Thursday, September 07, 2006


While poking around for other people's opinions of Howl's Moving Castle, I came across this entry. It's a kind of interesting list of things to look for when reading, until you get to point five, where the WTF kicks in.
5. I try to read for...I guess you could call them themes, although I know there's a fancy theory word for them. For example, Howl's Moving Castle--one of the things that the plot does is to restore patriarchy and heterosexuality. Initially, Sophie's family is all single women, the financially irresponsible father dead. All are engaged or married by the end of the book. Howl, Michael and Calcifer live in an incomplete "male" world...a world riskily suggestive of homosexuality, a world of self-indulgence, pleasure-seeking, cowardice, fancy snacks, insecurity and bad temper.

At story's end, all are ensconced in a cozier, cleaner, nicer and more sentimental world, their heterosexuality intact. The witch and her female fire demon are dead. Calcifer, the fire demon who had lived on Howl's heart, is now free of that dangerously homosexual tie. True, it's a NICE heterosexuality that's restored, unlike the unpleasant bourgeois/conventional world of Howl's sister, the world he fled from. You could say, in fact, that the bad heterosexuality/bourgeouis-ness of his birth family threatens to push Howl into unstable homosexuality, from whence he is rescued by the Love of a Good Woman, herself rescued by her love from Feminine Incompleteness.
What. The. Fuck.

Maybe I'm not being fair. In fact, I'm pretty certain that I'm not being fair. Off the top of my head, I can't think of much that contradicts this theory.

The occasionally irritating thing about my review habit is that I do read reviews that point out flaws in books that I love. This isn't a problem by itself, except when it spoils the book for me. The flaws start to stick out like an assortment of very sore thumbs and I can't concentrate on the enjoying the book.

Will I ever be able to read another Diana Wynne Jones book without thinking in terms of sexual orientation?


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