This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Saturday Rave: being Elizabeth Goudge.

Elizabeth Goudge was a middle-class maiden lady who wrote novels for adults and children. 

She won the Carnegie Medal for her children's book The Little White Horse, but she didn't receive very much praise for her adult work. Her 1956 work The Rosemary Tree, for instance, was criticised in the New York Times for its sentiment and 'slight plot'.

This contrasted starkly with the reception given to a 1993 novel called Crane's Morning, by Indrani Aikath-Gyaltsen, which was, according to the Washington Post, 'exquisite' and 'breathtakingly new'.

Well, it might have been exquisite, but it certainly wasn't new. Crane's Morning was set in an Indian Hindu village, but apart from the setting and the names it was copied, sometimes word for word, from Elizabeth Goudge's The Rosemary Tree.

This was a rotten trick if ever there was one, and it's made even more rotten by the fact that Aikath-Gyalten died in not entirely clear circumstances (suicide? neglect?) quite soon after the facts of the plagiarism became known.

You have to be careful with tricks, you know.

But let me leave you with something happier. Elizabeth Goudge died on April Fool's Day 1984, but in her books she found a way of bringing us joy and truth from beyond the grave.

As she said:

'This world...needs to be reminded that the old fairy stories are rooted in truth, that imagination is of value, that happy endings do, in fact, occur, and that the blue spring mist that makes an ugly street look beautiful is just as real as the street itself.'

Word To Use Today: beautiful. This word comes from the Old French biau.

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