Daily Grail Strange & Norrell articles: V – The Raven King

jonathan-strange

My fifth and final Strange & Norrell piece for the Daily Grail is now online. It’s called The Raven King.

I’ve really enjoyed writing the S&N pieces (almost as much as I’ve enjoyed the genuinely wonderful TV series) and probably could have gone on and on but thought it best to quit before people got too bored. Thanks for all the lovely things people have been saying about the articles. I hope I can do something similar again in the future.

John on the Strange and Norrell podcast Lost-Hope

tumblr_inline_nq6yfomGny1qlr65v_540

The finale of Peter Harness’ brilliant TV adaptation of Susanna Clarke’s master-work Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell aired on BBC One last night and if you missed it then you should catch up as soon as you possibly can (if you’re in the US you’re lucky enough to still have a few episodes to go).

I spoke to @fittentrim at Lost-Hope: A Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell podcast about my own love of the book and TV series, and about my Daily Grail articles on the folklore and history behind the story.

Daily Grail Strange & Norrell articles: II – On Fairies and Witchcraft

jonathan-strangeSusanna Clarke’s 2004 historical fantasy novel Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell has been adapted into a seven part television series currently airing on the BBC (beginning on BBC America June 14th). I’m plucking out some of the more easily disentangled fragments of folklore, magic, and the like from the book (and the show) and taking a closer look at them for The Daily Grail.

My second Strange & Norrell piece On Fairies and Witchcraft is free to read online now, and contains no (or only extremely minimal) spoilers.

 

Daily Grail Strange & Norrell articles: I – The Language of Birds

jonathan-strangeIn March 2006 Leah and I flew over to Dublin, Ireland for the first time in either of our lives as guests at the third annual Phoenix Convention (or P-Con, as most people know/knew it). The guest of honour that year was Susanna Clarke – author of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell which had, at that point, already been out for eighteen months and won a Hugo Award. I, a chronically slow reader at the best of times, had not yet started reading the 800ish page novel, and I think that Leah was only part of the way through it. Nevertheless, we found that we got on well with Susanna and her partner, sci-fi writer Colin Greenland – who were both lovely, charming and funny – and the brief time we spent together over the course of the con was very enjoyable. It was perhaps two years later that I finally finished reading Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. I have on only a couple of occasions in my life finished a book and at once turned to the front to begin reading it again. I thought about doing that with Strange & Norrell but I am, as I have said, a very slow reader. Instead I immediately downloaded the thirty two hour long audio-book version which to date I have listened to perhaps three or four times.

In a piece entitled “Why I Love Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell” published on the Guardian website recently, Neil Gaiman recalled writing to the book’s editor to say that it was, in his opinion, “the finest work of English fantasy written in the past seventy years. I am not so widely read as Mr. Gaiman and I don’t pretend to be an expert in such matters, but what I can say with certainty is that I, like Neil, love Strange & Norrell. The blend of alt. history and fantasy, the handling of Englishness and of English Magic, of otherness and madness, the subtly, the comedy, the eeriness, the epicness – in every sense; all these factors combine to make Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell a work which does not so much stand apart as it does occupy a space that seems no other work could ever fill. It is as though a Strange & Norrell sized gap waited hungrily on some shelf in the realm of forms up until a decade or so ago.

Today, in 2015, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell has been adapted into a seven part television series for the BBC and as I type we are three episodes in here in the UK. With Clarke’s wonderful world of magicians theoretical, practical, and street being beamed into living-rooms across this scepter’d isle, now seems like an ideal opportunity to pluck out some of the more easily disentangled fragments of folklore, magic, and the like and take a closer look at them.

Read on at dailygrail.com

Saint Mark’s Eve

05

Today is the Eve of the Feast  of Saint Mark – a date with a number of strange customs and traditions attached to it. You’ve probably never heard of any of this, but luckily for you I’ve written a new article for The Daily Grail all about it.

Read it now at dailygrail.com (and get ready for a night in the cemetery, or before an open fire)