What is the enchanted castle?

Why did I name this blog Entering the Enchanted Castle?

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One of my favorite books from childhood is The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit. The theme has been described as “Be careful what you wish for” — a common thread in Nesbit’s fantasies. The four child protagonists start out by playing at magic, and end up with a real magic ring whose properties take them in unexpected and sometimes frightening directions. At the end, they find their heart’s desire, which has to do — as so often in fairy tales — with reunion, harmony, marriage.

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Learning to manage the powerful forces found in and through our own desires is an adventure for a lifetime. Depicting this struggle requires an image not merely found in nature, but built by human ingenuity and labor. The enchanted castle is our body, a mysterious and perilous construction full of wonders and dangers. It is is also the structure of our social life, a place where we meet other people in different “rooms” according to our roles and relationships. It is a stronghold that can be defended against our enemies, or opened up to welcome in the world. In its fullest reality, it is where the unity and health of the kingdom is focused and celebrated.

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Restoring health to the world is our struggle and our opportunity, for which our castle-adventures are meant to prepare us. The castle of the Fisher King in Parzival is an image of this. Only found when you are not looking for it, it presents a challenge: Can you not only see, but understand what is before your eyes? Can you ask the right question at the right moment? And what will you do when you’ve completely and utterly failed, when all hope seems lost?

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Such questions are the ones that preoccupy me right now, and that I’d like to explore on this new blog. I’m not entirely sure what form those ruminations will take, but I know this is a quest worth going on. I’d love it if you’d join me, and share your own thoughts about your favorite “castles” in literature, or in your own life.

Images by H.R. Millar from the original edition of The Enchanted Castle (1907)

 

 

 

33 thoughts on “What is the enchanted castle?

  1. I’m excited by this new blog, Lory, not least because this Nesbit, in my view, is one of her most underrated works. I also approve your referencing Arthurian castles of legend and fantasy. I can hardly escape mentioning that my adopted country of Wales is claimed to have the highest density of castles in Europe, with around five to six hundred examples: there’s even a small ruined castle on the other side of the road from our house!

    So I’m really looking forward to how this blog will develop because enchanted castles feature as much in our imaginations as the Emerald City does!

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  2. I look forward to following along on your quest to explore these big questions. I’ve never read The Enchanted Castle and just put it on hold at the library. Camelot, the Broadway and film versions from the 1960s, completely captured my imagination as a child, but those adaptations were more about the adult relationships between the characters than the castle having any important function. The next literary castle to intrigue me was Dracula’s. Yikes! Let’s not go there. When I was in college and planning on becoming a Medievalist, it was the physical reality of living in castles that intrigued me, not their metaphorical or mystical legends. My focus has been on that physical reality when I’ve visited castles in real life. Methinks I’m in need of some enchanted castles.

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  3. Lory, I am excited to see where you take us. I love your thoughts on the essence of an enchanted castle and how metaphorical and physical it can be.

    In my travels, castles have reminded me about keeping some people out and others in. Their history is usually around protection. Yet, so often their very design is aesthetically beautiful adding another layer to my experience. And then there are castle ‘ruins’ that in their brokenness evoke another kind of poignant beauty.

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  4. This is not my favorite Nesbit (probably The House of Arden is) but you’ve made me think about it in a whole new way. And without mentioning the Uglie-Wuglies which scared my mother when she was little.
    Good luck! I doubt you will want to maintain two, especially if you have a big new project on the horizon.

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  5. The Enchanted Castle has a special place in the heart of my family, because I came across an audiobook of it at the public library right before we were going on a car trip, and we listened to the whole book together in one day and loved it exceedingly. Ron and I had read it years before, but listening to it was the first experience of it for our kids.

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  6. Congratulations on your new blog, Lory! I am not familiar with the book by Nesbit but I’m looking forward to reading what you have to share here. May you heartily enjoy this journey!

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  7. I finished a book last month, Giovanni’s Room, where the concept of the rooms of ourselves was explored. I had an article about this bookmarked on one of my Kindles that died, and I haven’t been able to find it since. I am looking forward to more posts on this new blog. πŸ‘βœ¨

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  8. I love your new blog and adore the name. The Enchanted Castle was my favorite E. Nesbit book! It can be freeing to start a new blog. I look forward to catching up on all the posts.

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