There were a couple of mentions of Arthur Ransome flying past at Worldcon - one in the Sense of Wonder in Children's SF
panel, where he was mentioned in passing as being superb at invoking sense of wonder in a non-SFF context ("I couldn't stand the books," Farah Mendelsohn added). Then my happenstance encounter with @ActuallyAisha led me to her blog Practically Marzipan
which I've been diving into periodically ever since, as I've temporarily surfaced from the awful con-crud from which I've been suffering*. Passing mentions of Arthur Ransome there also reminded me of one of my favourite heroines in all fiction, Dorothea Callum. And so this post.
Oddly enough, Dorothea doesn't appear in either of my two favourite Arthur Ransome stories, We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea
and Missee Lee
. In the latter case, it's probably because a meeting between Missee Lee, a woman who saves a prisoner's life purely by the deployment of weaponised etiquette, and either of the Callums, whose innate politeness has the GA saying, "My own fault" within a minute and a half of meeting them, would probably create some sort of synergyistic energy loop which would destroy worlds.
But she does appear in this charming crossover fic Pieces
by constantlearner, which begins "The Viscountess St George was homeless, unemployed and widowed." Dorothea, of course, being the Viscountess St George in question.
But why Dorothea? Well, she's intelligent, sympathetic, sensitive, has a rich and varied inner life and still has a lot to learn
. She's a very quick study, but the fact we see and share the learning process makes her more human - more real - than characters who seem to have been born
knowing how to light a fire in the rain with a single match and no newspaper
Also, her victories, being painful and worked for, are therefore all the more real.( Read more... )
*I was reading Ziegler's The Black Death
on the DLR to and from ExCel once I finished Robert Harris' An Officer and a Spy
. The combination of Ziegler and concrud did have me thinking, "It appears cases were already being noted at or in the immediate aftermath of DWCon, in Manchester, but these went almost unremarked. So, before symptoms made themselves manifest, many who had been exposed in DWCon moved onwards, following the customary summer migrations of their peoples, on to Worldcon. With them the disease travelled too, an invisible and deadly passenger...."
** Her finest hour, for the reasons I will explain
*** I suspect that the unfinished fragment, Coots in the North
may have been abandoned precisely because crossing the streams in this way doesn't work.
**** Including at school work. Both the Ds actually enjoy intellectual pursuits, which is a rare thing in children's literature - at least, not to have the narrative voice present it as a defect or at least an oddity.
***** A middle-class boy does something in book 1 which is technically criminal albeit done for the best of motives and, after some sticky moments, gets away with it. In book 2 his working-class friends are framed for acts of the same type which because of their class (their parents, who believe in their innocence, are limited in their ability to act on that belief because the "victim" of many of the acts is their employer and it's the Depression) neither the police nor the local community are prepared to let them get away with.