"After nearly a dozen years writing realism for adults, I felt an indefinable, irresistible urge to write a fantasy for young people. Not for any specific child; but rather, because I believed it could be a powerful and serious literary form. It turned out to be the most creative and liberating experience of my life, letting me draw on my own deepest feelings far more than I had ever done.
"Since then, my books have been children's fantasies -- a term I don't find very expressive or descriptive. In the same way I see no essential difference in writing for adults or young people, I see no conflict between realism and fantasy. Both try to illuminate human relationships, conflicts, and moral dilemmas. I do admit that I much prefer fantasy. To me, it has the emotional strength of a dream, it works directly on our nerve endings, whatever age we happen to be, touching heights and depths not always accessible through realism. In fantasy, my concern is how we learn to be real human beings. It's a continuing process."
- Lloyd Alexander (1924-2007, author of The Chronicles of Prydain)
"There were always tales passed from mother to daughter, father to son. Down through the generations they came, so that we would never forget that place, that magic, that elemental and awesome power that abided in our forbears. In each generation the power of the tales rests with us, the storytellers. I weep, I cry with joy, I exult in the God-power of the words.
"And so I have tried to pass them on to another generation, to keep alive the mortal power of our earlier selves, even as the world changes and dies, sleeps and awakes anew to the force that gives life to our souls. So that some child can hear the tales and find them awakened in herself to pass on to yet another generation. "
- Evangeline Walton (1907-1996, author of the magnificent Mabinogion Tetrology)
The beautiful paintings for Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen above could easily have come from the Golden Age of book illustration at the dawn of the 20th century...but in fact they are by a contemporary Russian artist, Anastasia Arkhipova.
Arkhipova was born into a family of artists in Moscow, studied at Moscow State Academy of Fine Arts, and has illustrated many books for publishers in Russia and abroad. In addition to The Snow Queen, she has also illustrated Andersen's The Princess and the Pea, The Tinderbox and The Steadfast Tin Soldier; Moliere's The Bourgeois Gentleman and Tartuffe; Cervantes' Don Quixote; Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther; and editions of fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm and from Russian writers. She is a member the Russian Academy of Art, where she has the title of "Honoured Artist of Russia," and has won many international awards.
Today is the last in our series of posts spotlighting just a few of the many fine book artists of Russia and other lands of the East. Have a good weekend, gentle Readers, and I'll see you again next week.