Hero and Leander and Lewis and Miller and Davis

There’s a judicious review-article (of what seems to be a problematic book) up at The Nation website: Jordan Davis on Laura Miller’s book about the Narnia series.

I thought it was pretty impressive, and had never heard of Davis before, so I went in search of his work. I found some of his verse scattered about the internet, and I’m not sure I totally get it, but I was struck by a longish poem with some classical content, “Hero and Leander.” Leander, swimming, sees a girl (except she’s not a girl) peeling an orange (except it’s not an orange) on the beach.

Leander, seeing, dripping as he came
Onto rocky land said May I
Have a piece of that
It was pomegranate and she
Smiled red and said
Here and he was in intense pain

(The whole thing is online here)

I like that “smiled red” bit, and the general design of the poem (insofar as I understand it).

[cross-posted a couple places]

About JE

James Enge is the author of the World-Fantasy-Award-nominated novel Blood of Ambrose (Pyr, April 2009). His latest book is The Wide World's End. His short fiction has appeared in Swords and Dark Magic (Harper Collins, 2010), Black Gate, the Stabby-Award-winning anthology Blackguards and elsewhere.
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4 Responses to Hero and Leander and Lewis and Miller and Davis

  1. scbutler says:

    Have you read Miller’s book? It is problematic. Not sure I agree with Davis’s take on it though. What I found problematic was Miller’s constant put down of Narnia in comparison to more established literary authors despite the fact that she loves Narnia. I came away thinking of her book as an apologia of reading for pleasure rather than reading what’s important.

    • JE says:

      Hm. That does sound like a problem. It’s a strange world where reading for pleasure needs some kind of justification.

      I haven’t read Miller’s book yet, but it’s starting to look like I might have to: it keeps bobbing up in front of me.

      An interesting book I’ve been reading lately is Farah Mendlesohn’s _Rhetorics of Fantasy_. I wouldn’t say that I agree with all her opinions (I don’t even agree with all of my own, sometimes), but she’s got an interesting take on the different kinds of fantasy and their impact on their audience(s).

      • scbutler says:

        The Wesleyan University press book? I almost picked that up, then decided I didn’t want to shell out $28 for a paperback. Plus I tend to have and ERB fan’s appreciation of genre rather than an academic’s. Her book does sound interesting. Perhaps I should get off my butt.

        • JE says:

          I’m always trying to find ways to integrate my two writing personalities (s&s and academic), so it’s interesting to me. I may end up writing something academic about American popular fantasy–but only if I can be sure I’m not screwing up my own fiction-writing process (which is pretty irrational and doesn’t like to be interrogated).

          But I didn’t buy Mendlesohn’s book, either: my university library has a copy. The typical academic press seems to price books under the assumption that they will only be bought by libraries or students who’ve been assigned them in courses… so they mostly sell only to libraries and students who’ve been assigned them in courses. Maybe they know what they’re doing, but somehow I doubt it.

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