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Old 03-21-2015   #41
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Re: Walter de la Mare Strangers and Pilgrims

There's a real tension in de la Mare, I think, between the earlier Poe influence on his work and the later James influence, especially since, as we all know, James loathed Poe (and I suspect Poe would have been happy to return the sneer).
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Old 03-21-2015   #42
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Re: Walter de la Mare Strangers and Pilgrims

And Cormac McCarthy has no love for James or Proust. Interesting. I find it fascinating, or just plain amusing, when writers speak honestly of writers they admire--or loathe.
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Old 03-21-2015   #43
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Re: Walter de la Mare Strangers and Pilgrims

"I find it fascinating, or just plain amusing, when writers speak honestly of writers they admire--or loathe."

Indeed, and de la Mare in this regard cannot be outdone, I feel, in his masterly skewering of the loathsome Ezra Pound:

"What an unspeakable sixteenth he is, with his patchoulied fallaleries".

Oh, and apropos of "The Riddle", my view of it is perhaps too conventional, but for me it has to do with the inevitable passage from childhood to old age, and the gulf between them; "innocence" and "experience", and how the two perspectives are completely incommensurable--that the one can never understand the other, as the children simply cannot or will not remember their grandmother's warning. That childhood cannot be prolonged indefinitely, however much we may wish otherwise, and that the descent into experience cannot be avoided. The theme recurs in "Alice's Godmother".

Of course, I agree that there is no definitive answer.

As a parenthetical, I also wonder whether there is a link between the seven children, who all seem to have unique temperaments, and Shakespeare's "seven ages of man".

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Old 03-21-2015   #44
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Re: Walter de la Mare Strangers and Pilgrims

As a parenthetical, I also wonder whether there is a link between the seven children, who all seem to have unique temperaments, and Shakespeare's "seven ages of man"-Al de Baran

It wouldn't surprise me. De la Mare breathed that kind of subtlety.
One day I may put forth my own interpretation of the conclusion of "Out of the Deep"...I've never yet found a critic who advanced a specific view on it, probably because de la Mare inteentionally left it wide open.
Your reading of "The Riddle" is a good one, as is kyngathin's. Sometimes the interpretations are as fascinating as the riddle itself.

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Old 03-22-2015   #45
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Re: Walter de la Mare Strangers and Pilgrims

"Sometimes the interpretations are as fascinating as the riddle itself."

Indeed, and as I believe you mention elsewhere, part of the difficulty with de la Mare's tale is defining the riddle, itself.

I think that the riddle, at least on the mundane, literal plane, is "what happens to the children; where do they go?". And aside from proposing that they enter a different realm, which I interpret as being that of Blake's "experience", the riddle is in that sense without an answer.
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Old 03-22-2015   #46
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Re: Walter de la Mare Strangers and Pilgrims

No doubt you're aware of this, Al de Baran, but I'll post it anyway for others:

http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10313.html
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Old 03-23-2015   #47
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Re: Walter de la Mare Strangers and Pilgrims

Re: Seaton's Aunt.

I was curious to read Sand's comment that Seaton could be considered the locus of the supernatural element in the story rather than his eponymous Aunt. This has always been one of those stories for which I'd never quite 'bottomed-out' on all the possibilities. There's been a suggestion in my mind (especially given the last line of the story) that Seaton is already physically dead right from the beginning.

"The iniquity of oblivion blindly scatters her poppy seed and when wretchedness
falls upon us one summerís day like snow, all we wish for is to be forgotten." - WG Sebald
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Old 03-23-2015   #48
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Re: Walter de la Mare Strangers and Pilgrims

One of my favorite radio shows, The Black Mass, did an adaptation of "All Hallows".

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Old 04-03-2015   #49
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Re: Walter de la Mare Strangers and Pilgrims

As a matter of fact, I was not aware that the de la Mare retellings had been re-printed, so thanks (more formally) for that notice, Druidic.

That book of de la Mare's reminds me just how wonderfully prolific de la Mare was once he had managed to escape being "Standardized". The volume and variety of his output seem very healthy, to me, and not at all indicative of the sort of egotism and ambition Nietzsche rightly characterized as the vulgarity of those who feel they must create continually.

That said, and as a wistful side note, I wish only that de la Mare's escape route were available to more of us. There are many more "mute, inglorious Miltons" in our time, I sometimes suspect, than ever there were in Gray's churchyard.
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Old 04-04-2015   #50
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Re: Walter de la Mare Strangers and Pilgrims

For you, Al de Baran and all other de la Mare admirers on this Easter.


THE LISTENERS by Walter de la Mare

“Is there anybody there?” said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grass
Of the forest’s ferny floor;
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller’s head:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
“Is there anybody there?” he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
By the lonely Traveller’s call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
‘Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:–
“Tell them I came, and no one answered,
That I kept my word,” he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hoofs were gone.

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