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Old 11-10-2018, 05:36 PM   #16
fantasyfan
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One of the interesting things about this book is how it starts out so bleak (so much death!) and with a protagonist who is so unlikable. Yet, it is such a pleasure to witness the transformation, and you are cheering for the growth in the character development. So many negative words one could describe the initial Mary: self-absorbed, imperious, ugly, sickly, sour, glum, friendless, unloved, unwanted contrary.
I also found the transformation beautifully and skilfully dome. And the interaction between Mary and Colin was very effective through all the various stages of their character growth.

The psychological calamity of the death of Archibald’s wife was movingly developed in the last section of the novel.

I’ve seen a few of the film adaptation of the book—though by no means all. None that I have viewed completely capture the luminous joy of the novel. The 1949 Hollywood film with Margaret O’Brien has some success—especially by the technique of filming the secret garden scenes in technicolour and using black and white for the other parts. It does have a number of faults. The robin is replaced by a crow, probably because the American robin is a completely different bird, very shy and with a less red breast. In addition, Colin only learns to barely walk at the end of the film.

The 1993 remake with Kate Moberly is generally faithful to the novel and very well acted. Moberly, especially, is superb in the role of Mary. But still, the slower gentle magical pace of the novel is less in evidence and the subordinate characters are much less developed. Perhaps The Secret Garden is one of those tales that defy the transformation to another media.
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Old 11-10-2018, 06:42 PM   #17
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Here is an excellent article in the Paris Review about Burnett.

https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/...ecret-gardens/
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It is nearly impossible to imagine the best-selling authors of today living in Downton Abbey grandiosity. Stephen King as the Earl of Grantham? J. K. Rowling as the Lady of the manor? Yet for Frances Hodgson Burnett, the wild popularity of her prolific literary output made such a home her reality for nearly a decade—where an overgrown, neglected garden inspired the Victorian author’s most enduring work, The Secret Garden. That she is now solely regarded as a children’s book author would have stupefied her, for she produced fifty-two novels and thirteen plays, the majority written for adults. When Burnett moved into Great Maytham Hall in Kent, she was a far more popular success than her cohort Henry James, who lived down the road; with her plays bringing in more than a thousand dollars a week, she was her era’s equivalent of Rowling.
I thought these were some lovely photos of the walled garden at Great Maytham Hall.
http://blueborage.blogspot.com/2013/...et-garden.html
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Old 11-10-2018, 06:54 PM   #18
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I also found the transformation beautifully and skilfully dome. And the interaction between Mary and Colin was very effective through all the various stages of their character growth.
I also love the character of Dickon, in particular his intimacy with nature, and how their interaction with him contributes to the transformations in Mary and Colin. He can charm the wild animals - the foxes, squirrels and crows - but he can also charm people. Dickon helps to tame Mary and Colin's wild spirits by offering the love of friendship and introducing them to a relationship with nature and something to focus on outside of their self-centered lives. However, I think that it is also fun to watch Dickon develop relationships with other children of similar age and so I think that his friendship with Mary and Colin helps Dickon to grow too.
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Old 11-10-2018, 07:25 PM   #19
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I somehow missed reading this one as a Child. I doubt I would have read it now but for this book club. But I enjoyed it and it is a worthy read. I'm only going to mention only a few things about the Book at the moment. Firstly, I loved the initial description of Mary in India. Who these days calls a Child, a very young girl, ugly! But the description was apt, though the ugliness was of course of character. It was interesting to read later descriptions of her as her character was redeemed and the effect this brighter demeanour had on the perceptions of those around her. Yes, the redemption story was well told, and the garden both an excellent vehicle and an excellent metaphor for this redemption.

The author's love of nature shone clearly through her writing. Though there are particular aspects of nature I love and know well, the change of seasons are not one of them. Visitors to our shores here in Australia who stay a while often remark that they miss the clearly defined seasons of their homes. Personally I am not a gardening enthusiast and am quickly bored if sentenced to digging and weeding, no matter how beautiful the surroundings. But I do understand that many love it, even if I don't share the same level of enthusiasm. So for me the metaphor of the garden was more an intellectual than a visceral one. The Robin made me think of Blake's quote, "A Robin Redbreast in a cage puts all Heaven in a rage". Freedom of the grounds and the garden gave Mary the opportunity to save herself and Colin, because the adults in their lives were certainly not going to do so. And of course they ultimately won their own freedom from their self-imposed prisons.
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Old 11-10-2018, 10:41 PM   #20
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While I know The Secret Garden has a highly regarded place in the history of children's books I wondered how popular it is, or could be, with todays children?

Or if, today, it is read mainly by adults?
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Old 11-11-2018, 07:51 AM   #21
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While I know The Secret Garden has a highly regarded place in the history of children's books I wondered how popular it is, or could be, with todays children?

Or if, today, it is read mainly by adults?
Speaking personally, I first read it in 1952, not long after the Margaret O’Brien film. I liked it and reacted emotionally to the story but I think I appreciate and enjoy the novel far far more now.

C. S. Lewis claimed that most great children’s books are ”specific art-forms” equally read and most enjoyed by adults because they bring so much more life awareness and literary knowledge to their reading. In “On Stories” he makes the point that “No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally (and often far more) worth reading at the age of fifty—except, of course, books of information.”

I suppose that explains why I still like some of the books I read as a young person but unfortunately it doesn’t answer Another Cat’s question about what young people today would think of The Secret Garden.

Perhaps someone else has information on how a modern young reader would regard the novel. For instance, I wonder how they would react to the social class attitudes in the book.

Last edited by fantasyfan; 11-11-2018 at 08:34 AM.
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Old 12-08-2018, 04:57 AM   #22
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My dear friends, I am still with you in spirit but there are practical problems for me to take part in your activities regularly. At the middle of the last year I finished my study abroad and returned to my country, but from then on I have been confronted with loathsome technical problems in connecting with this web site. It takes a long time to open a page and each page cannot be presented as it should be for a lot of things are missing. I hope you didn't think that I am a irresponsible person who had suggested a list of books but didn't take part in any discussion. But I still want to apologize for my sudden missing without informing any one of you.
Today, something strange happened. The website could be opened normally and it seems to be what it was before. I hope it's not a mirage which lasts only several hours and then disappears. But if it would be permanent, I think I will come back to you.

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Old 12-08-2018, 02:45 PM   #23
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How wonderful to hear from you, Spinnenmonat! Glad to hear you are doing well aside from your technical difficulties with the website. It would be nice to have you participate again.
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