May 4th, 2001
This time I'm not writing about the books themselves! I'm going to be writing about their effect on people and how I view them as a book series.
To start with, I will tell you a story of a child. When he was little, he used to wonder about the world and the universe. It sounds slightly odd for a four-year-old to be wondering about things such as these, you would more likely expect them to play games or watch T.V. But, as it was, this child worried about things of such enormity that he would worry you if you knew.
By the time this child was seven, he was worrying about global warming and giant meteorites, which could wipe out the planet. Now, if you start to think about it through rose tinted glasses, you might think it was good for this child to be thoughtful, but that is a mistake! This child thought about problems which were beyond his control, ones he could nothing about but worry.
Now, at the age of nine, his mind had turned to the big question 'What's Life anyway?' and 'What's the point in it anyway?'. Now, that is a deadly thought! Well, the child pondered this for a while and the first answer it came up with was that the point of life was love. The child thought about this and came to the conclusion that love was just a thing which had no significance outside of the two people. Well, the child thought some more, then he came to the conclusion that all life meant was for things to happen for no reason. Just a process, with no outcome worth knowing. Now, to most people, this seems unimaginable, but, to this child, this was the way it was.
This child pondered some more. He wondered why he should stay alive and he thought about the space took up and the food he ate. He made himself a promise that it was worth staying alive as long as life was good to you and that you enjoyed it. Because, otherwise, it seemed that it was just a waste of oxygen, food, and space.
Now, for the next few years, life was okay and the lows weren't deep and long enough to the promise to be thought much about. Then came the SATs (Standard Assessment Tests), but there is nothing standard about the biggest test of your life, so far, when you're only eleven years of age! Now, there was always a lot of emphasis put on the SATs for each pupil. They would affect you in your next school and they would affect the rest of the school. But, for this child, who was quite academically strong, the pressure was really on especially being the only person in the school's history, thus far, to do an extension paper. Not just one, but two!
Now, some people can cope with exams, others can't. This child was of the second. He panicked each night about the exams and it felt as though this was the most important thing in his life, so far. Then, he remembered the promise he had made to himself years before. It seemed the easy way out, the best thing going.
But, now for a big saving grace. The week before the SATs exam, a Book Fair came to the school and this child, being an avid reader, went along to browse. He looked at all the books in the 9-11 section and saw nothing which caught his interest. He then turned his sights to the 11+ section. Looking around, he didn't see anything of interest- that is, until he looked on the bottom shelf. There, amongst the other fantasy books, was a book with an otter drawing back a long bow. Now, this had him interested. The books which he had most enjoyed before were the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S.Lewis, and this appeared to be of a similar theme. He took a closer view and saw that this book was of a series known as the 'Tales of Redwall'. Well, he was excited! He didn't know what was meant by 'Redwall', but, he didn't care. He decided to buy one then and there. Being quite officious, he decided that he should buy the first in the series. So, he looked on the back and saw that there was a convenient list of titles, starting with 'Martin the Warrior'. So, that was the one he would buy, then. You may smile at the ignorance, but he knew naught of Redwall before this.
After buying, he suddenly realised that he hadn't even read the blurb properly before buying and wondered whether he had made a wise purchase. He then went and found a quiet corner and started to read. It was then he realised it really was a good buy.
He was gripped by the story and read much of it over the weekend, though he did still have plenty of time to revise. Now, Monday came and so did the SATs, but, he had forgotten about his promise to himself. This was chiefly due to Redwall and the effort being put into revision.
All the way through the week he read on, letting him rest his mind from his immediate troubles when it all got to be too much.
From that day on, for three years, so far, he has, whenever in need of escapism, turned to Redwall and has also read them purely for the pleasure.
In the years that followed, he did find the meaning of life: God! His religion, which before he had practised, he now felt.
So, you could say Redwall saved his life!
In case you have not guessed already, that child was me!!
Now, I may not be Brian Jacques, but, I think that example shows how Redwall can really help people and how it has, in a way, saved lives. So, that is 'Redwall Psychology'!
Now, to the second part of what I consider Redwall to be, there is actually a connection with the first part. This connection will become apparent as we go on.
In my mind, I have a basic definition of what Redwall is. To me, it is Brian Jacques sharing his fantasy world, his peace of mind, with others. When you are reading Redwall you are transported by his power as an author to a sanctury. This may seem like a very idealised thought, but I think anyone who enjoys Redwall is of quite a like mind to Brian Jacques in many ideals and dreams. I think Redwaller is someone of likemind with Brian Jacques.
So, this is the connection: Redwall is a place in our mind which we as Redwallers share and it is the medisone of 'Redwall Psychology'.
Feel free to use my ideas. E-mail me with any extra thoughts you have on Redwall Psychology!!