Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Belated Literary Blog Hop 
Literary Blog Hop
Last weekend The Blue Bookcase  hosted the literary blog hop by posing this question-

What setting (time or place) from a book or story would you most like to visit? Eudora Welty said that, "Being shown how to locate, to place, any account is what does most toward making us believe it...," so in what location would you most like to hang out?

My first reaction to this question was to begin a catalogue, in my mind, of the possibilities which are undoubtedly endless: for the combinations of time, place, and distance are limited only by my imagination if not by my reading, which fortunately is finite but ongoing.  So, ruling out imagined places which will no doubt appear in future reading my first choice was to go back to the early days of my reading and choose a place that I have visited again and again over the years -- it must be one of my favorites.  That is the world of Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll.  This sequel to his famous Adventures of Alice in Wonderland (another place high on my list) is a world that is worthy of subsequent magical imagists like Borges, who was also very good at creating imaginary worlds.  In my visit I would of course want to travel with the always inquisitive Alice, encountering a world of things that could be seen through the glass and  are thus merely reversed.  This being the first stage in a natural progression in the evolution of higher understanding. The reader restrains rather than indulges his appetites. He enhances his consciousness at the expense of his daily awareness. What fun!

Thought of such a visit brings to mind favorite moments playing chess, but none so wonderful as Alice's journey and encounters with wild characters including Queens.  I often feel that is as hard to make progress as felt by Alice when confronted by the speed of the Red Queen - I must run faster.  

If I tire of this visit I might continue my chess journey into the future world of John Brunner described in his Squares of the City: "Built in the heart of the jungle, The City was an architect's masterpiece -- the scene of a flesh and blood game of chess where the unwitting pawns were real people!"  

This sociological story of urban class warfare and political intrigue, takes place in the fictional South American capital city of Vados. In this world subliminal messages are used as political tools.  The story is most notable for having the structure of the famous 1892 chess game between Wilhelm Steinitz and Mikhail Chigorin.  A far distance from the whirlwind of Carroll's mirrored universe, but it sounds quite exciting.  If I survived these visits I might appreciate even more the comfort of my favorite reading chair where, under the brightness of my reading lamp, I could journey through place and time in the safety of my own home.

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