There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any courser like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!
Emily Dickinson, The Poems of Emily Dickinson
(Quoted in Inkspell by Cornelia Funke)
Inkheart and Inkspell by Cornelia Funke:
I have categorized my last two posts as ‘blends’, as if genres are different types of tea to be mixed together. But literature and philosophy, or even action and literature, are common blends – black tea with green, rooibos with chocolate – especially when compared with, say, a philosophy and action blend (which is more like a beer flavored ice-cream, for example). Yet, a philosophy action blend is exactly what I would label Inkheart and Inkspell. They are an amalgamation of a fiery children’s adventure story with a deep and meandering inquiry into the nature of reading, books, and writing.
I’m taking the philosophy part of this blend not so much as talking about Hume and Kant, but as the manner in which the book is written. The Ink trilogy’s plot is long and winding, sometimes vague, and frequently interrupted by quotations from other children’s books and poetry. In terms of plot continuity, Inkheart and Inkspell read more like an essay than like a normal children’s adventure novel. It is as if Cornilia Funke were creating characters, each with their own particular views on reading, writing and books, and marching them onto the pages just to see what might happen. This inquiry-style of plot feels strange at first, and might slow a regular children’s book lover down for a while, but eventually it makes for an even more satisfying read because you can’t possibly guess what the answer to Cornelia Funke’s latest question will be.
A small note: It does take a while to get used to this style of adventure writing. I would definitely read at least the first two books before making a judgment, because it has a way of growing on one.
Beverage recommendation: while I am quite partial to beer-flavored ice-cream, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend having some with these books. A nice earthy, grassy green tea would do nicely, especially for the Wayless Wood scenes.
Reminds me of: all the other books I need to read – Funke must quote hundreds of spectacular sounding books, each of which made me want to run to the library, were it not for the fact that I was already reading her own lovely work.
Check back in a few weeks for a review of this trilogy’s finale: Inkdeath