: Roni Natov
: 66.55 MB
Through his historical novels, adventure stories, ghost stories, satires, fairy tales, and retellings of myths and legends, Leon Garfield consistently portrays the mystery of human identity, which he describes as "the only mystery one can unravel endlessly". In this first book-length study of the author of Smith (1967), The Apprentices (1976), John Diamond (1981), and The December Rose (1986), Roni Natov engagingly chronicles the career of a natural storyteller, a man whose work is permeated with the theme of spiritual renewal. Natov, asserts that, like Charles Dickens (to whom he is most often compared) and the romantics before him, Garfield explores how the outcast child finds the potential to repair the fractured family by creating symbolic bonds with the larger community. Virtually all Garfield's work, Natov argues, gives voice to the private concerns of those rendered poor and impotent by class and social order. She shows how in his largely allegorical works Garfield dramatizes the problems of members of the underclass while asserting their individualism and vitality. An insightful and biographically rich interview with Garfield prefaces Natov's lucid, genre-organized study. From there she analyzes the theme of the search for the father in Garfield's early novels and proceeds to cover the ghost stories, the fiction of satire and parody, the historical fiction, the myths, fairy tales, and legends, and what she calls the "new morality" in Garfield's fiction. In discussing Garfield's later novels she focuses again on the theme of the search for the father. In assessing Garfield's place among contemporary children's writers, Natov finds him unique in the way he uses his heroes: for himthey represent those on the brink, still malleable though aware and able to articulate their perpetual state of becoming. In them, and in their historical past, Garfield finds hope for the future, Natov contends: she sees Garfield as interested in resurrecting a new social order out of what has been discarded from the traditional story of British history. Natov's analysis is essential reading not only for students of children's literature but also for those interested in historical fiction generally, for, as Garfield has said, although young readers are his primary audience, he does not necessarily write with the child in mind.