Source of Inspiration-“The Book of Lost Things”

Quotes from the book:

“Everything you can image is real”- Pablo Picasso

“Deeper meaning resides in the fairy tales told to me in my childhood that in the truth that is taught by life”- Friedrich Schiller

“For in every adult dwells the child that was, and in every child waits the adult that will be”- John Connolly

I have recently ready John Connolly’s, The Book of Lost Things, and found it a great source of inspiration for my upcoming assignment. The novel adopts a gothic fairy tale style to express ideas about the fragility of childhood and the corruption of innocence as the perplexing transition from child to adult is realised. This reminded me of Lewis Carroll’s, Alice in Wonderland in which similar themes are explored. In Alice in Wonderland, Alice goes through a variety of strange physical changes. The unease and discomfort she feels towards her fluctuating body size and losing control of specific body parts throughout the story is symbolic of the changes that occur during puberty.

The Book of Lost Things begins with ‘Once upon a time’, creating an allegorical allusion to childhood in its purest form and establishing the innocent image of the central characters’ personae. While the fairy tale style does promote a child-like quality, the intertextual reference to the Brothers Grimm shows a traditional version of the fairy tales, where a dark and furtive nature is portrayed. This inevitably reflects the loss of innocence of the main character.

Characters such as the harpies, the enchantress in the tower, and the huntress in the Book of Lost Things are used to provide a complete contrast to the protagonist. These fairy tale figures have much weighty symbolic significance as they offer a metaphorical reflection of the characters presented in the real world of these texts.  Connolly’s ability to meld aspects of the real world into the fantasy world proves a powerful technique and reflects his own view that ‘Everything you imagine is real’.  David’s misplaced hatred for his step mother Rose is mirrored through characters depicted in the melancholic world of his imagination. Evil characters are often presented as uniquely female in both the real and fictional world. Characters such as the enchantress are portrayed in a sinister light, symbolically conveying David’s dislike of Rose, through powerful imagery describing her, ‘eyes were black, devoid of colour, like lumps of coal set in snow…there was a sibilant undertone to her words, as though a snake had been given the power of speech’. This bold link creates a negative image of Rose and the other female characters in the novel as they too embody David’s hatred towards his step mother. This audience becomes aware of the strong parallels between the real and imagined world. To the same effect, Alice in Wonderland creates strong connections between characters in the real world and the imagined characters in Wonderland.


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