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 Post subject: HEIDI and other Alpine Literature
PostPosted: 22 Nov 2019, 13:33 
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You know where I'm going on this...

I've just picked up a copy of Heidi (a novel I might or might not have read as a child in the 1970s, I honestly forget) because it seems an obvious link to CS. Indeed, Armada's second cover (Joey + mountain + goats) seems designed to emphasise the shared imagery (to the point of massively over-estimating the importance of goats in the narrative!). Obvious question is about whether this book is an influence on CS? Are there any characters called Heidi in the series or is it a name which EBD conspicuously avoids? I'm a newbie here, but I'm sure long-term fans have gone over the question exhaustively in the past (hands up if you saw this thread and thought "Not damn Heidi again") - so, what conclusions have been reached? And what other Alpine literature has been discussed down the years?


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 Post subject: Re: HEIDI and other Alpine Literature
PostPosted: 22 Nov 2019, 14:09 
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I've never read it. However I suspect that a lot of CS readers have and that they are influenced by it even if EBD wasn't. It's probably also an influence on how other cultures view the Alps, which again would have an impact on CS readers.

I don't think there's any character called Heide but I'm prepared to be corrected.

I also don't recall any previous discussion on the subject - other school stories yes but not other mountain stories.


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 Post subject: Re: HEIDI and other Alpine Literature
PostPosted: 22 Nov 2019, 14:10 
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I can't remember ever discussing Heidi on here nor would I link it to the CS in any way. To me Heidi sits on the same bookshelf as Frances Hodgson Burnett and Susan Coolidge.

That is probably linked to when I read the books....

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 Post subject: Re: HEIDI and other Alpine Literature
PostPosted: 22 Nov 2019, 14:38 
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I've moved this as it isn't appropriate for Special Sixth

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 Post subject: Re: HEIDI and other Alpine Literature
PostPosted: 22 Nov 2019, 15:32 
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I don't think Heidi's been discussed on here before, and I can't remember EBD using either the name Heidi or the full name Adelheid. I think the Charles Tritten sequels are probably more CS-ish than anything Johanna Spyri wrote, with Heidi having twins and then discovering that her bezzie is actually her long lost cousin!

Heidi does sleepwalk, but I think that was a general 19th century/early 20th century trope. And there's an orphan with a horrible guardian, but, again, that's not uncommon. Aunt Dete really is vile - even Annis's cousin or Grizel's stepmother would have drawn the line at just dumping a 5-year-old kid like that.

It's certainly had a huge effect on how people worldwide view Switzerland, but it's also a very 19th century book, with the sweet little girl mellowing the gruff old man, and Clara's miraculous recovery. It's very Calvinistic, as well - as with Little Women, I never really realised how much so when I read it as a kid, but it seems rather preachy now. And the focus is on working-class people - that gets lost in the sequels, but it's originally about goatherds, subsistence farmers and hotel chambermaids, which isn't something you usually find in English language children's books. I wouldn't link it to the CS, but I am surprised that EBD doesn't mention it, especially when the school moves to Switzerland. I'd think most of the girls had read it.

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 Post subject: Re: HEIDI and other Alpine Literature
PostPosted: 22 Nov 2019, 15:46 
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I loved Heidi as a child, but like you Alison I found on a re-read that the religious elements too much. All will be well when the Alm Uncle goes to church - a bit like Naomi? Also a great deal about the life-giving mountain air and plenty of creamy milk. The toasted cheese always sounded delicious but really would have been a basic fondue which is mentioned in the Swisss CS.


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 Post subject: Re: HEIDI and other Alpine Literature
PostPosted: 22 Nov 2019, 15:56 
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I am sure you are right Alison and that most of the girls will have read Heidi in the same way that we had read the Secret Garden, the Little Princess and Little Lord Fauntleroy.

In fact I realised recently that my Czech mother had read Little Lord Fauntleroy in Czech in around 1920 which made me wonder how widely translated Frances Hodgson Burnett would have been? I still have her copy....

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 Post subject: Re: HEIDI and other Alpine Literature
PostPosted: 22 Nov 2019, 16:19 
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I read my copy of Heidi so often that it fell apart. It has never even crossed my mind that it's the same part of the world as the CS!
That says more about me than the books, probably. I've never revisited it as an adult, though, unlike Edith Nesbit's books which I still love. And I couldn't bear to read Frances Hodgson Burnett now, they upset me enough when I was young and insensitive!


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 Post subject: Re: HEIDI and other Alpine Literature
PostPosted: 22 Nov 2019, 17:21 
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cestina wrote:
In fact I realised recently that my Czech mother had read Little Lord Fauntleroy in Czech in around 1920 which made me wonder how widely translated Frances Hodgson Burnett would have been? I still have her copy....


Little Lord Fauntleroy was incredibly popular. I have no idea why!! There've even been films made of it in various different languages.

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 Post subject: Re: HEIDI and other Alpine Literature
PostPosted: 22 Nov 2019, 17:39 
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I also loved Heidi as a child (I even had a Heidi paper doll), but also didn't really connect it with the CS books, or either of them with Four Plus Bunkle (which is set in France and Switzerland). I don't know why - perhaps because they're all such different stories: Heidi is a redemption story, the CS books are school stories, Four Plus Bunkle is junior James Bond stuff. That's not to say that they don't each contain elements of the other things (like Jo going off to rescue Elizaveta, or Eustacia being redeemed through injury), but to me, those are the dominant themes.

I have another of Johanna Spyri's books called Children of the Alps, which I seem to remember is what Charles Tritten based his Heidi sequels on. I've never read any of EJO's stories with a Swiss setting, and the only other Alpine book I can think of at the moment is Malcolm Saville's The Sign of the Alpine Rose, which is set in Austria.

PS I think there is a very minor CS character called Heidi towards the end of the series - younger sister of the almost equally anonymous Maria Zinkel.
PPS Seconding Alison's comment about the popularity of Little Lord Fauntleroy - when I visited my penfriend in Norway in my teens she was reading a Norwegian translation of it, and I know there's a Japanese one.
Edited to correct a typo


Last edited by Noreen on 22 Nov 2019, 22:06, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: HEIDI and other Alpine Literature
PostPosted: 22 Nov 2019, 21:02 
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I absolutely loved Little Lord Fauntleroy and am considering revisiting it as a bedtime reading book to 102 year old Rose...

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 Post subject: Re: HEIDI and other Alpine Literature
PostPosted: 22 Nov 2019, 21:59 
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Another one whose never linked CS and Heidi despite the setting


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 Post subject: Re: HEIDI and other Alpine Literature
PostPosted: 22 Nov 2019, 22:08 
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I wonder what it is that authors and readers want out of an Alpine setting?


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 Post subject: Re: HEIDI and other Alpine Literature
PostPosted: 23 Nov 2019, 01:29 
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Alison H wrote:
I don't think Heidi's been discussed on here before, and I can't remember EBD using either the name Heidi or the full name Adelheid.


There are two Heidis at the Chalet School, but both are very minor characters. Heidi Blaser is mentioned in Coming of Age as winning a race during the Sale, and Heidi Zinkel who is in Jack Lambert's form in Feud. There is also Heidi Tratschin, the daughter of the woman in Trials who owns the house where the Sixth spends half-term.

Heidi as the book is also referenced twice in the series: Lesley reads it in hospital when Jo goes to visit her and Prunella after the latter saves Margot; and it is one of the books the Sixth use for their scenes in Leader.

Noreen wrote:
I wonder what it is that authors and readers want out of an Alpine setting?


It probably harks back to the Victorian idea of the Alps being a wild and rather dangerous place where exciting things could happen that would never occur in the safe world of England/Britain. It's more natural for dangers to happen in mountains and alpine villages than towns in Surrey or Yorkshire.

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 Post subject: Re: HEIDI and other Alpine Literature
PostPosted: 23 Nov 2019, 02:05 
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I never read Heidi in full; we had an abridged version for very young readers. My sister is Heidi, so she was excited to have “her” book which she didn’t want to share!

I loved Fauntleroy, even on recent rereads. It just seems so innocent and gentle. I also liked Little Princess, Secret Garden and (my favourite of hers) the Lost Prince.

Switzerland, and the Alps, always seemed an ideal setting. Beautiful scenery, towering mountains, lakes, forests, castles, plus the open air, fresh food, rich milk and luxe desserts. Isn’t it in Switzerland that Katy meets her future husband?


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 Post subject: Re: HEIDI and other Alpine Literature
PostPosted: 23 Nov 2019, 18:13 
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Noreen wrote:
I wonder what it is that authors and readers want out of an Alpine setting?


An extremely good question. AS regards authors, I presume that EBD and Johanna Spyri would give vey different answers: Spyri spent much of her life in rural Switzerland and so the Alps was just her normal environment (according to the short bio in my copy of Heidi) and may have envisaged readers with similar familiarity. EBD, of course, saw the Alps as a holiday-maker and must have assumed that the vast majority of her readers had no first-hand experience. EBD gives much longer descriptions of Alpine meadows, perhaps reflecting a sense that this would be an exotic selling point of the series.

As others have noted, the attraction of the Alpine setting must be its natural features. It offers both the beauty of summer flowers and the bleakness of a winter. Heidi covers both seasons but in any individual CS book you tend to get one or the other depending on which term it is.

so, I'm about 40% of the way through Heidi, and, obviously, anything I say now is subject to revision as the story goes on. It is very much a book which opposes nature to culture. Heidi spends her days in the pastures and, at age 8, has never been to school. her grandfather doesn't hold with such things, and nor indeed does she, because when she is yanked off to the city she hates it and is just waiting to go home. She is consistently described as, or associated with, the local animals. Since Nature is always a positive idea here, there have so far been none of the dramatic storms, flashfloods etc which punctuate EBD's Tyrolean books. I don't know where this is going to end. Either Heidi will head out of town, get back to the pastures in an uneducated state (validating nature over culture) or perhaps she'll achieve a synthesis of both.

Chalet girls, I think, are expected to be such a synthesis of nature and culture, demonstrating understanding of both. That isn't laid on too thickly, but tends to become a theme when the school is contrasted with others. Online discussion about the difference between the CS and the Saints tends to deal with the cultural issues (celebrating the internationalism of the CS with the parochialism of the Saints) but the difference between them is also about nature. The CS understands the natural environment around them. The Saints don't bother to learn. They wear inappropriate footwear on rambles and their ignorance of the differences in ice thickness in different parts of the lake nearly leads to disaster. Then (and I suggest this only tentatively. I really should read it again before making large assertions) there's Eustacia. When she enters the series, she is the most cultured person we have yet seen (Oxford, Classics) but is a terrible person. Only by meeting Nature in a similarly-escalated form can she achieve her proper self and become a proper Chalet girl, taking the name Stacey. Heidi, in a very EBD touch, is also caught between a long, formal name - Adelaide - and the shorter one which she prefers and which is tied to her 'authentic' persona.


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 Post subject: Re: HEIDI and other Alpine Literature
PostPosted: 23 Nov 2019, 22:29 
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That's as an interesting point. I think EBD definitely liked her characters to understand their environment. Being described as 'weather wise' is definitely a complement. And she does show the CS as being superior to the Saints because of, among other things, they're being better adapted to local conditions. But she also writes some very positive passages about Innsbruck so she doesn't write off urban living entirely.


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 Post subject: Re: HEIDI and other Alpine Literature
PostPosted: 23 Nov 2019, 22:48 
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There was a big getting back to nature "thing" in the inter-war years, from Winnie the Pooh to the Kinder Scout Mass Trespass :lol: , as a reaction to the horrors of the Great War. It was an international phenomenon, although it perhaps got discredited because of the Nazi youth movements picking up on it. Going against that was the jazz/Flapper culture, which EBD clearly disliked.

But I think there were limits to how far EBD and her characters were prepared to get into it. Spending one night in a goatherd's hut is a jolly jape, but it's hard to imagine the dainty CS girls moving into a mountain hut and sleeping in beds made of hay every night, or Jem and Jack herding goats. Likewise, Heidi would have hated sleeping in a dormitory with flowery curtains and being told her place on the bath rota: she'd have felt trapped. I am with the CS girls on this one - I love mountains and lakes, but I do not do well without creature comforts!

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 Post subject: Re: HEIDI and other Alpine Literature
PostPosted: 24 Nov 2019, 22:15 
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“Synthesis of nature and culture” covers a large amount of ground and, yes, the CS girls would certainly occupy a comfier part of that spectrum that Heidi. I’m now three-quarters of the way through Heidi and I’m sure no-one’ll be surprised to hear that she has indeed learned to read and pray and has returned to the mountain, spreading literacy and church-going to wherever it is needed. I think I‘m groping towards a sense that the Alps is being used in several European novels as the site to dramatise this nature/culture polarity and characters’ attempts to position themselves correctly within it. If this (the bit in bold) is correct, then it leads me to some other observations on CS, but is it correct? I haven’t read nearly enough Alpine literature to know. Indeed, a lot of that literature would probably be in German, a language I never learnt. Cestina, your comments elsewhere suggest to me that you read German books – do you have a wider sense of the ‘meaning’ of the alps in the European psyche?


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 Post subject: Re: HEIDI and other Alpine Literature
PostPosted: 24 Nov 2019, 22:34 
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If we look at the obsession with scaling the Matterhorn and the other Alpine peaks in the 1850s and 1860s, that says quite a lot ... and it was a largely British thing, rather than being dominated by Swiss, Austrian, French and Italian climbers as you might expect. I suppose it was all to do with the conquest of nature, but so many people were prepared to die in the attempt - and, sadly, many did. There's been a psychological thing about the Alps since the days of the Roman Empire, and probably earlier, because they were so hard to cross.

From EBD's viewpoint, the Alps provided drama. Where would the Swiss books, in particular, have been without all those floods, blizzards and avalanches :lol: ? Not to mention all the times someone falls into a lake or nearly goes over a cliff. Also, from quite early on in the days of Alpinism, women were involved - we see Eustacia and Thekla being quite shocked that the girls go clambering up mountains, so there's a bit of women's lib in there.

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