Friday, 3 December 2010


There's a lot of it about. It's a bit of cliche when it comes to writing novels - or films for that matter - for the weather to reflect the inner turmoil of the characters' lives. Stormy weather means a row or a fight is coming. A prolonged winter landscape means someone is feeling, well, cold towards his fellow man. Hot weather and beaches means... fun, frolics, love.
These last few days though prove that there is a real basis to these literary devices. Britain is really feeling the chill. One newspaper, The Times, speaks of us being 'Frozen Out', not just in terms of the frost but in terms of the Football World's decision to take the World Cup to a country other than England. We speak of the Winter of Discontent, and unhappy period in 1978 when industrial relations broke down and the economy ground to a halt. There are no mass strikes right now, but you do get the very real sense of a country battling the elements. And in Britain we are not used to that, and so it is making us feel very unhappy.
The snow novelty - the snowvelty, if you like - has undoubtedly worn off. Now all we care about is staying warm (and with headlines like 'two pensioners freeze to death' who can blame us?) and getting to our destination, safely and without too much of a delay.
The winterscape has revived my interest in Stieg Larsson's Millenium trilogy. He captures the snowy wastes of the Swedish countryside very well. In Girl with the Dragon Tatoo, the main character is in an exile, of sorts, stuck in a tiny snowcovered village, huddled round his wood burning stove. Its extremely evocative.
Another Swedish writer, Tove Jansson, captures the chilliest season perfectly in A Winter Book, a collection of stories about nesting, living with nature, and survival.
Other snowy reads include the Harry Potters - Hogwarts is always laden with snow at some point or other - and of course Narnia. But of the children's reads, if you can call them that, Northern Lights has to be the best at conveying the sheer physical gasping risky reality of snow and subzero temperatures. Read the passage with Lyra on the back of the Polar Bear: you can imagine holding on to his fur yourself.

No comments:

Post a Comment