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!