The Lion, the Witch and the Sand Dobbies

The "lull" week leading up to New Year's Eve is a wonderful time to bury yourself within the pages of a book. Currently, I'm working on two: a biography entitled "The C.S. Lewis Chronicles" by Colin Duriez, and a bit of local folklore entitled "The Mutinous Wind" by Elizabeth Reynard. Interestingly, I'm discovering some overlapping themes that cause me to wonder if Reynard ever crossed paths with C. S. Lewis ... or perhaps even J. R. R. Tolkien!

When I was a youngster, one of the books in my collection was Lewis's classic "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." As I reached my high school years during the mid-1970's, Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" was quite popular. And in adulthood, as I became interested in Cape Cod history and folklore I discovered "The Narrow Land\ by Reynard. Yet, it wasn't until recently that I picked up another Reynard book - \The Mutinous Wind" - about the 18th century Eastham witch Maria Hallett and the spells she spun which eventually sent the pirate ship Whydah to the ocean floor and sent her pirate sweetheart 'Black Sam' Bellamy to his watery grave.

The similarities between "The Mutinous Wind," "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," and Tolkien's "The Hobbit" are interesting to note. "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" was published in 1950; "The Mutinous Wind" in 1951. The map of "The Dune Country" on the inside cover of Reynard's book reminds one of similar maps of fictional Narnia. The Dune Country map includes such places as the Secret Island,  the Golden Marsh, the Hidden Path, and the Green Pool. Both stories include a witch, talking beasts, and a battle between good and evil. While the Sand Dobbies of Reynard's story, which are fairies that live along the dunes of the outer Cape, remind one in a way of Hobbits ("The Hobbit" was published in 1937).  They even sound similar - Dobbies ... Hobbits

Of course, I'm having a little bit of fun with this subject. C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien - two great thinkers and writers of the 20th century - were close friends and read aloud their work to one another at weekly meetings (many times in local pubs near Oxford). Although Cape Cod's Elizabeth Reynard was herself a very good writer (as well as an important collector of local folklore), I'm pretting certain that she never sat in on one of Lewis's/Tolkien's Inkling meetings. Yet, if you've already read the Chronicles of Narnia and the Ring stories, and are looking for something with a local twist, check out "The Mutinous Wind" by E. Reynard.

Just beware of the Sand Dobbies, for as Reynard writes: "Dobbies be troublesome imps at most ... Dobbies be witch familiars!"

Jack Sheedy

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