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Re: Review of 'Swallows, Amazons and Coots'


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Posted by Peter Hyland on January 18, 2017 at 07:13:17 user Peter_H.

In Reply to: Re: Review of 'Swallows, Amazons and Coots' posted by John Nichols on January 18, 2017 at 06:22:41:

I think Mike’s critique of ‘Swallows, Amazons and Coots’ is pretty much spot-on. The author, Julian Lovelock, deserves great credit for writing a book on AR, doing an obvious huge amount of work, and then succeeding in getting it published. I also agree that some of the Amazon comments are harsh. However, John Nichols is right to mention academic reviews, because I feel that Julian Lovelock has fallen prey to the modern ‘contextual’ approach to literary criticism, in which you don’t just analyse the text, but you also consider the historical, political, social and psychological etc. influences on the author concerned. That may be appropriate with regard to some authors, but not Ransome, in my view. AR was an experienced, trained journalist, who wrote down what he saw and what he heard and little else. His approach to children’s fiction was the same – what did they do, what did they see, what did they eat. There was only one very real ‘activity’ which he didn't mention, and we all know what that was. He used his imagination to construct adventures for the children based on reality in a known landscape. OK, there are echoes of ‘Empire’ in Commander Walker’s naval missions but these are very much in the background.

Julian Lovelock has also deconstructed the Titty dowsing episode, and describes it as “more than a hint of the beginnings of Titty’s sexual awareness”. Titty was about ten in ‘Pigeon Post’ and that statement makes me uneasy. I feel it was unwise to include it. It strikes me that Titty’s distress was simply that of a child discovering that she had an irrational ‘gift’, i.e. water divining, but not feeling able to cope with it.



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