Thursday, April 22, 2021

Something About Self-Referential

Celebrating self-references.

Years ago, fan James Card shared his itinerary traveling around New England back on the CompleatBellairs site. Several years later, Card contributed several pictures to our forum of his journey.

Of all the photos, the one I’m sharing today cracks me up a bit because it’s a paperback copy of The Spell of the Sorcerer’s Skull (1984) from the Vinalhaven, Maine, library. Readers will recall this village is where Johnny, Fergie, and Father Higgins visit in their quest to locate the missing Professor Childermass.  We know Father Higgins spent his day in the "boxy gray one-story stone building" but it's unlikely he went to the children's section.  After all, it would be another 32 years before Spell was published.  (Bonus: the card catalog shows the 1985 Bantam Skylark edition is available to borrow.)

Self-reference occurs in literature and film when an author refers to his or her own work in the context of the work itself. Are there any self-referential moments in the Bellairs Corpus. Well, yes, in a way: Strickland has brought up Prospero and Roger Bacon in a few Lewis Barnavelt stories, and I touched on something about Dixon reading Barnavelt a few months ago.

Do any others stick out? Do you feel this distracts from the story-at-hand or do you find such things appropriate?

1 comment:

Russ said...

Well, You have to consider that the reader is supposed to believe that these are things that actually happened, not just stories. In that case one character referring to something from a story he had read sounds plausible. If you look at it as all this is made up, then I guess it sounds a little self serving. Personally it does not bother me as long as the reader is not hit over the head with it. A passing mention does not bother me at all.