Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

I’ve been reading the book called Jonathan Strange & Mr.Norrell by Susanna Clarke these past few days. Very enjoyable read. I’m almost through half the book already. The world the author created is charming and strange in a very beautiful and exciting way, and I can almost feel like I’m losing myself among her characters and phrases whenever I read it. Reading the book, like any other good book, is like a journey. I can get excited and tell other people of what I’ve seen and heard just as I can tell other people what I’ve seen and heard while taking a tour of some foreign place. I especially love her whimsical touch of adding references and notes at the blank spaces at the bottom of the pages regarding some of the interesting events and imaginary books, as such things lend much realism and joy to the world written in the book.

The fantastic of her world isn’t simply a random list of unlikely things portrayed in mystical manner. They are quite consistent in their aesthetic spirit and vision, and acts as a device to flesh out the world rather than the focus of it. Like this description,

“It was as if a door opened somewhere. Or possibly a series of doors. There was a sensation as of a breeze blowing into the house and bringing with it the half-remembered scents of childhood. There was a shift in the light which seemed to cause all the shadow in the room to fall differently.”

This distinctive atmosphere of the world continues without disruption, and creates a familiar and charming world filled with all kinds of possibilities without being chaotic, profound yet not pretentious. I must say that I really envy her for being able to pull something like this.

Reading Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell made me think of using such amazing and inherent capacities of fantastic worlds to describe the still life of the real; everyday objects and situations portrayed in different light and angle to capture the essences of the world. A sort of abstract expressionism of writing. Maybe I can have a whole blog full of such portraits and pictures (of words), forming a gallery of twisting corridors and grand staircases (this expression also lifed straight off the book) all existing in some twilight world called the net without an actual physical presence.

I don’t know. Maybe this is the type of argument present in physical photography. Should the photographer be able to capture a holy moment of the world at its natural or should the photographer poise the world to reveal at their fullest potential?


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