Sunday, 31 January 2010

Snow in February

It's quite funny with snow... two weeks before Christmas, we're all longing for it. Snow makes Christmas special, memorable and magical. Come February, though, it's a different matter. Suddenly snow is a nuisance - cars skidding, roads blocked, trains late, airports closed. No more magic. I can't stand the stuff, we say.

It's rare that love turns to hate so decisively. Why can't we remember all that cosiness, that fluffy, secure feeling snow gave us at Christmas?

This led me to think about snow outside the cosy, fairy tale image of it. And I suppose as a philologist, it was only natural for me to look at literature.

In Russia, where snow sticks around often til April, books are covered in snow so to speak, and not always in a good way. Russian writers know that snow can be evil. From Pushkin's "Snow Storm" to Joseph Brodsky's famous line "After such snow, there is nothing indeed" -snow is used as a profoundly disturbing and alienating element of existential change.

In Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain, the Snow chapter is a turning-point for the protagonist who barely survives the blizzard. And Orhan Parmuk's novel "Snow" takes the white stuff as a complex metaphor for Anatolia's remoteness and frozenness in a dangerous belief-structure.

Pesonally, I think it's good to be reminded that nature won't always do as we please. That it is still a force of its own.

But that doesn't mean I want more snow now!


  1. I find nature the scariest thing, its cruelty is indiscriminate. Yet it is also the most beautiful and nurturing force..
    I only like to look at snow, from in front of a warm fire with no where to go.. or behind the lens of a camera .. xx

  2. I could think of many more examples of snow featuring in literature - might be an idea there.

  3. That's very true, Anonymous! I'm thinking of doing a Snow Anthology :)

  4. You are SO right! Take away the white stuff and bring on the blooming daffodils. And anyway, we are waiting for grill season to start, right, there are those Bratwurst to kill yet. :)

  5. Margit, are you doing your doctorate on snow? When I was a kid in New York, snow meant only one thing- Snow days and home from school! yeah (I never knew why my Mom didn't like this).

  6. Margit, thank you so much for visiting my blog! I'm eager to read more in yours. I'll be back often!! Love your post on snow - none here in Savannah! In fact, we are getting ready for thunderstorms today... Another book that comes to mind is Smilla's Sense of Snow - a great read!! Hugs, Silke