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Lloyd Alexander 1924 -2007 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Nikki Gamble   
Thursday, 24 May 2007

Image. . . art and literature don’t magically appear on museum walls and library bookshelves. They’re the work of real women and men who lived in the real world . . .”

from A Gift From Gertrude Stein by Lloyd Alexander,  Cricket: January 1977

In light of the great amount of fantasy that filled his books, one could be forgiven for suspecting Lloyd Alexander may not have lived in the real world. Sadly, this great storyteller was as mortal as the rest of us; LLOYD ALEXANDER  died in May of 2007 at the age of 83. His  "Chronicles of Prydain” were so well received  that he earned a place in the third instalment of the Book of Junior Authors and Illustrators reference series published in 1972. However, he kept hard at work writing further stories and in 2000, when the eighth book of this sequence was published, he was one of only fourteen writers to receive an updated entry.

Also in the early 70’s, Alexander was invited to be a part of the team that created Cricket, America’s premier literary magazine for children. He claimed that some of the most difficult work he produced was for this periodical, and not under his name, but the moniker “Old Cricket”, the sagacious little buggy on the last page of every issue who strove to teach its readers one last thing before they closed the covers.

Of course, Prydain will be his crowning achievement, but some of his greatest works have not been reprinted for many years. In these days of environmental awareness, The King’s Fountain is due for a reprint. Sporting the excellent artwork of Ezra Jack Keats, this book’s message is a call to individuals to stand up and bring attention to the injustice and destruction caused by those in power. The Four Donkeys, decorated with stylistic images from Lester Abrams, would still bring a wicked grin of glee to children and adults as the reader discovers there really are four “donkeys” in this story that shows how poorly we sometimes react to situations, even though only one four-legged beast is pictured. At the risk of neglecting Prydain, the once self-contained legend entitled, The Truthful Harp, illustrated by Evaline Ness, has been given an extended existence by being reprinted within The Foundling and other tales from Prydain. If you have seen a photo of Lloyd Alexander and then look at the portrayal of Fflewddur Fflam in this story, you may wonder if it could possibly be autobiographical. It can, for Flewddur simply wants to be our bard and for his stories to “ring true” – and that is all Mr Alexander ever wanted for him and for us.

Not only does he leave behind a treasury of great books, we will be privileged to receive one more upon the publication of The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio on 7 August 2007.

Written by Thomas Pitchford

The following e-mail was recevied from Sophie Masson:

Lovely piece on Lloyd Alexander, one of my favourite authors--and people. I corresponded with him for ten years after first contacting him through Cricket (for whom I'd written stories )after my kids and I had just finished reading The Chronicles Of Prydain together and moved on to his other books..

And over the years from 1997 right till last Christmas, we wrote often and swapped books-... He was the most delightful, warm, generous man as well as being a fantastic writer--in my opinion the best American fantasy writer of modern times: his work is so versatile and rich and witty and humane and gorgeous--and very influential (including on my own writing). Intelligent, incredibly well-read, he wore his learning lightly and was always ready with an encouraging word, a joke, a bit of self-deprecating wit and was always so kind. He will be sorely, sorely missed.

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3.23 Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved."

 
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