Essay On American Homes

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Corresponding closely to the model set up by Tolkien ten years earlier, the series tells the story of Taran Assistant Pig-Keeper and his friends, who grapple with steadily escalating encounters with servants of the Death-Lord Arawn that culminate in a last battle against Arawn himself. Check—in this case, the Welsh myths collected in The Mabinogion.

Corresponding closely to the model set up by Tolkien ten years earlier, the series tells the story of Taran Assistant Pig-Keeper and his friends, who grapple with steadily escalating encounters with servants of the Death-Lord Arawn that culminate in a last battle against Arawn himself. Check—in this case, the Welsh myths collected in The Mabinogion.

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It’s by Jean-Paul Sartre, from his lecture “Existentialism is a Humanism.” Here Sartre is explaining the idea of existentialist choice through the anecdote of a man choosing between caring for his aged mother or fleeing France to try to join up with the Free French Army during World War II.

It only sounds like Sartre was talking about Alexander’s novel.

Yet the influence of existentialism can account for exactly what sets Alexander’s work apart from other fantasy series. Taran, who does not know who his parents are, longs to be born of noble blood. At the end of the novel, after looking into a pool of water that he’s been seeking and seeing only his reflection, he states, “Now I know who I am; myself and none other.

Take Taran Wanderer, often considered the most distinctive volume of the series, as in a recent appraisal by Vox. In other words, he longs to have his nobility or heroism be his essence, inherent to him, like, say, Harry Potter, destined since toddlerhood to be the “Chosen One.” But he learns over the course of the novel that these qualities are not linked to blood and thus are not essential: “As for my parentage . I am Taran.” Indeed, Taran’s parents are never revealed, often to the frustration of readers.

Yet when they return, they emphasize the freedom of Taran’s choices: “It does come from our loom,” they say, “but it was really you who wove it.” As they insist, “The pattern is of your choosing and always was.” They thus answer a question that Taran poses in Taran Wanderer: “Have I indeed chosen my own pattern, or am I no more than a thread on her loom?

” This answer is repeated almost to excess: Taran declares, “The strands of life are not woven by three hags or even by three beautiful damsels.Indeed, the future fantasy writer was in Paris when Sartre’s lecture quoted above was given and published.Despite Alexander’s remarkable role in the history of existentialism, oddly no one has made any connection between that philosophy and his own work.He has returned in triumph to his childhood home, and learned that he, his companions, and his bride-to-be will travel to the Summer Country, a land of eternal life and peace. Yet Taran’s sleep is troubled by dreams, and when he wakes he resolves not to go to the Summer Country.This is the traditional reward for heroism in epic fantasy, from Tolkien’s Undying Lands and C. He chooses to remain alone, without his intended bride, and embrace his inevitable death in order to attempt to fulfill the promises he’s made over the course of the novel to rebuild war-torn Prydain, even though his “efforts may well go unrewarded, unsung, forgotten.” Taran has found himself in a paradigmatic dilemma, confronted by two very different modes of action; the one concrete, immediate, but directed towards only one individual; and the other an action addressed to an end infinitely greater, a national collectivity, but for that very reason ambiguous—and it might be frustrated on the way. I don’t mean one set in contemporary America, but one not beholden to the past: free from the vague medievalism of George R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and untethered to folklore or ancient religious traditions, like the Anglo-Saxon myths of The Lord of the Rings, the Christianity of C. At the end of The High King, the final volume of Alexander’s series, Taran faces a stark choice. Could we imagine a fantasy epic based instead on contemporary philosophy? Maybe there is another model for fantasy, one that does not simply eschew the Christian framework established by Tolkien and Lewis that so defines the genre, but complicates it, turning the focus away from destiny and back to moral choice, to human agency.His version of Nausea, published by New Directions, was reviewed in 1949 in the New York Times—negatively, in reference both to Sartre’s work and the quality of its translation—by none other than Vladimir Nabokov.But despite Nabokov’s dismissal, Alexander’s translations are still in print.The pattern indeed was mine.” Alexander’s tone throughout the series is so warm and gentle, unlike C. Lewis’s chidings, that these moments don’t come across as didactic or programmatic, but they fit, subtly yet unmistakably, with Sartre’s philosophy.While the Prydain Chronicles as a whole still invoke the language of destiny, at its conclusion Alexander insists on the primacy of human choice over any design or plan.

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