Friday, 11 May 2018

Why a Book is like a Dandelion: Misha Herwin




During this glorious May Bank Holiday, when the temperature rose to 25C and the house smelled of summer, I spent much of my time in the garden. I sat and read, watched the frogs in the pond but I also got down to some desperately needed weeding. It was when I was dealing with this year’s explosion of dandelions when I was struck by an odd comparison.

Like a good novel or short story, the dandelion has hidden depths. Not only do the roots burrow deep and tenaciously, they spread themselves throughout the vegetable patch, just as a novel can insinuate itself into the subconscious--  a case in point being the archetypal romantic hero, forever characterised by the urbane Mr Darcy, or the wild Heathcliff. They may not be the best role models, certainly neither of them would make good twenty-first century husbands but they would be hard to eradicate from the female psyche, however liberated we believe ourselves to be. As would be the image of the feisty heroine such as Demelza Poldark, or Scarlet O’Hara.

In more recent times, who has not identified at times with Bridget Jones and her battle to lose weight, or indeed her trouble strewn relationship with Mark Darcy, who of course harks back to Jane Austen’s leading man?

Lisbeth Salander typifies the outsider who kicks over the hornet’s nest and rights the wrongs perpetrated by corrupt organisations or individuals. She stands for the white knight we’d all like to be, with a complete disregard for the rules, who yet has her own moral code.

Not only are characters embedded in our imaginations, so too are places, Daphne du Maurier’s Maderley, Donna Leon’s Venice, J. K. Rowling’s Hogwarts and C. S. Lewis’s Narnia.

Titles too have their resonance and some like “Catch Twenty-Two” have become part of our language. And while you might not have read “Fifty Shades of Grey” you will have a good idea what that book is about.

Then there is the cover. Like the bright yellow attention seeking flower of the dandelion it’s there to catch the eye. New, it entices and attracts, as the flower fades it closes in on itself then finally opens up again into a lovely delicate dandelion clock, like the memory of a well-loved book.

And surely the blowing of a dandelion clock to scatter the seeds far and wide can be compared to sharing a story, in a reading group, a conversation about books that you have liked, hated, or been inspired by, or if you are kind reader who cares about writers in a review.

2 comments:

janedwards said...

so true

Umberto Tosi said...

Thank you for making this wonderful analogy, celebrating the powers of my favorite non-smokable weed, so common yet poetic. It's especially meaningful here on the shores of Lake Michigan in the merry month of May, with dandelions in riotous golden bloom across every lawn and field.