Wintersol

Here’s a bit more about Eric Thacker and Anthony Earnshaw’s under-appreciated Musrum books.

Unlike most love stories the lovers in Wintersol never really meet. If you can call them lovers. There are 2 protagonists, Christmas and Bella. They inhabit a series of interlocking spaces within the musroid world, i.e. the world devised in Musrum.

The musroid world is a headstrong replica of the world we know constructed on the principle that all conceivable and inconceivable things persist within reality, and that myth is the true history of this or any other world.

Christmas and Bella don’t need each other except as a reflection of themselves and their solitude is generally inevitable – intimacy is just a dream. For a short period they exchange letters which is the closest they come to the dream, but you can’t help feeling that anticipation is more quintessential than consummation.

‘Rotabella, my pretty silver wheel,’ wrote Christmas, ‘I want you to spin the fortunes of my journeys, and carry me hither and thither with the speed of starlight. There are so many places to go, so many sights to see!’

‘Warden of the Snow, Rubicotta,’ responded Bella, ‘I feel already the blizzard of your beard. Red-garbed, white-haired, wooly-mittened, jack-booted, sack-bearing, chimney-creeping, kindly burglar, you are my Garibaldi sprung from the grave.’

‘The laggard postman is no friend of lovers,’ wrote Christmas. ‘Enough of paltry scribblings! I shall dispatch myself, a living letter, for you to open and read. Be ready!’

‘Fly down, gaudy robin, and perch on my finger,’ implored Bella. ‘Sing me the thin song of winter. If you want me to believe in you, do not disappoint me or disregard my final request.’

Eventually Christmas descends the chimney, but the bed is empty, Bella plays a trick and disappears.

On one level the book is a joke which proposes an alternative origin to the Santa Claus tradition, but of course it is mainly a procession of surrealist nonsense with ingenious and skillful illustrations. The book was first published in 1971. Here is the frontispiece

here an excerpt from Christmas’s diary

and this one’s not for children of a nervous disposition

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