Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Quote: Jo Walton

I was rereading Among Others for this Thursday's Young Adult Book Discussion (for details see our book clubs page and/or the January YA newsletter), and I found this early passage, beautifully linking language and landscape and knowledge:

"The places of my childhood were linked by magical pathways, ones almost no adults used. They had roads, we had these. They were for walking, they were different and extra, wider than a path but not big enough for cars, sometimes parallel to the real roads and sometimes cutting from nowhere to nowhere, from an elven ruin to the labyrinth of Minos. We gave them names but we knew unquestioningly that the real name for them was "dramroads." I never turned that word over in my mouth and saw it for what it was: Tram road. Welsh mutates initial consonants. Actually all languages do, but most of them take centuries, while Welsh does it while your mouth is still open. Tram to dram, of course. Once there had been trams running on rails up those dramroads, trams full of iron ore or coal. So empty and leaf-strewn, used by nobody but children and fairies, they'd once been little railroads.

"It wasn't that we didn't know history. Even if you only count the real world, we knew more history than most people. We'd been taught about cavemen and Normans and Tudors. We knew about Greeks and Romans. We knew masses of personal stories about World War II. We even knew quite a lot of family history. It just didn't connect to the landscape. And it was the landscape that formed us, that made us who we were as we grew in it, that affected everything. We thought we were living in a fantasy landscape when actually we were living in a science fictional one. In ignorance, we played our way through what the elves and giants had left us, taking the fairies' possession for ownership. I named the dramroads after places in The Lord of the Rings when I should have recognised that they were from The Chrysalids.

"It's amazing how large the things are that it's possible to overlook."

- Jo Walton, Among Others

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