He uses his momentary control of all English magic to destroy the man with the thistle-down hair. Then, leaving England forever by one of the newly opened Faerie roads, Stephen becomes the new king of the now-blossoming Lost-Hope. Childermass discovers Vinculus's body and notes that it is tattooed with the last work of John Uskglass.
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As he tries to preserve the tattoos in memory, a man appears. He calls Childermass his servant giving him the misapprehension that it is Norrell in disguise , then brings Vinculus back to life and performs other feats of magic with ease. The mysterious man, heavily implied to be John Uskglass himself, then disappears, removing Childermass's and Vinculus's memories of the encounter as he goes. As a result of the imprecision of the fairy's curse, which was placed on "the English magician", Norrell is trapped along with Strange in the "Eternal Night", and they cannot move more than a certain distance from each other.
Upon the gentleman with the thistle-down hair's death, Arabella comes through the mirror in Padua, where Flora is waiting for her upon instruction of Strange. Childermass informs The Learned Society of York Magicians that their contract is void, telling them they can study magic again.
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He shows the now-restored Vinculus as proof that John Uskglass's book of magic remains, tattooed upon his body. Two months later, Strange has a conversation with Arabella, who is still living in Padua, and explains that he and Norrell are working to undo the eternal darkness they are both trapped in, but are planning to adventure into other worlds. Neither wishes to take her to Faerie again, so he instead promises to return to her when he has dispelled the darkness and tells her not to be a widow till then, which she agrees to.
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Tolkien 's The Lord of the Rings and afterwards was inspired to "trying writing a novel of magic and fantasy". After she returned from Spain in , Clarke began to think seriously about writing her novel. She signed up for a five-day fantasy and science-fiction writing workshop, co-taught by writers Colin Greenland and Geoff Ryman. The students were expected to prepare a short story before attending, but Clarke only had "bundles" of material for her novel. From this she extracted " The Ladies of Grace Adieu ", a story about three women secretly practising magic who are discovered by the famous Jonathan Strange.
Gaiman later said, "It was terrifying from my point of view to read this first short story that had so much assurance It was like watching someone sit down to play the piano for the first time and she plays a sonata. Clarke learned of these events when Nielsen Hayden called and offered to publish her story in his anthology Starlight 1 , which featured pieces by well-regarded science-fiction and fantasy writers.
Rather than writing the novel from beginning to end, she wrote in fragments and attempted to stitch them together. But if I had known it was going to take me ten years, I would never have begun. I was buoyed up by thinking that I would finish it next year, or the year after next. Around , Clarke "had begun to despair", and started looking for someone to help her finish and sell the book.
Seventeen translations were begun before the first English publication was released. Clarke's style has frequently been described as a pastiche , particularly of nineteenth-century British writers such as Charles Dickens , Jane Austen , and George Meredith. He writes that "Austen gets down to business briskly, while Clarke engages in a curious narrative strategy of continual deferral and delay. He reappears in other footnotes throughout the opening but does not appear as a character in the text proper until a quarter of the way through the novel.
For example, the narrator notes: "It has been remarked by a lady infinitely cleverer than the present author how kindly disposed the world in general feels to young people who either die or marry. Imagine then the interest that surrounded Miss Wintertowne! No young lady ever had such advantages before: for she died upon the Tuesday, was raised to life in the early hours of Wednesday morning, and was married upon the Thursday; which some people thought too much excitement for one week. Clarke's style extends to the novel's footnotes,  which document a meticulous invented history of English magic.
Michael Dirda, in his review for The Washington Post , describes these notes as "dazzling feats of imaginative scholarship", in which the anonymous narrator "provides elaborate mini-essays, relating anecdotes from the lives of semi-legendary magicians, describing strange books and their contents, speculating upon the early years and later fate of the Raven King". Feeley explains that Romantic poet John Keats 's "vision of enchantment and devastation following upon any dealings with faeries " informs the novel, as the passing reference to the "cold hillside" makes clear.
Noting that Clarke refers to important nineteenth-century illustrators George Cruikshank and Thomas Rowlandson , [iii] whose works are "line-dominated, intricate, scabrous, cartoon-like, savage and funny", he is disappointed with the "soft and wooden" illustrations provided by Rosenberg. Clarke herself says, "I think the novel is viewed as something new Le Guin and Alan Garner , and that she loves the works of Austen.
He argues that the footnotes in particular lend an air of credibility to the narrative: for example, they describe a fictional biography of Jonathan Strange and list where particular paintings in Norrell's house are located. As she explains, "Both Clarke's and O'Brian's stories are about a complicated relationship between two men bound together by their profession; both are set during the Napoleonic wars; and they share a dry, melancholy wit and unconventional narrative shape.
As well as literary styles, Clarke pastiches many Romantic literary genres: the comedy of manners , the Gothic tale , the silver-fork novel , the military adventure, the Byronic hero , and the historical romance of Walter Scott. Tolkien , Philip Pullman , T. White , and C. As Maguire notes, Clarke includes rings of power and books of spells that originate in these authors' works. Rowling 's novels, Clarke's is morally ambiguous, with its complex plot and dark characters. Reviewers focus most frequently on the dynamic between Norrell and Strange, arguing that the novel is about their relationship.
The novel is not about the fight between good and evil but rather the differences between madness and reason—and it is the fairy world that is connected to madness mad people can see fairies, for example. She is hidden away, like the character type examined by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar in their seminal book The Madwoman in the Attic Developing a "divided consciousness", she is passive and quiet at home at the same time she is vengeful and murderous in the fairy land.
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Clarke's book is identified as distinctively English not only because of its style but also because of its themes of "vigorous common sense", "firm ethical fiber", "serene reason and self-confidence", which are drawn from its Augustan literary roots. The "muddy, bloody, instinctual spirit of the fairies" is equally a part of its Englishness, along with "arrogance, provincialism and class prejudice". As Feeley notes, "The idea of fairies forming a hidden supernatural aristocracy certainly predates Spenser and Shakespeare , and seems to distinguish the English tales of wee folk from those of Scotland and Ireland.
In an interview with Locus , Clarke explains why and how she integrated the theme of "Englishness" into Jonathan Strange : "I wanted to explore my ideas of the fantastic, as well as my ideas of England and my attachment to English landscape. Sometimes it feels to me as though we don't have a fable of England, of Britain, something strong and idealized and romantic.
I was picking up on things like Chesterton and Conan Doyle , and the sense which is also in Jane Austen of what it was to be an English gentleman at the time when England was a very confident place". Using techniques of the genre of alternative history, Clarke creates events and characters that would have been impossible in the early nineteenth century.
She also explores the "silencing" of under-represented groups: women, people of colour, and poor whites. Mr Norrell, for example, attempts to buy up all the books of magic in England to keep anyone else from acquiring their knowledge. He also barters away half of Emma Wintertowne's Lady Pole's life for political influence, a deal about which, due to an enchantment, she cannot speak coherently.
Clarke explores the limits of "English" magic through the characters of Stephen Black and Vinculus. As Clarke explains, "If you put a fairy next to a person who is also outside English society Both "suffer under a silencing spell that mimics gaps in the historical record". As Elizabeth Hoiem explains, "The most English of all Englishmen, then, is both king and slave, in many ways indistinguishable from Stephen Black. This paradox is what ultimately resolves the plot.
When Strange and Norrell summon 'the nameless slave', the Raven King's powerful alliances with nature are transferred to Stephen Black, allowing Stephen to kill the Gentleman and free himself from slavery. The book debuted at No.
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The novel met with "a crackle of favorable reviews in major papers". He argued that, at times, Clarke's Austenesque tone gets in the way of plot development. What is so wonderful about magicians, wizards and all witches other than Morgan le Fay is not just their magical powers, but that they possess these in spite of being low-born. Far from caring about being gentlemen, wizards are the ultimate expression of rank's irrelevance to talent". Maguire wrote in the New York Times :.
What keeps this densely realised confection aloft is that very quality of reverence to the writers of the past. The chief character in Jonathan Strange and Mr.
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Norrell isn't, in fact, either of the magicians: it's the library that they both adore, the books they consult and write and, in a sense, become. Clarke's giddiness comes from finding a way at once to enter the company of her literary heroes, to pay them homage and to add to the literature. While promoting the novel, Neil Gaiman said that it was "unquestionably the finest English novel of the fantastic written in the last 70 years", a statement which has most often been read hyperbolically.
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