Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lorax in a little red hat

Gnomes by Rien Poorvliet and Will Nuyen: This modern classic offers beautifully conceived and executed illustrations matched with straightforward, pseudo-scientific descriptions of gnomes' every aspect.  It's more than a tad dated at this point, but pleasant to look at (especially when one immerses one's entire head in double-page panoramic illustrations) for an hour or so. (faint praise, aye.)

One suspects that many elements here mirror or support the social values of Dutch illustrator Poorvliet and writer Huygen, and that's just fine, but for a modern audience, the glorification of gender stereotypes detracts from the whole magical vibe considerably.

It's also a little risque and violent at points for a book whose cover screams, "I'M HARMLESSLY CUTE!".
A snotgurgle about to grind up a gnome.  Scary!
Not that I'm entirely against these elements if the reader's age-appropriate; I'm just sayin'. 

And with that: 'Nuff critical stuff said. 

Here's a brief snippet from the somewhat heavy-handedly moralistic closing, so you get a sense of the prose style (or lack thereof). Tomte Haroldson, the writers' "informant", speaks directly to them/us in order to share a parting reflection on Gnome society's view of human folly:

"Man runs wildly about in the world of today and lives almost always at nature's expense...We have our instinct and intellect in proper balance; you have subordinated your instinct to your intellect...And that's why we (together) must proceed in three ways: the restoration of instinct, the restoration of balance in nature, and less striving for power...all the other evils on earth stem from the craving for power."

Tomte's criticisms seem reasonable enough. 

Now if only I had the magical powers of imaginary beings, perhaps I'd be able to persuade other humans to follow his advice.  And if only I had the resource requirements of somebody 15 centimeters high, I'd be able to live as lightly on the land as he...

Note to self: Must redouble efforts to reform worldview in light of "magic"; how else can self hope to follow ole gnomey's advice? 

In the meanwhile, MFB.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...