in memoriam: Lloyd Alexander

from the NYTimes:

Lloyd Alexander, a National Book Award-winning author of fantasy novels for young people whose work was noted for its romantic locales, complex characters and barely concealed allegorical depictions of the struggle against tyranny, died on Thursday at his home in Drexel Hill, Pa. He was 83.

The cause was cancer, according to Mr. Alexander’s literary agency, Brandt & Hochman, which announced the death.

The author of more than 40 books, Mr. Alexander was best known for the five novels collectively called “The Prydain Chronicles,” published by Holt, Rinehart & Winston between 1964 and 1968. Set in a kingdom inspired by traditional Welsh mythology, the novels tell the story of Taran, a youth so humble he is not even a pig keeper but merely an assistant pig keeper. (The pig, it should be pointed out, is an oracular pig.) . . .

In 1969, Mr. Alexander received a Newbery Medal from the American Library Association for “The High King” (1968), the final Prydain novel. . . .

His last children’s novel, “The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio,” is scheduled to be published in August by Henry Holt & Company.

For Mr. Alexander, the uses of enchantment were clear: fantasy, he often said, was a powerful way of talking about real-world injustice.

“In whatever guise—our own daily nightmares of war, intolerance, inhumanity; or the struggles of an Assistant Pig-Keeper against the Lord of Death—the problems are agonizingly familiar,” he said in his Newbery acceptance speech in 1969. “And an openness to compassion, love and mercy is as essential to us here and now as it is to any inhabitant of an imaginary kingdom.”
One of the coolest things I will remember from my Master's work was a children's literature class that I took from Jim Jacobs. After we had read one of Alexander's books, Prof. Jacobs had a class conference call with Alexander. We could ask whatever questions we wanted. I just remember thinking how cool it was to talk to an author who has written heaps o' books. At this point, the novelty has worn off, but I'll remember him as the first author I really got to talk to.

Personally, I'm not a fan of the Prydain Chronicles. I prefer the Westmark trilogy or The Arkadians.


Ari said...

I'm curious what you didn't appreciate from the Prydain series.

Th. said...


I've always been sad because no matter how many books I try, I still can't find one of his I like. Mostly it's a style issue for me: his sentences plod, and that's hard to slog through.

I'm still sorry to lose him though--it's nice to have old stalwarts still with us, knowing they're out there somewhere.

Jér said...

Lloyd Alexander was the first fantasy author I ever read, starting with a copy of The Book of Three that I found on my mom's bookshelf when I was nine. I outgrew him a few years later, but I'll always remember him fondly as my first.

Katria said...

What?! This is, quite possibly, the saddest thing I have heard in a long short while.