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PB684
Posts: 182
Registered: ‎08-03-2007
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Re: Magic


deannafrances wrote:

 

 

 

When I was growing up there was much more talk of the Boogey Man--if you didn't get home before dark--he would catch you.

If you stared too long in the mirror--the devil will appear.

 Seems in our town in Ohio there was a cursed place called Hangman's Hill --no one would walk over to get to the candy store.  

So it wasn't that long ago the world was a less scientific place. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Yes! And I find myself feeling sorry for the kids today who haven't experienced that simpler time filled with imagination. It was fun to be scared and believe that things happened because of magic or superstition. Unfortunately there are too many real things that are scary today!

PB684
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PB684
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Re: Magic


PiperMurphy wrote:

 

Deanna, I think you make a valid point. Meridia is left to entertain herself through her entire childhood. She would figure out explanations for what she sees based on what she knows. She really didn't have anyone to correct her assumptions, especially since she was invisible in the house.

 

There might be another explanation. The book isn't written from the perspective of our own familiar American culture. I think that might be why the "magic" is so magical.


I agree with you PiperMurphy. I am becoming more and more convinced that the "magic" is the author's way of getting ideas across using his cultural background. I'm not sure he wants us to believe that stairs actually elongate of their own will, but that image may be more an Asian interpretation of the frustration that Meridia feels when she can't get answers to her questions. This may have been said already but I feel that it is like when someone uses a fable to get an idea across...they don't really expect you to believe that animals speak. This may sound confusing...I'm having difficulty putting this into words.

PB684
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PiperMurphy
Posts: 174
Registered: ‎09-19-2008
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Re: Magic


PB684 wrote:

PiperMurphy wrote:

 

Deanna, I think you make a valid point. Meridia is left to entertain herself through her entire childhood. She would figure out explanations for what she sees based on what she knows. She really didn't have anyone to correct her assumptions, especially since she was invisible in the house.

 

There might be another explanation. The book isn't written from the perspective of our own familiar American culture. I think that might be why the "magic" is so magical.


I agree with you PiperMurphy. I am becoming more and more convinced that the "magic" is the author's way of getting ideas across using his cultural background. I'm not sure he wants us to believe that stairs actually elongate of their own will, but that image may be more an Asian interpretation of the frustration that Meridia feels when she can't get answers to her questions. This may have been said already but I feel that it is like when someone uses a fable to get an idea across...they don't really expect you to believe that animals speak. This may sound confusing...I'm having difficulty putting this into words.


 

I think you are right, I also see an Asian influence in the writing. I had another thought about the staircases. I was thinking about the one time that Gabriel introduced Meridia to his business associates. That incident ends up with Gabriel enraged, the two men embarassed, and Meridia mortified and terrified. That time the stairs for Meridia could have seemed 5 miles long because she couldn't climb them fast enough. Possibly the length of the stairs correlates to the reason for the trip up or down.
"When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes."
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EbonyAngel
Posts: 276
Registered: ‎12-22-2006
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Re: Magic


rkubie wrote:

As you read, keep a list of the various magical elements you encounter in the book. What is the significance of each? How do they help tell the story, or deepen your understanding of the characters?


 

Wasn't sure where to put this.

Maybe this board could be subtitled "Symbolisms".  So much of the magical elements are not so much magical as symbolic.  I've noticed quite a few post noting what could be the symbolic meaning of something, such as names and numbers, etc.  Or maybe just another board topic could be started as there can be a difference between magic and symbolism.

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nfam
Posts: 231
Registered: ‎01-08-2007

Re: Magic

This book appears to be full of magic. The whole town is trapped in a magical world. However, we're seeing the world through the eyes of a very disturbed child. I wonder if the magic world is the "real" world or if Meridia is changing the world to fit her feelings. I can't help but feel that the world is a reflection of Meridia's rather warped perceptions.
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kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Magic


nfam wrote:
This book appears to be full of magic. The whole town is trapped in a magical world. However, we're seeing the world through the eyes of a very disturbed child. I wonder if the magic world is the "real" world or if Meridia is changing the world to fit her feelings. I can't help but feel that the world is a reflection of Meridia's rather warped perceptions.

This does make sense, nfam.  Without that normalcy that a average family setting brings to a member then abnormal things can be real  to a person that has suffered through like Meridia. It will be really great to talk with the author about his view and where he was coming from with this delightful mystical book.

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Quzygirl
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Re: Magic

The magic elements at first were confusing at first. I was expecting a more traditional story line. But after I took a deep breathe and let go of my preconceived ideas I was able to enjoy the story.

 

I loved the mists! What a wonderful picture that seemed to me. It made Gabriel's unfaithfulness seem more like he was under a spell and not fully in control of himself. And the mists controlled Ravenna too- she was able to release her misery while in the mist. But thinking further, maybe the mists were the only place that ANYone could show their true misery. Even Daniel was swept up and away from his unhappiness.

 

I liked the mirrors too- how they showed the true nature of the person... or no person...

 

After my initial confusion with all the magic, I began to enjoy these elements- the magic reflected emotions that aren't necessarily easy to put down on paper. The magic paints the picture in wonderful descriptive colors instead of having us just see the facts in black & white. I think this made the characters seem mystical and interesting.

CAG
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CAG
Posts: 218
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Re: Magic

I am so glad you said that. I thought some of the magical elements were mind tricks too. Now, I don't know. Maybe these elements are real magic. I go back and forth.
CAG
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Luna12
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎05-01-2009
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Re: Magic

As so many have already said there are so many magical elements in this book it's hard to keep up with them.  I think the moving staircase is a symbol of how the "house" has become Meridia's protector from harm when her parents failed to take on that job. 
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Calendula
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎04-30-2009

Re: Magic


Sunltcloud wrote:

Calendula, you say, "does it matter?" when I ask the difference between mind tricks" and "real magic."  But you add "symbolism" to the mix and you wonder what the author has to say about the subject. I just asked a question of the poster, who made a differentiation between two questionable realities. I can suspend disbelief; I am willing to read a novel that offers no historical reference, no geographical reference, no psychological opinion, but gives me a plot structure that strongly affects my emotional sensitivities; I think that trying to reduce events to their common denominator, i.e. trick, magic, symbol, might allow me to appreciate them more fully.

 

According to Webster's College Dictionary:

 

Symbol: something that stands for something else, esp something concrete that represents or suggests another thing that cannot in itself be represented or visualized.

 

Magic: the art of persons who claim to be able to do things by the help of supernatural creatures or by their own knowledge of nature's secrets.

 

trick: a crafty procedure or practice meant to deceive or defraud 

 

Which leads me to think that symbolism would be a way for an author to magnify everyday events into universal concepts/principles. The use of magic would involve "others" who make events happen according to their schemes. Mind tricks would be the illusions attributed to a single character, unless some kind of artificial additive had affected the whole cast.  

  

So, I guess, the answer is: Yes. It matters.


 

I'm sorry for the slow reply - my computer has been out of commission!

 

I'm also sorry for sounding dismissive of your question - it was not my intention. I think you are exactly right - it does matter. Whether or not we are dealing with symbolism or magic or mind tricks is absolutely relevent to the story. However, I think it is something that must be determined on an individual, not consensus basis. I'm intrigued by everyone elses interpretation. I'm curious about Erick Setiawan's intention. But, ultimately, what is meaningful to me comes back to my own set of experiences. I beleive this even more-so than usual, because the author left the magic largely unexplained.

 

Again, to me, the "magic" is largely symbolic. I think the unspecified and therefore largely universal setting indicates this as well. At the same time, I think all of these things actually occured in the book.  I think of magic as merely a means to an end. Symbolism, however, has a deeper meaning. It seems that the occurances in this book absolutely have deeper meaning.

 

 

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Calendula
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Re: Magic


Luna12 wrote:
As so many have already said there are so many magical elements in this book it's hard to keep up with them.  I think the moving staircase is a symbol of how the "house" has become Meridia's protector from harm when her parents failed to take on that job. 
That is an interesting interpretation! I'm trying to think back - does it always protect her??  

 

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Sunltcloud
Posts: 933
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Magic

Thanks, Calendula,

 

I love your screen name! It sounds happy, probably because of the image I get of suny little flower faces.

 

You are right about magic and symbolism, and in this post you word your feelings so clearly that I had to take another look at my own involvement with the story. Sometimes I have to give my "internal editor" a kick in the side, make him take a lunch break, because I want to enjoy a literary piece as a whole. I see now how reality and magic intertwine, allowing the reader to visualize the deeper meaning of the story through either concrete manifestations, superimposed magic, or assumptions gained from symbolic underpinnings. Thanks.


Calendula wrote in part:

Again, to me, the "magic" is largely symbolic. I think the unspecified and therefore largely universal setting indicates this as well. At the same time, I think all of these things actually occured in the book.  I think of magic as merely a means to an end. Symbolism, however, has a deeper meaning. It seems that the occurances in this book absolutely have deeper meaning.

 

 


 

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Tasses
Posts: 117
Registered: ‎01-27-2007

Re: Magic

Magical Realism ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_realism ) has long been my very favorite genre and I haven't seen anyone here call it by its real name yet so I thought I'd post the wiki link.  Many of my favorite writers use it to various degrees and Of Bees and Mist uses it in high form.

 

However, I did like the idea that the magic is more in Meridia's head than literal manifestation.  She seems to be the only person 'seeing' the magical surroundings... And since this story almost leaves the magical realism realm for fantasy, I'd like to think of Meridia as being the one who sends it over the edge vs. the whole world being fantastical.

 

If you are new to this genre, pick up an Alice Hoffman novel. She's less literal, more grounded in character emotion and edited a bit more tightly.  Gabriel Garcia Marquez is probably the best known magical realist writer, though Hoffman is by far my favorite - begin with Illumination Night, The River King, Practical Magic or The Ice Queen.

See all my reviews at: Reading Rumpus and Many A Quaint & Curious Volume
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PB684
Posts: 182
Registered: ‎08-03-2007

Re: Magic


Tasses wrote:

Magical Realism ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_realism ) has long been my very favorite genre and I haven't seen anyone here call it by its real name yet so I thought I'd post the wiki link.  Many of my favorite writers use it to various degrees and Of Bees and Mist uses it in high form.

 

However, I did like the idea that the magic is more in Meridia's head than literal manifestation.  She seems to be the only person 'seeing' the magical surroundings... And since this story almost leaves the magical realism realm for fantasy, I'd like to think of Meridia as being the one who sends it over the edge vs. the whole world being fantastical.

 

If you are new to this genre, pick up an Alice Hoffman novel. She's less literal, more grounded in character emotion and edited a bit more tightly.  Gabriel Garcia Marquez is probably the best known magical realist writer, though Hoffman is by far my favorite - begin with Illumination Night, The River King, Practical Magic or The Ice Queen.


 

This is my favorite genre as well...I only discovered the name for it recently. I have read many of Alice Hoffman's novels and quite enjoyed them. Another good magical realist author is Sarah Addison Allen...Garden Spells, The Sugar Queen, and her latest, due out in February, The Girl Who Chased the Moon. Of course, anyone who was a part of the last First Look will tell you The Physic Book of Deliverance Dane is definitly a must read for fans of magical realism! I will most definitely check out Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I've heard Love in the Time of Cholera is very good...thanks for the recommendation:smileywink:

Paula

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debbook
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Re: Magic

I love the magical elements of the story. It is used in a different way to describe what are really universal themes of family, love, betrayal, deceit, marriage. It gives it a "fresh"look.
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jholcomb
Posts: 13
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Re: Magic


Tasses wrote:

Magical Realism ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_realism ) has long been my very favorite genre and I haven't seen anyone here call it by its real name yet so I thought I'd post the wiki link.  Many of my favorite writers use it to various degrees and Of Bees and Mist uses it in high form.

 

However, I did like the idea that the magic is more in Meridia's head than literal manifestation.  She seems to be the only person 'seeing' the magical surroundings... And since this story almost leaves the magical realism realm for fantasy, I'd like to think of Meridia as being the one who sends it over the edge vs. the whole world being fantastical.

 

If you are new to this genre, pick up an Alice Hoffman novel. She's less literal, more grounded in character emotion and edited a bit more tightly.  Gabriel Garcia Marquez is probably the best known magical realist writer, though Hoffman is by far my favorite - begin with Illumination Night, The River King, Practical Magic or The Ice Queen.


It's true that most of the other characters don't see things the way Meridia does. Daniel and Elias, for instance, can't see the bees... which is what makes them so vulnerable to them.

 

But when Meridia is giving birth, her mother sees the bees and beats them away. Emotionally, of course, this could be just a representation of her mother's protecting her from Eva, but it seems significant that she and Meridia see Eva's influence the same way--they both see bees--and it's a way no one else seems to perceive it.

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Jo6353
Posts: 683
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Magic


hookedonbooks09 wrote:

bookowlie wrote:

fifenhorn wrote:
there have been SO many magical elements in this story. At first, I wondered what this book was truly about...I was not sure what genre it fell into. I love the moving staircases, the mirrors, the mist, the bees...every little thing. But I think that a lot of these "magical" things are mind tricks that the characters experience, instead of reality or real magic.

 

Excellent observation.  As I keep reading, I also wonder if the magical occurrences are really mind tricks and emotional projections.

I agree, as well.  And I think that the characters may experience these as ways to cope or understand things in their life.  Sort of like their subconscious mind putting things out there to help them to comprehend or deal with their challenges.

 

Barb


I think children create much magic in their lives, especially as a way to deal with things that they don't quite understand. I think these 'magical' elements are Merida's way of dealing with her less than perfect family life.  Jo

Inspired Correspondent
Immortal-Spirit
Posts: 143
Registered: ‎03-16-2009

Re: Magic

As I've been reading the posts, I kept coming across some readers that had a problem with the book because it didn't "fit" into a genreWhen I read a book, I don't look for it to fitI go where it takes meThe magic in this book is amazingThe bees, the mist, staircases that get longer and then shorter....it's easy to go with it

 

Besides the story lineIt's these kinds of twists that keep me interestedFascinated it a better word.  :smileyhappy:

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dhaupt
Posts: 11,824
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Magic

Well I know it's late but I'm finally ready to discuss my impressions of the magic in this novel. I find it's very metaphysical in nature, very abstract. It reminds me of standing in front of a large piece of modern art and wondering the artists true meaning. It did help the story in the timeless and agelessness of the novel. I did help me understand the characters better and defined them.
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Calendula
Posts: 7
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Re: Magic

Thanks to Tasses and PB684 for ideas of similar books. I can't wait to read some of your suggestions!

 

One that I was reminded of is Like Water for Chocolate - I haven't read it for quite some time, but I do remember the important elements of symbolism and magic.