surrounding her, isolating her from the other people in the room. As Emma hears Miss Bates talk of Jane, she rolls her eyes at Miss Taylor, already rejecting Jane’s friendship. Mr. Woodhouse shushes Miss Bates lest Emma should
hear of Jane going to the seaside with the Campbells; thus, the sea represents maturity, liberty, and community for the viewer, who sees the child Emma still trapped beneath the table, alone with her dolls. With the prologue and first scene, the film presents Emma as alienated from others by her mother’s death.

The Closing Scenes

Kate Beckinsale and Mark Strong as Emma and Mr Knightly in Andrew Davies' adaptation

Having established their favored interpretation of Austen’s novel, the filmmakers must conclude by consummating their themes. In Davies’s telefilm, the opening scenes’ contrast between chaos and immobility merges in a dance’s orderly movement. The camera
follows Emma as she trots agitatedly after discovering that Harriet loves Mr. Knightly, and cuts quickly from Emma to Harriet as they nearly collide and nervously tell of their engagements. After Mr. Knightly promises both
“stability” and “change” to his tenants, [26] the three happy couples dance together, surrounded by both upper- and
lower-class characters, as an unmistakable image of “class harmony.”[27] Although the dancing couples would make an ideal final image, Davies concludes with a second chicken raid. Monagham argues that the second raid depicts Highbury as a nineteenth century wasteland that can only be healed by the balance between stability and change that marriage offers.[28]
Yet while the opening scenes presented marriage among the upper class as heralding change to a proper social order, the second raid implies that marriage alone cannot heal Highbury.

In contrast, the McGrath film lingers on the proposal itself, presenting Mr. Knightly as Emma’s most important friend. Mr. Knightly and Emma say the word “friend” and its variations eight times during the proposal scene,[29] climaxing with Mr. Knightly asking Emma to marry him: “Marry me, my wonderful, darling friend.”[30] Moreover, while the novel nods at the “iron sharpens iron” element of their friendship,[31] McGrath highlights their friendship’s improving nature by adapting Austen’s
line: “I’ve humbled you, and I’ve lectured you, and you have borne it as no one could’ve borne it. Maybe it is our imperfections that make us so perfect for one another.”[32] McGrath shows that Emma’s close friendships, particularly with Mr. Knightly,
have matured her so that she can now marry Mr. Knightly and integrate with society.

Mr Knightly (Jeremy Northam) proposes to Emma (Gwyneth Paltrow) in McGrath's adaptation

Additionally, the post-proposal scenes highlight only Emma’s most important friends: Harriet occupies the two scenes before the wedding, which features Mrs. Elton, Frank and Jane, and Mr. and Mrs. Weston. As the wedding segues into the portraits of
Emma and her friends from the film’s beginning, the narrator says, “[T]he wishes, faith, and the predictions of the small band of true friends who witnessed the ceremony were fully answered in the perfect happiness of the
union.”[33] The portraits—including one of Jane, Frank, and Mrs. and Miss Bates, who do not leave Highbury in McGrath’s film—are neatly arranged beneath that of Mr. and Mrs. Knightly, visually representing the consummation of Highbury’s social
order brought about by Emma’s marriage.

As the Welch Emma’s prologue narrowed Emma’s society further to just her, Jane, and Frank, the film’s conclusion
emphasizes their connection. Welch’s proposal resembles Austen’s more than McGrath’s in that hers, like Austen’s, contrasts Frank and Jane’s secret engagement with Mr. Knightly and Emma’s honesty towards each other.[34] While Emma and Knightly use the word “secret” twice to describe Jane and Frank in the film, they speak of their “honesty” towards each other eight times.[35]

Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller as Emma and Mr Knightly in Welch's adaptation

In the following scenes, Emma reconciles with Frank and Jane, who show no sign of leaving Highbury. Frank, whom Emma had previously called a “little lost boy,” has finally “come home” to Highbury with Jane;[36] as the lonely children who lost loved family members find love again, social order is restored. But as the Davies film refused to end on a romanticized image of social order, Welch disrupts the newly-restored order. Emma says good-bye to her father and—echoing Jane and Frank’s departures in the
prologue—is handed into a carriage by Mr. Knightly as they head to their seaside honeymoon. In this final scene, Welch combines the images of social disorder and psychological isolation established in the prologue and first scene to comment on Emma’s character at the story’s end. For Welch, Emma’s marriage has ended the isolation caused by her mother’s death. When the sea was
first mentioned in the first scene, Emma was trapped beneath a table, playing with dolls by herself. In the last shot, Emma and Mr. Knightly gaze at the sea, holding hands. Emma’s interactions with Jane, Frank, and Mr. Knightly have taught her to be honest with people, not to manipulate them like toys. More importantly, Emma’s mature honesty has enabled her to escape her isolation.


As the three different Emmas indicate, the broad possibilities for Austen adaptations stem from the novels’
intellectual richness and their universal popularity. Julian North,[37]  Andrew Davies,[38] Judith Lowder Newton,[39] Diedre Lynch,[40] Douglas McGrath[41] and others attribute Austen’s modern popular appeal to nostalgia for a pre-industrial age of politeness and beauty. One could also attribute Austen’s 1990s popularity to politics: according to Marilyn Butler, Austen is
an intellectual conservative whose ideals of moral and social order are uniquely ground in the actual world.[42]
The Berlin Wall’s collapse in 1989, Margaret Thatcher’s fall in 1990,[43] and the Treaty on European Union’s signing in 1992[44]
may have attracted filmgoers and readers anxious about society and politics to Austen in the 1990s.

Fifteen years after Davies’ and McGrath’s Emmas, there is no consensus among film and literary critics about which film is
“better”; yet it seems that the former has fared worse than the latter. In 2008, Paul Mavis of DVD Talk criticized
the Lawrence-Davies adaptation for being “miscast,” “misdirected,” and “not very funny.” To Mavis, Kate
Beckinsale’s Emma is “bitchy, snotty,” and Mark Strong’s Mr. Knightly is “too stern and cross”[45]—characterizations
in tune with Davies’ depiction of a complacent, static, and supercilious upper class. Mavis’ review reveals that the social commentary in Davies’ film negatively affected the characters’ portrayals, which has caused the film’s reception to grow colder with the years. In contrast, Hilary Schor noted in 2003 that McGrath’s Emma “seem[s] classic to most viewers” because of its “strategic deployment of characters’ voices.”[46] As the McGrath film used society to further character development, critics’
continued positive reviews of his film suggest that Austen’s popularity has more to do with her characters than with her world. Therefore, as Welch’s film developed Emma, Jane, and Frank’s psychologies even more thoroughly than McGrath’s,
it is likely that critics will still view the latest Emma adaptation positively in another decade. If so, McGrath’s and
Welch’s Emma adaptations demonstrate that Austen’s loveable characters—not her beautiful, pre-materialistic, orderly
society—render her work universal.

Marc Di Paolo, Emma Adapted: Jane
Austen’s Heroine from Book to Film
(New York: Lang, 2007), 12.

Ibid., 12.

 [3] Deidre Lynch, “Introduction: Sharing with Our
Neighbors,” in Janeites: Austen’s
Disciples and Devotees
, edited by Deidre Lynch, 3-24 (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 2000), 5.

 [4] David
Goldman, “Jane Austen’s Emma: Meet
the Production Team” (1996): http://www.pemberley.com/janeausten. Quoted in Gina
Macdonald and Andrew F. Macdonald, “Introduction,” in Jane Austen on Screen, edited by Gina Macdonald and Andrew F.
Macdonald, 1-8 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 5.

 [5] John
Wiltshire, Recreating Jane Austen (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2001), 5. Quoted in Di Paolo, 8-9.

 [6] Neil
Sinyard, Filming Literature: The Art of
Screen Adaptation
(New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1986), 117. Quoted in Sue
Parrill, Jane Austen on Film and
Television: A Critical Study of the
Adaptations (Jefferson, North Carolina:
MacFarland and Company, Inc., Publishers, 2002), 5.

 [7] Di
Paolo, 16.

 [8] Ibid.,

Geoffrey Wagner, The Novel and Cinema (London:
Tantivy Press, 1975), 222-226. Quoted in Parrill, 9.

Parrill, 8-9.

 [11] Brian
McFarlane, “It Wasn’t Like That in the Book,” Literature/Film Quarterly 28:3 164-169 (2000), 165. Quoted in
Parrill, 8.

 [12] Di
Paolo, 19.

Ibid., 22.

Di Paolo, 105.

 [15] David
Monagham, “Emma and the Art of
Adaptation,” in Jane Austen on Screen,
edited by Gina Macdonald and Andrew F. Macdonald, 197-227 (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2003), 200.

Ibid., 202.

Ibid., 203.

Monagham, 199-212. Jane Austen’s “Emma”, DVD, directed by Diamuid Lawrence (London:
Meridian [ITV] /A&E, 1996).

 [19] Di
Paolo, 8.

Ibid., 22.

 [21] Emma, DVD, directed by Douglas McGrath
(Santa Monica, California: Miramax, 1996).

[22] Emma, McGrath.

[23] For
Hilary Schor, the globe represents the power Emma exerts on the people around
her, which is clearly supported by the
narrator’s ironic comment that Emma “knew how this world should be run”
(Hilary Schor, “Emma, Interrupted:
Speaking Jane Austen in Fiction and Film,” in Jane Austen on Screen, edited by Gina Macdonald and Andrew F.
Macdonald, 144-174 [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003], 147-8). Yet
in the first scene, Emma, Mr. Elton, and Mrs. Weston discuss Emma’s skill (or
lack thereof) evidenced by the globe, which justifies my interpretation of the
globe’s symbolism.

“Episode 1,” Emma, DVD, directed by
Jim O’Hanlon (London: BBC, 2009).


[26] Jane Austen’s “Emma.”

Monagham, 211.

Ibid., 211.

 [29] In
Austen’s text, Emma dignifies both Mr. Knightly and Harriet by calling each one
her “friend” twice, and Mr. Knightly only once says the word “friend” (Jane
Austen, Emma [London: Dover
Publications, 2011],  368-375).

[30] Emma, McGrath.

 [31] “I
have blamed you,” Mr. Knightly says, “and lectured you, and you have borne it
as no other woman in England would have borne it” (Austen 373).

 [32] Emma, McGrath.

 [33] Ibid.

 [34] Austen’s diction in the proposal scene emphasizes
truth and deception: “blind” or “blindness” appears six times (Austen 368),
“secret” (369) and “concealment” (372) once each, and “truth” four times

“Episode 4,” Emma, DVD, directed by
Jim O’Hanlon (London: BBC, 2009).

“Episode 1,” Emma, O’Hanlon.

Parrill, 38.

Sue Birtwistle and Susie Conklin, The
Making of Jane Austen’s Emma
(London: Penguin, 1996), 7-8. Quoted in
Parrill, 123.

 [39] James
Thompson, “How to Do Things with Austen,” in Jane Austen and Co., edited by Suzanne R. Pucci and James Thompson, 13-32 (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2003), 23.

Lynch, 6.

Parrill, 6-7.

 [42] Marilyn Butler, Jane
Austen and the War of Ideas
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), 1-3.

“Margaret Thatcher (1925 – ),” BBC
, http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/ thatcher_margaret.shtml
(accessed 5 April 2011).

“1980-1989: The Changing Face of Europe—The Fall of the Berlin Wall,” Europa: The History of the European Union, http://europa.eu/abc/history/1980-1989/index_en.htm
(accessed 5 April 2011).

Paul Mavis, “Romance Collection: Special Ed. (Pride and Prejudice, The Scarlet
Pimpernel, Emma, Tom Jones, Jane Eyre, Lorne Doone, Ivanhoe),” DVD Talk, 2 June 2008, http://www.dvdtalk.com

(accessed 5 April 2011).

Schor, 145.

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Llanberis, Cymru (Wales)

The bus rumbled down the main street just after midnight, turning into the narrow cobbled lane behind our cottage. I’m not a night
person, but the little I could see outside the window—dark forests, sheep fields shadowed by stone farm buildings, roadsigns in both Welsh and English—hyped me up better than caffeine or the Doctor Who theme. I’d been in posh North Oxford for too long.

I was now in Llanberis, Cymry (Wales), a small village which sleeps along the south-western shore of Llyn Padarn, one of Snowdonia National Park’s many lakes. At the foot of Mt. Snowdon and only a twenty-minute drive from the nearest seaside town, Caernarfon, Llanberis served as the ideal home base for our extended weekend trip into the faeryland of northern Wales.

Llanberis' main street

When the sky slightly cleared at midmorning the next day, I pulled on my London Fog coat and Merrel boots and stepped out the front door onto the main street. The shop fronts switched between ecstatic reds and blues and demure creams. I resisted the temptation to jump from puddle to puddle as I passed tea shops, a used book store, and a two-story slate home with a long
drive lined by tall pine trees and a yard closed off from the modern village by a stone wall. Further down the main street, I inspected a war memorial and climbed up a small hill past a beer garden to Eglwys St. Padarn Church, a venerable edifice built of local slate.

Turning left, I ambled through a park with swings, benches, and a gaggle of geese to the lake. A path skirts the lake, angling south-east towards the Norman castle ruins at the lake’s most inland corner.

Llanberis' park by Llyn Padarn, with the castle in the distance

I followed the right-of-way around football fields, the local train station, and yellow-green sheep fields opposite the north shore’s slate mines. As I walked, I met only one runner and a man walking his dog. The isolation, the startlingly briny breeze that burst through the mountain passes, the smell of livestock, and the cries of seagulls rushed over me like the March rain. I rinsed off eight weeks of term and three weeks of worry about a fatally ill family member, hummed “This is My Father’s World,” and chatted
with the sheep that trotted curiously after me.

Obliged to return to the house for lunch, I ventured out that afternoon, leading the rest of the group along the path to the castle. We crossed the river at Llyn Padarn’s south-east corner and followed a trail cushioned by last autumn’s leaves up a forested hill. The
Norman castle has perched at the hill’s crest since the 1230s—after William I conquered England and encouraged his nobles to settle the Welsh marches, after the hybrid Welsh-Norman Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote his History of the Kings of Britain decrying Norman rule, while the Welsh princes still hoped for autonomy, and long before Cymru was ‘conquered’ in
any sense. The castle, way back when, had two main floor levels, both with fireplaces and windows in their chambers. No Norman castle is complete without a spiral staircase, and this one had a particularly tricksy one—it reversed direction halfway to the top. Now, all that remains is the keep and the foundations for the outer walls.

While everyone else ignored the Ministry of Works’ red danger sign—‘VISITORS ARE WARNED TO TAKE EVERY CARE TO
AVOID ACCIDENTS’— and climbed down into the keep and through what I think was the hole beneath a Roman-style loo, I shot photos of the castle’s majestic view over Llyn Padarn. The urge to write gripped my gut, and I wished I had my leather journal with me. It occurred to me that the modern poetry I’d been studying so diligently for eight weeks had no relevance to this world of
castles and sheep and mist.

view from the castle at Llanberis

Disdaining to return the way we had come, we climbed down the hill’s north face through a pathless forest. I found
myself scanning the forest floor for straight sticks that could pass as wands—my Harry Potter fanatic friends back home would appreciate wands from Wales. And I mused, I could use that castle in my book—yes—and the ice-dragon could sleep in
the keep, and rush down in fury upon the village when awoken by my young heroine and her foolish brothers.

In short, what Carrol, Lewis, and Rowling found in Oxford, I, like Tolkein, had found in Wales.

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