March 7, 2017

Badger's Parting Gifts by Susan Varley

By Susan Varley

The story of a responsible, trustworthy and valuable badger who realises that his previous age will quickly bring about loss of life. His acquaintances discover ways to come to phrases together with his dying in a fascinating story. With complete color illustrations all through.

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Sample text

Perhaps Wally felt dissatisfied with what had happened to his earlier story and wanted to try again. In any case the magic of the new story is of an entirely different order. ’ I asked. ’ ‘No, he didn’t really go up. ’ Wally explained. ’ asked Warren. ] ‘He wasn’t,’ said Wally. After all, it was his story. (1981: 65) Wally’s responses to his critics are interesting. Although at times he would happily rewrite a story to satisfy a would-be actor’s objections, he was only prepared to concede his listeners a modest role in his storytelling, as his reply to Warren shows.

In the opening scene it is the incidental details that catch his attention, moments of insight which stand out against the formal descriptions of character and setting: If there is a certain vulgarity of approach in the opening, in the description of the characters and of the dwelling, then I alone am responsible for it. If I had left him alone I am sure he would have described the same thing unobtrusively in the course of the action, with greater art, without that mannerism of logically arranged descriptions which is accepted amongst us and has become impossible: first the description of the dramatis personae and even their biographies, then a description of the place and milieu and only then the action begins.

A pedantic critic might complain that it takes an unconscionable time for the boys to find out what has happened to their brother but the narrative requires them to wait until the father’s sacrifice is complete. The role of the fairy, encountered in the forest, is not to set things right so much as to ensure that the father’s sacrifice achieves its purpose. In a similar way the fairy in the fourth of Wally’s nine stories makes sure that the boy hunter’s declaration, ‘You are both my sisters,’ achieves its purpose by turning the girl lion into a girl person and thus a real sister.

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