ERIC Number: EJ1036189
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Jun
Abstractor: As Provided
"Neither Can They Die Any More; for They Are Equal Unto the Angels": Secular Epiphanies in David Almond's "Counting Stars"
Children's Literature in Education, v45 n2 p116-128 Jun 2014
Written before the successful publication of Skellig (1998), David Almond's short story collection, "Counting Stars," has attracted less critical attention than his more famous novels. Falling between fiction and autobiography, the earlier short stories are more firmly grounded in realism than the novels, which feature elements of fantasy or magical realism. Nevertheless, "Counting Stars" introduces several of the key themes and images that are explored in a more fantastic way in Almond's later work, and is indicative of how this turn towards childhood concerns initiated his development as a children's writer. This article explores Almond's concern, in "Counting Stars," with finding "magic in ordinary places" and his preoccupation with the nature of religious belief and spirituality. A close reading of these stories demonstrates the author's use of both secular and religious imagery to express the individual's potential for transcendence within the ordinary and everyday, a theme to which Almond frequently returns in his novels. Influenced by the poetry of William Blake, Almond uses Blake's notion of co-existent "contraries" to emphasise the relationship of opposites such as physical and spiritual, real and imagined. In addition, the iconic image of the angel becomes the means of deconstructing the fixed concepts and binaries of the Catholic Church in order to achieve more diverse and imaginative meanings.
Descriptors: Fiction, Autobiographies, Literary Genres, Fantasy, Religious Factors, Beliefs, Deception, Role of Religion, Childrens Literature
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A