Tuesday, 5 August 2008

The Chronices of Pantouflia by Andrew Lang

I grew up with these two stories, Prince Prigio and Prince Ricardo, but I mislaid my copy and this was the first time I have read them for well over 20 years. My edition is an old one, dating back to 1943, and with the original illustrations, which I like very much. The picture here is of King Prigio flying to the moon.
Although they were written in the 30s, the style is Victorian, and very much "after" Thackeray's The Rose and the Ring - we are actually told that Prigio's family is descended from the characters in that book, and this is one of the ways in which Lang creates the atmosphere of history for children, rather than fiction. He also footnotes particular terms, and comments on the motives and behaviour of his characters. There is a supposed dryness to the style, in keeping with the writing of history, but since the events are frequently farcical, the characters endowed with suitably human flaws and the story romps along at a brisk pace, the overall tone is more one of subdued hilarity.