I was shocked, as I expect many who read this blog will have been, by the death of Diana Wynne Jones. I'm not a devoted fan, I will confess that now, so anyone who was planning to write their own obit. can feel free, but nevertheless, I mourn her loss. She was one of those writers that one simply thought would always be there, somewhere, a necessary presence, there to remind us of what fantasy should be like, can be like if you know enough, think enough, write hard enough, a reminder to fantasy writers of what they should be trying to attain. She was a writer of endless inventiveness, originality and imagination, an inspiration, acknowledged or not, to later generations of writers. She knew fantasy inside out and the mythos on which it is largely based, because of that, she knew how hard it is to be original. For me, originality is the hallmark of really great fantasy and Diana Wynne Jones had it in spades.
Taking a leaf from the Bookwitch's blog and adopting a bit of serendipity, going off at a bit of a tangent, I'll admit to another shock this week, with the death of Elizabeth Taylor. Again, I've never been a great fan of hers, but like Diana, I just always thought that she would be there, somewhere, being impossibly beautiful and sultry, a last reminder of a lost world of Hollywood glamour when stars were stars. I read Camille Paglia's article in yesterday's Sunday Times, mourning the loss of 'Hollywood's last great goddess of erotic power' and found myself wondering with her at the contrast between Elizabeth Taylor, the 'pre-feminist woman', and the 'skeletal, pilates-honed, anorexic silhouettes' of modern female stars, like Gwyneth Paltrow, Keira Knightley and most others that you could name. As though, somehow, Hollywood has rejected the depiction of real women in favour of androids.
I don't suppose that Elizabeth Taylor and Diana Wynne Jones will appear together anywhere else, but isn't that what ABBA is for? Nostalgia is probably just another word for getting old, but for me the world will be much the poorer for the loss of these two very different women.