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Guest Post: Delicious Pastiche – W.S. Lacey

By Donnambr @_mrs_b

We are delighted to welcome W.S. Lacey, author of Odd’s Door, who joins us to share a guest post about pastiche.

Guest Post: Delicious Pastiche

No, a pastiche is not a light, airy pastry served as a brunch or teatime snack. It is a pie, apparently, but in this context it refers to the practice of using styles and devices of an older work.

Pastiches come in all flavors, from the lowbrow (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) to the critically acclaimed (Mason & Dixon). Surely they have a necessary function, a raison d’être that goes beyond the perennial human drive to imitate and adapt. The form of literary pastiche that most concerns me is the reproduction of a historical style. This is a great tool as it allows an author to deal with subjects normally inaccessible in ways normally impossible. If, for example, a modern writer wanted to express the social alienation and vulnerability in Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame while preserving a credible, organic work, they would have a difficult time. The social context of late medieval France doesn’t exist in the modern world and an attempt to adapt it to the streets of a 21st century city would not do justice to the original spirit of the work. Even Hugo had to cast back roughly 300 years to find the appropriate setting for his work. “It doesn’t follow,” you might adamantly maintain, “that a historical setting necessitates a pastiche. Shakespeare wrote Julius Caesar as an Elizabethan, for Elizabethans, without making concessions to Roman culture or style.” Doubtless, Shakespeare’s audience didn’t mind anachronisms in content or style if they even noticed them. But, as a different bard once said, “The times, they are a-changin’.” We live in a highly literate, historically aware age and we have different standards. Just as we no longer have male stage actors playing female roles[1], we now have expectations concerning the aforementioned credibility. Enough theory. There are a lot of tasty pastiches out there and I’m here to make the recommendations.

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

If you didn’t notice the novel’s 1983 publication date, you might think that this short Gothic chiller was written in late Victorian/early Edwardian times. The style of narration, plot movement, and other conventions are all observed and adhered to. Hill writes in a relatively Jamesian mode without the half-page sentences and gratuitous use of the pluperfect.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

If Jane Austen had written a wonderful doorstopper of a book about magic and the Napoleonic Wars and doomed Byronesque figures, it would look a lot like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Susanna Clarke dwells happily in the period of her choosing, making few concessions of style or length to the modern taste. While that may not work for everyone, I loved this book. Note: Not everyone has the time or inclination to read a 782-page novel replete with extensive footnotes. In consideration of that, I also recommend The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories also by Susanna Clarke. They are a collection of short stories that maintain something of the flavor of JS&MR while possessing the attractions of a Quick Read. About Odd's Door (2013)
Odd's Door
When a woman vanished in Adelard Odd’s room, the resultant scandal closed the asylum at Quartersoake permanently. In 1925, nearly twenty years after Odd’s death, Lewis Spender and Roger North are willing to brave the room’s evil reputation in order to discover the truth.

In this novel by W.S. Lacey, appalling things happen to wonderful people and at least one person goes in want of an umbrella.

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Guest Post: Delicious Pastiche – W.S. Lacey | Thank you for reading Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dave

Guest Post: Delicious Pastiche – W.S. Lacey
Guest Post: Delicious Pastiche – W.S. Lacey
Guest Post: Delicious Pastiche – W.S. Lacey
Guest Post: Delicious Pastiche – W.S. Lacey
Guest Post: Delicious Pastiche – W.S. Lacey
Guest Post: Delicious Pastiche – W.S. Lacey

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