Laurie R. King Virtual Book Club discussion

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message 1: by Erin (new)

Erin (tangential1) | 1638 comments Mod
Letting half my brain wander while doing some number crunching today...and my brain wandered to allegories (don't ask why, I have no idea. Something I was reading this morning about reader interpretation vs. author intention, I think). Occurred to me that I can't think of many mystery novels that function as allegory. Can anyone think of any? I wonder why that is? Does allegory have to be intentional, do you think?

I've learned much about completely new-to-me topics in Laurie's books, but I don't know that I would really call any of them allegory.

Thought I'd throw it to the crowd. You guys are great people to ponder with ;-)


message 2: by LindaH (new)

LindaH | 121 comments Erin, you've got me thinking. Wouldn't allegory be intentional to a book the way metaphor is intentional to a poem? That is, the poet doesn't set out to write a metaphor; instead, she recognizes a metaphor and the poem flows. Wouldn't the writer have, say, profound thoughts about the act of murder and invent characters to express them. If I think of your question this way, I can imagine...sort of...how a mystery could be an allegory.


message 3: by LindaH (new)

LindaH | 121 comments Maybe you could make the case that Poe's "the Masque of thee Red Death" is a mystery, since there is a point, albeit brief, when the guests wonder who killed their host, but the answer comes quickly when the masque is pulled off. I think it's an allegory about death and the illusion that some can escape it.


message 4: by Sabrina (new)

Sabrina Flynn | 1158 comments Mod
Wasn't Garment of Shadows sort of an allegory for the current Middle East situation? I think Laurie said something to that effect in an interview.

Lord of the Rings is alway mistaken for one, but Tolkien always said it wasn't, though he acknowledges that his life experiences obviously contributed to the story.


message 5: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea Nara (rainbowfishes) | 1 comments no, an allegory is something that has direct biblical reflection. A metaphor is something separate used to illustrate something, (e.g. Garment of Shadows). The biggest example of an allegory would probably be the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Aslan is a symbol for christ, who dies to save the children of man and comes back. So it's a direct biblical allegory.


message 6: by Lenore (new)

Lenore | 1079 comments Professor Richard Nordquist defines an allegory as follows: "The rhetorical strategy of extending a metaphor through an entire narrative so that objects, persons, and actions in the text are equated with meanings that lie outside the text." I don't think it needs to be biblical; e.g., Plato's "Allegory of the Cave."


message 7: by Erin (new)

Erin (tangential1) | 1638 comments Mod
Chelsea wrote: "no, an allegory is something that has direct biblical reflection. A metaphor is something separate used to illustrate something, (e.g. Garment of Shadows). The biggest example of an allegory would ..."

Actually, an allegory is just a story that reflects back on some abstract thought. To impart some kind of moral lesson. Rather, the bible is full of allegory, though usually parables.

"An allegory is a complete narrative which involves characters, and events that stand for an abstract idea or an event." http://literarydevices.net/allegory/

Narnia is definitely a biblical allegory, but not all allegory have to be biblical..

I found some critical analysis of allegory in the movie Avatar, as a modern example. The ecological overtones and commentary on colonialism. Wizard of Oz is also said to be full of allegory, with the characters embodying cowardice, thoughtlessness, hearlessness, etc (I was reading some interpretation of the characters also being political allegory, but I don't really see those).


message 8: by Erin (new)

Erin (tangential1) | 1638 comments Mod
Sabrina wrote: "Wasn't Garment of Shadows sort of an allegory for the current Middle East situation? I think Laurie said something to that effect in an interview.

Oh, I hadn't heard her say that, Sabrina. I suppose I didn't read that one closely enough to catch it.

Sabrina wrote: "Lord of the Rings is alway mistaken for one, but Tolkien always said it wasn't, though he acknowledges that his life experiences obviously contributed to the story. "

That's the tricky bit! Is it allegory or just context? Similar example is Fahrenheit 451. Everyone who's read it, sees it as allegory about censorship, but Bradbury said events in that book were influenced by the L.A. riots. So he may have been going for allegory, but not the one that everyone sees.

Sci-fi and fantasy seem more suited to allegory than mystery.


message 9: by Sabrina (new)

Sabrina Flynn | 1158 comments Mod
Erin, I was hoping someone else would remember her comments about GARM, lol. I can't remember if it was brought up in a book discussion, by her or someone else, but I seem to recall a comment about how the political situation in GARM mirrored present day situation of democracies meddling with tribal cultures. And how it didn't work then, and still doesn't work. IDK, maybe 'commentary' would be a better word than allegory?

I agree that S/SF is more suited to an allegory. Though the definition is fairly broad:

a representation of an abstract or spiritual meaning through concrete or material forms; figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another.

Hmm, would To Play The Fool be considered one, since the abstract idea of the fool was brought to life in the flesh?


message 10: by Erin (new)

Erin (tangential1) | 1638 comments Mod
I thought the events of GARM were based on what was actually going on historically at the time. It just so happens that we're dealing with similar political situations today. So definitely a parallel, but more geared toward reminding of that adage that those who forget (or never learned) the past are doomed to repeat it?


message 11: by Sabrina (new)

Sabrina Flynn | 1158 comments Mod
Parallel is probably a better description, Erin. Now your question is bugging me too. There must be some mystery that could be considered an allegory...


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