Days on the Disc and the end of an era

“The work of the angels never stops.”

Paul Shapera

Normally I hate this kind of thing. Inevitably it goes maudlin, or trite, or generally incoherent and stupid. And I really, really don’t want that. But, equally, I feel like I can’t let the death of Sir Terry Pratchett pass without saying something.

Recently I’ve been turning away from his novels. I’ve been complaining to anyone who will listen about their conservatism, their cod philosophy, their reliance on plot, pretentious English student that I am. And I stand by that. Some of that, anyway. But that cannot change the fact that I grew up with Discworld; that they first made me see that fantasy could be subversive and funny and true in a way that Tolkien, bless him, never was; that they taught me humanism in a Catholic environment; that they taught me that the world could be hard but that there was always hope. It does not change the fact that Granny Weatherwax and Moist von Lipwig and Samuel Vimes and Susan Sto Helit and Death and Tiffany Aching and Nanny Ogg and Captain Carrot and Gaspode the Wonder Dog and all the inhabitants of Pratchett’s brilliant and beautiful world have walked with me for ten years, and that they do so still.

I’m convinced that no literary love affair can ever quite replace a young person’s enthusiasm for the authors with which they grew up. Which is simply a pretentious way of saying that no China Mieville, no House of Leaves, no Catherynne Valente, however clever or diverse or well-told, will ever really be able to contend with Terry Pratchett’s novels, with all their flaws, in my mind. Too much of what I am is built upon what Discworld gave me, for good or for ill. It will always sit in my heart, I think, nestled right in close with Frodo and Sam.

No-one remembers the singer. The song remains.

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