May 18, 2007

Lloyd Alexander

I have just learned, via Endicott Redux, that Lloyd Alexander passed away yesterday, at the age of 83.

What sad news. Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain are among my very favourite fantasy series. I picked them up at a time of personal difficulties, and they helped me find the strength I was lacking. This series, deeply rooted in Welsh mythology, is both funny and sad, human and endearing, full of perils and adventures, and very, very memorable characters. There is a Disney adaptation of one of the books, The Black Cauldron but, as usual, it does not do the novel justice.

There are five books in the series, and the latter ones are considerably darker than the first. My personal favourite is Taran the Wanderer, a coming of age tale in which the hero, Taran, travels in search of his father, and ends up finding himself. The last book in the series, The High King, won the Newbery medal

I leave you with a quote by Alexander on writing that I've always loved:
The best writing is the most deeply personal. Never be afraid to use yourself, your emotions, your dilemmas and difficulties in what you write. This gives a tremendous strength and vitality to your work. What means something to you will surely mean something to others. Even though an author's personal life, or perhaps an author's inner or imagined life, may be disguised in the form of a certain type of story or book, the living core of that work still comes from the author's own personal concerns. The last thing that any author wants to do is to be cold-blooded and impersonal about their work. Personality and personal concerns are, I believe, at the bottom of all works of art. That's what makes them come alive.


  1. How sad. I love the Disney adaptation of The Black Cauldron, but have never read any of Lloyd Alexander's books. I will add them to The List.

    I love that quote. Thanks for sharing.

  2. It was only this past February, long after I'd read the books, that I got to see the Disney movie. I didn't dislike it, but you know how it is with movie adaptations of a book one loves - one tends to expect them to be just right, and they seldom are.

    Do read the books when you have the chance - I think you'd really like them.

  3. This is my husband's favorite series from childhood. Also my son read it and then saw Disney's Black Cauldron and he was outraged.

  4. It's a wonderful series. And I know well how sensitive one can be about movie adaptations of well-beloved books.

  5. That is sad, though I have to admit that I didn't realize he was still alive. I thought these books were older than I guess they really are.

  6. The books are from the mid-60's/ early 70's. And he did die an old man. Still, it made me so sad.

    A lot of authors I love are fairly old, and I hate the thought of seeing them pass away one by one.


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