Sunday, 27 March 2011

Diana Wynne Jones

died yesterday. Her death will be an immense loss to the writing community, especially to those who enjoyed her unique blend of science and fantasy.
I do not usually read science fiction, in fact I can think of very little science fiction I have read. I do not read a lot of "fantasy" either, or not of the science fiction variety. Diana Wynne Jones however managed to write something quite different. Her books were a wonderful blend of real, imaginary and extraordinary.
"Howl's Moving Castle" (Methuen 1986) had (perhaps still has) almost a cult following, especially in Japan. It was made into a full length cartoon. Howl (a wizard) is a marvellous creation. He is one of the most contradictory characters in children's or young adult literature. There is an unpredictability about him that must surely resonate with teenagers because he is really no more mature than that. This is the sort of book that should appear on lists of suggestions for school students to read.
There are the Chrestomanci books as well. Chrestomanci has more responsibility than Howl. He is a much more adult character but he has his weaknesses and his vanity as well as an awareness of his position and his responsibilities. Charmed Life, the first of the series, has plenty of humour even as it explores the issues of increasing self awareness and responsibility in young Cat.
More adult books such as "The Dark Lord of Derkholm", "The Year of the Griffin", "A sudden wild magic" mix issues of physics, biology, fantasy, and the responsible use of power. They blend parallel worlds and characters and raise moral questions. It is all done with wit and a sense of hope for the future.
There is one book for young people yet to be published as well as a book of her papers. Seven Stories, the museum and archives for children's literature, will preserve her work. Her publishers would do well to see that her books also remain available.
Diana Wynne Jones has left behind a wonderful array of books that everyone should have access to and most will want to read. Thankyou for the journeys. They were marvellous.


jeanfromcornwall said...

Thanks - that was interesting. I must confess to not having read any of hers, apart from dipping in while dusting in the bookshop. Not that there was much dust on that section of the shelf; she sold well to the sort of youngsters who made me think they must be good.

catdownunder said...

You are welcome. I would recommend reading at least one!

Charmaine Clancy said...

I've added her to my reading list - informative post.

Sheep Rustler said...

Just heard and very sad. Not actually read any of her books but she has long been on my list to be read, maybe moved up now!

widdershins said...

She'll be missed... Bon Voyage Diana

catdownunder said...

Hello Charmaine - nice to meet you.
Yes please add DWJ to your reading lists and let me know what you think.

Mary said...

Drat! I love reading her books.