How it used to look; 3; Joy Chant

red moon and black mountain cover

Here’s the opening of my Joy Chant section in 1984;

Joy Chant is an experienced librarian with a professional and academic interest in children’s books and in folklore and legend. Her thesis for the College of Librarianship, Wales, published in 1971, reflects this background; its theme is Fantasy and allegory in literature for young readers. [1] The thesis is slight, disappointingly so by contrast with the vigour and power of her first Fantasy novel, Red moon and Black Mountain, published in the previous year. [2] The novel itself, despite its virtues, is distinctly flawed in execution; and the study of Joy Chant’s work is the study of a steady – and recently accelerated – development in both the theory and practice of her art. Joy Chant’s publishers now describe her as a writer and mother; and many of the changes in emphasis between her early and her later work reveal a deeper insight and experience in Chant herself. [3] Identity and growth are constant themes in her work, persisting through quite considerable changes of style and worked out in terms of steadily evolving ideas which show a growing interest in the process of change and self-development in older adolescents and young adults.
She has created an imaginary world, Khendiol, in which all her novels are set, as Tolkien created Middle-Earth. After
Red moon and black mountain Chant abandons even the pretence of a “frame” story, and instead of bringing characters from our world by magic into Khendiol, concerns herself directly with the indigenous peoples of the imagined world. There is textual evidence for a Christian background to her work, to its moral thrust, which is in fact more obviously present in the texts than is Tolkien’s. Like Tolkien – and like LeGuin – Chant knows all about what Inglis called “the point at which morality and identity cross”. [5] To each of her main characters there comes a crucial point of decision, a point at which the needs of society impinge inextricably upon their own needs and desires, and which can only be resolved by their growing to meet the need. Should they not be capable of that response, then at least one other person, and possibly the whole of society, will clearly suffer. Each decision leads the character to enter upon a quest or upon the fulfilment of what I have designated a ‘quest related task’ [6], a kind of inner journey or duty.

Well! Who did I think I was? I hope that if Joy Chant read this in 1984 she found it rather amusing in its portentousness than irritating in its rudeness.

Condensed from my 1984 thesis;…


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