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The Saint goes to the Oberland - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
j4
j4
The Saint goes to the Oberland
I've been reading a lot of Saint books recently, and also re-reading a lot of Chalet School books, and I should probably be more worried than I am that the idea of crossover fanfic seems not only tempting but actually quite plausible. The Chalet School girls are, after all, frequently embroiled in some kind of Adventure like rescuing princesses from their evil cousins, capturing Nazi spies, etc. And they're all game girls. I suppose they'd have to get over their initial reluctance to talk to Boys Who Aren't Doctors ... but hey, the Saint is a master of disguise. And I can see him having such fun being trapped in the mountains with a horde of schoolgirls...

On a more serious note, however, it's occurred to me that one of the things that interests me about both series is that they extend across a sufficiently long timespan to cover the whole of the Second World War. I'm not usually keen on "war novels", but these series weren't born of the war, or written as a response to the war; their respective authors were (as far as I can tell) just trying to draw something which was happening around them into the web of the fictional universe they had created, in much the same way as ordinary people must have tried to assimilate the knowledge of what was taking place into their own thoughts and lives, and to fight in their own small way with the weapons they have to hand -- for the Saint, it's a continuation of an ongoing battle against Evil, and it's very strongly presented in those terms; for the Chalet School, it's a quieter but no less determined fight for the values that the books promote all along. In that sense, to me the books constitute an interesting reaction. It's not why I read them, but it's a fascinating thread to follow.

* * *

Of course, it's here (as everywhere!) that I start to feel the weight of my historical ignorance. I don't really know that much about how the war began -- the events that led up to war, the attempts (if any) to avert it, the point at which it became obvious that it was unavoidable. I guess what I really want to know is how much ordinary people knew about what was going on; how and when the war actually began to affect people in England, and what their reactions were.

I feel like I often ask for book recommendations and then end up never getting round to reading the books which are recommended, so please don't go to any trouble over this; but if anybody happens to know of a readable and not-excessively-long book which covers this topic, I'd be interested to hear about it.

Current Mood: positively Saintly

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Comments
bopeepsheep From: bopeepsheep Date: August 26th, 2004 08:50 am (UTC) (Link)
It's not 'zackly what you're after but any excuse to recommend it: When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, Judith Kerr. (Autobiographical 'novel', not history.) This is a collection of all three volumes. There are more factual tomes but I can't think of any offhand and I'm sure there'll be a historian who can along in a moment.
huskyteer From: huskyteer Date: August 26th, 2004 08:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, seconded! One of my absolute favourites. I was also going to recommend Henrietta's War by Joyce Dennys; again, not really about how the war started, but very good on the reactions of ordinary people going about their ordinary lives.

And Janet - IKWYM about the fascination of long-running series fiction suddenly having to deal with a world war. Dick Tracy simply made all its villains Nazi supporters for the duration, but threw in a lot of details like petrol coupons too.
rysmiel From: rysmiel Date: August 26th, 2004 09:14 am (UTC) (Link)
There is something really interesting in watching a longrunning supposedly real-world series have the world around it change; where I've experienced this most is in reading Nero Wolfe mysteries, which start in 1934 and go on, with the two principals not aging a day, until 1975. The ones set from the late 60s on are a bit hit and miss because they sometimes do really weird values of being out of synch with the zeitgeist. [ Oh, that reminds me, have you read Bruce Sterling's novel of that name ? ]

The other thing that I think this is like is watching SF series changing to adapt to changes in the "now" of the writer, or not doing so; I'm not aware of anyone managing to gracefully retrofit the end of the Cold War into a future history that started being written while the Cold War was ongoing.
j4 From: j4 Date: August 26th, 2004 09:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Not read Zeitgeist, no. I'm sure I've read something by Bruce Sterling but I can't think what it was.
sion_a From: sion_a Date: August 26th, 2004 09:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Mirrorshades probably. (Nice distinction between "short stories" and "short fiction" they've got there....)
hairyears From: hairyears Date: August 26th, 2004 04:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

Schismatrix, Holy Fire and Heavy Weather spring to mind... as does his non-fiction essay, The Hacker Crackdown. I'm not sure you'd have read any of those and forgotten, though: maybe you read Distraction.

j4 From: j4 Date: August 26th, 2004 09:15 am (UTC) (Link)
I thought for a moment I'd read Henrietta's War, too, but then realised I was thinking of Carrie's War. Will look out for Henrietta...
j4 From: j4 Date: August 26th, 2004 09:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I have read that, actually, but a long time ago -- I should probably re-read it, I'm pretty sure I have a copy sitting around somewhere. Didn't realise it was part of a set though, so thanks for the pointer -- now have to decide whether to buy the three-volume or look out for the other two as separates...
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