October 11, 2017 § 1 Comment
Hello, dear followers who’ve managed to hang on through this long absence, and to those who’ve just stumbled here after searching for that quote that wasn’t written by J. M. Barrie. I want to welcome you to follow me at my new venture, The Fairy Tale Collector.
Yep, I’m leaving the Train behind. After a long blogging hiatus, I’m focusing my efforts on fairy tale books and adaptations and I hope you’ll join me. In the coming weeks I’ll have this url redirect there, but for now, enjoy my old posts here at the Train while you can and hop on over the The Collector when you get a chance. New books, old books, same fairy tale-loving Cate.
December 14, 2014 § Leave a comment
Normally one to rail against major revisions/additions to film adaptations of classic literature, I am completely charmed by this trailer for the new French animated film version of Antoine de Saint Exupery’s The Little Prince, and its added narrative of this little girl and her friendship with her oddball neighbor. If you’ve read the book, then you know that the narrator, the pilot, is addressing an unseen listener, and it’s conceivable that that listener might well look like the studious little girl given life in this new film. And by adding this framework, it seems to me that the filmmakers have captured the wonder of reading this book, either for the first time as a child, or as an adult lost in the pleasures of nostalgia. The shift in animation style between the “real” world and the story of the Little Prince is so lovely, portraying the story-within-a-story as something delicate and other-worldly. I can’t wait to see this!
December 23, 2013 § 1 Comment
Mary Poppins needs a hand this winter, and the internet, thanks to all that is snarky and determined to spread truth, is here to save her. The indisputably expensive new Disney film Saving Mr. Banks, as you’re likely aware, claims to tell the true story behind the making of the indisputably delightful old Disney film, Mary Poppins, based on the novels of P.L. Travers. It pits prudish, harsh, and critical Travers (Emma Thompson) against fun-loving monomaniac Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) in the battle for the rights to produce the film. Disney woo-ed Travers for many years before securing her sign-off to make the film, and Saving Mr. Banks would have you believe that it’s because Walt finally got to the “core” of Travers’s psychosis in creating the character in the first place: daddy issues. It goes so far as to have Thompson beaming with pride at the film’s release, tears welling in her eyes.
But as you may also be aware, thanks to the diligent critics of the inter-webs, Thompson’s tears are a woeful misrepresentation of the true story that isn’t being told in the film: that Travers was devastated by the film. She fought Disney tooth and nail for five years, and you can bet that that fight was not just a charming sing-along by Richard and Robert Sherman and an escorted trip to Disneyland. It was surely much, much uglier. Walt Disney, to put it mildly, was not a nice man. He was a business man, one who insisted in his early films that only his name appear listed as animator, even when he had a team helping him. One who insisted on slapping his name in front of every title his studios put out, in case anyone forgot it. There would never be “P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins” — there would only be his, and in the end, though Travers fought him, she lost. That’s what this film is about. « Read the rest of this entry »
August 7, 2013 § 3 Comments
It’s been quite a while since my last post, and I’ve been missing my dear little blog. But I’ve been busy writing up a storm, and some other projects are taking shape. I hope to be posting more regularly again soon!
In the meantime, I’ve got another review up at Bookslut, on the Oxford University Press’s The Classic Horror of H.P. Lovecraft, edited by Roger Luckhurst. Check it out here: www.bookslut.com.
I had a little bit of trouble writing this review, because while I was familiar with Lovecraft’s writing and the expansive Mythos that it spawned, and I have great respect for his influence in genre lit, I didn’t know much about his biography. What I learned in Roger Luckhurst’s thoughtful and engaging introduction was enough to sour me towards Lovecraft as a man, and to view his writing through a different lens.
Lovecraft was a xenophobe and a racist, and was quite outspoken about this. He had a deep fear of “otherness,” and this influenced his writing in a big way.
So I was faced with a question–can I still admire this author? How much should personal politics affect the way we revere authors whose contributions to our collective imaginations and our culture are undeniable? I still don’t have a good answer, but at least I tried to explain my thought process, when given the chance to learn more about HPL and his world.
“It is strange to think that what makes Lovecraft’s fictions so terrifying, uncanny — and thus enduring — are the very products of his troubling fear of otherness. We cannot separate the man from the work in the same manner, to cite a recent example, that potential audiences of Ender’s Game were recently asked by Orson Scott Card to ignore his homophobia on the grounds that Ender’s Game, being set “more than a century in the future,” had nothing to do with his political views. Were Lovecraft alive to make the same strange plea, it would be hard for him to argue that the revulsion and fear his characters feel when face to face with extreme otherness do not mirror his own.
So why read Lovecraft? Twenty years ago, S.T. Joshi proposed that this question would always bear asking, until Weird fiction became a more accepted genre, worthy of study. But now, with the renaissance of speculative fiction, sci-fi, and Weird fiction currently saturating literary magazines and publishing houses, genre seems no longer to be the crux of the question. But the question still exists. What with Lovecraft’s literary demerits, and the influence of racism and xenophobia on his work, the question seems even more pressing, despite the current interest in strange tales. I can’t offer you an answer (and neither, I would like to point out, does Luckhurst).
I will say that there is something satisfyingly uncanny about reading Lovecraft that is only compounded by this context. Like his many narrators, readers of Lovecraft will find themselves glimpsing something deeply unsettling: a worldview and a man filled both with revulsion and with wonder.”
Thanks for reading!
June 10, 2013 § 1 Comment
Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are, Outside Over There, My Brother’s Book and so many, many more, would have been 85 today. He died last May from complications from a stroke. In honor of his birthday, Google threw him a Doodle party. Make sure to check out the animation on Google’s home page today, but here are some screen shots to share the fun:
April 7, 2013 § Leave a comment
Yesterday marked the 70th anniversary of the publication of Antoine de Saint Exupery’s The Little Prince, one of the most recognizable, but also most thematically nuanced and melancholy, children’s books of the 20th Century. Published in 1943, the short novel draws on Exupery’s own experiences as a pilot. In the book, a pilot finds himself stranded, without fuel, in the Sahara desert. He meets the Little Prince, who is on his own adventure, having set off from his tiny home planet to learn more about life, love, and loss.
Although ostensibly a children’s book, The Little Prince explores, sometimes cynically, the difference between a child-like perception of the universe and adult relationships, and a more jaded “grown-up” point of view. The Prince learns about human trickery and pettiness as well as love on his journey, and though he does not discover that heartache is a purely “grown-up” emotion, having experienced it on his home planet through his relationship with his rose, he does discover that knowledge of the wider adult world does little to stave it off.
The most memorable quotes from The Little Prince spring from the Prince’s encounter with a Fox, whom he loves and tames, and thus feels an unbreakable connection to. And no one encapsulates the mix of child-like wonder and wise, desperate melancholy more than Gene Wilder as the Fox, in this live-action 1974 film adaptation.
Several special editions are in the works to mark the anniversary by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Learn more here.
February 15, 2013 § 22 Comments
I normally try not to address my WordPress Google search term users directly, because it could very well be interpreted as snark. Some do: take, for instance, Amy @ Lucy’s Football , who responds about once a month to the strangest search terms used to find her blog, and attempts to answer questions therein in hopes that whoever searched it once will search again, and find her answer. It’s hilarious, check it out.
I’ve thought about doing it before, but haven’t except now…one thing that is quite close to my heart keeps popping up, ALL THE TIME.
“You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you, Peter Pan. That’s where I’ll be waiting.”
Search terms used:
“Place between sleep and awake barrie quote”
“where in Peter Pan does it say place between sleep and awake”
“jm barrie place thats where ill always love you peter”
and on and on and on since the beginning of this blog.
And I have just one thing I’d like to say about these search terms: NO. NO NO NO NO no. « Read the rest of this entry »
September 1, 2012 § 1 Comment
If you’re still in the mood for fuzzy cuddlies after my last post on Margaret Wise Brown’s “The Color Kittens,” then this post isn’t exactly for you. I’m taking a turn back to folklore land, and celebrating the release of Sam Raimi’s The Possession—which is being commonly referred to as “The Jewish Exorcist” by sharing with you what was actually the first “Jewish Exorcist” film—and before that, what you might call the definitive “Jewish Exorcist” play. « Read the rest of this entry »
July 29, 2012 § Leave a comment
I an think of nothing better to jolt me out of a bleak blogging block than the sight of JK Rowling reading JM Barrie’s Peter Pan, live, to the entire world (except the USA, who saw it four hours later).
Many have criticized (or backhandedly praised) London’s Olympian bash as pushing whimsy more than ceremony. Even I watched the first twenty minutes and thought the whole thing seemed a little Masterpiece Theatre-ish, and that Masterpiece Theatre really does belong on the small screen, and not live, in front of thousands. Just doesn’t quite fit, thematically, in a stadium.
But as the night wore on, I realized that London’s show was largely a philological one, for better or worse: a show that, rather than depicting the uniformity of its mindset and citizens as China did, attempted to catalog and define its greatest contributions to the world of information and literature, from Shakespeare to the world wide web. The biggest–and most nonsensical stop, for those who weren’t sure what they were looking at–was in the realm of children’s literature, which owes British writers…well, pretty much everything. « Read the rest of this entry »
June 11, 2012 § 1 Comment
The Train has been getting a lot of love from fellow fairy tale bloggers these past few weeks, and I just wanted to take a quick second to say thank you, and to share some of the great stuff on these other sites.
First, a big thanks to InkGypsy at Once Upon a Blog for the lovely profile of that she posted here. Once Upon a Blog updates frequently, but never sacrifices thoughtfulness–InkGypsy has sharp critical eye when it comes to fairy tale adaptations, and currently has plenty to say about Snow White and the Huntsman. I plan on adding my own voice to that conversation here in the next couple of days, so tune back in.
So many great blogs out there! Thanks for including me in your ranks, ladies! Readers, click on the links, and share the love. You won’t regret it.