Hogfather the Book: Surprisingly Dark (...Minor spoilers)

Discussion in 'THE DEATH BOOKS' started by Darth_Bemblebee, Apr 16, 2006.

  1. Darth_Bemblebee New Member

    With the excitement over the upcoming TV adaptation, and a close friend repeatedly saying how Hogfather was his favourite Disc book by far, I felt compelled to re-read it recently. I had read Hogfather twice (I think) before, but somehow something about it had never quite clicked. I liked it of course, it was witty, entertaining and insightful as are all Pterry's books, but I wasn't particularly enamoured of it.

    Re-reading it, it suddenly seemed to make sense. Taken in context, surrounded chronologically as it is by books like The Last Continent and Maskerade, you would expect Hogfather to be an equally light-hearted parody - but focusing on it for itself, it really is quite shockingly dark.

    Yes, it's about Childhood and Fairy Tales, and Imagination and Christmas. But it's also about how none of these are quite as carefree and twinkly as they are often portrayed to be - this may appear obvious, but it took a while to sink in for me :roll: Ignorance isn't bliss, it's fear: Pratchett makes a particularly fascinating link between children and early man, both of whom are/were ignorant of why things happen, and have/had to invent beings and stories to explain what the hell is going on. Both were and are manipulated by those that know the alternative explanation - priests then, parents now - to control those who are ignorant through fear, into doing what they want. Consider Susan's rage at the childrens' former Governess insisting that the Scissor Man would cut off their hands if they bit their nails, etc.

    Teatime himself is, in my opinion, the most terrifying character Pratchett has written thus far. Even Carcer pales into comparison with Teatime's psychotic violence......Carcer is, after all, an adult - someone who can be reasoned with. Teatime is still in essence a child. Amoral, revelling in violence for it's own sake, standing on beetles on the pavement and torturing puppies, oh yes. The sound of children playing is delightful, as long as you're not close enough to hear what they are saying....

    Of course Christmas is coloured red and white: Blood and Snow. Of course humans need imagination, or 'wistful lying': if you can't believe the small lies, how on earth are you to swallow the really big ones like Truth or Justice?

    Any book in which Death plays the hero, and an eyeball-fixated Raven and the Death of Rats are the comic relief has to be pretty dark, but bring such horrors as childhood into it, and there's no hope left at all.....

    .........I'd be delighted to hear anyone else's views *Is expectant* :)
  2. Twoflower New Member

    My View:

    Its a good book, i've read and re-read it (like all my discworld books) about 20 times. I agree, teatime is a very scary and strange character. Does anyone think that he'll be in any other discworld books? He's got deaths sword, it can cut through anything, he would be the ultimate thief.
  3. Electric_Man Templar

    Um, wow, you seem to have covered it all.

    I agree with Teatime being a much scarier character than Carcer, they were both psychotic and clever, but Teatime actually considered it. He planned his acts, whereas Carcer seemed to live more in the moment - he had some planning (i.e. lots of knives), but the fact that Teatime would actually sit down and think about how he would kill the Hogfather and Death is a whole different level.
  4. Electric_Man Templar

    Um, Teatime died... I don't think Pterry intends to set any stories in the afterlife.
  5. Twoflower New Member

    did he? i was sure that the wizards revived him......
  6. Darth_Bemblebee New Member

    As we appear to have gone far beyond mere MINOR spoilers at this point, I feel I can say: Yep, they did, but then good 'ol Susan and her Poker did for him. Remember the boy finding his false eye in the fireplace? "It's my best marble......it seems to move in a different way...." *Shudders*

    Also, I think Teatime was TOO scary to appear again, don't you? After all, Pratchett is in the humorous fantasy business, and Teatime is simply a character of nightmares.

    ....hell yeah. Carcer may always have had another knife, but let's remember Teatime was a trained assassin. Even if they did regret training him afterwards...

    The book did have it's beautiful bits though, most notably with Death questioning those Christmas traditions he didn't agree with: he saved the Poor Little Match Girl, and told King Wenceslas to piss off, leave the poor wood-gatherer bloke in peace and get his charity-kicks elsewhere. Hear hear.
  7. Pixel New Member

    OK - Teatime is dead - but so are Reg Shoe and Mr Slant, among others - even Windle Poons for a while - Teatime as a zombie - now that's scary!
  8. Hsing Moderator

    One question: I know Andersens match selling girl of course, and I can guess the story about the woodgatherer - still, I don't know that one. Can any of you point me to it?
  9. Electric_Man Templar

    Good King Wenceslas
  10. Twoflower New Member

    Zombie teatime? lol, scary. He'd probably sit down and think of a way to kill Great A'Tuin, or possibly the Auditors, because he'd have the time.
  11. drunkymonkey New Member

    Oh my god the mooosic!

    I found Teatime to be horrifying as well, but actually not as bad as Trymon. Now, he was thrilling, with his black eyes and the creeps from the Dungeon Dimensions possessing him.

    I quite liked Hogfather, with Ridcully and all my other favourite characters, but it wasn't my favourite.
  12. Darth_Bemblebee New Member

    There's a thought. I didn't even realise before that - of course - those from different countries might not recognise the cultural references that those in England or America would automatically. Blindingly obvious, but sometimes things like that need underlining before you notice :roll:

    I'm trying to think of any other examples besides King Wenceslas......Hsing, were there any more you came across that left you slightly puzzled? Anyone else from even further afield?
  13. Pixel New Member

    The internet karaoke version of "Good King Wenceslaus"? How far can one go?
  14. Darth_Bemblebee New Member

    Tarnations! My computer is soundless! I want to hear this abomination! :eek:
  15. Hsing Moderator

    Hm, surely... I have to think... I think one of the problems I had with Hogfather was not realizing a lot references, and often not even noticing it.
    It was like that with Lord and Ladies, and yes, I did realize there was a lot of Shakespeare references - and they really were my smallest problem. But that is for another thread.

    You see, until recently, there wasn't even a Santa Claus, but the "Christkind" ("Christchild") (strangely, an angelic looking girl, not a baby boy), she cam in the late evening of 24th and brought presents. No reindeers at all.
    I think I'll take a closer look at this once I have a few spare minutes, and the book at hand. :)
  16. Cynical_Youth New Member

    I agree with a lot of what you've said and you make some very interesting observations, but I'm not sure Pratchett's message is that grim.

    He does criticise the way we use stories, but I don't think he wants to paint a bleak picture of stories. After all, stories are what he uses. The narrative force is what binds the Discworld together. For me personally, the point was more that what we often forget what lies behind the stories. The reason for them, the purpose they served, the time in which they were conceived.

    I saw this in the greedy kid fixated on presents and all the rituals (singing carols, christmas trees etc.) that have somehow usurped what they were built up around. All these rituals are after all only concrete representations of the focus on family unity and generosity.

    I think Hogfather is Pratchett's way of asking us to look at the stories in our lives from a new perspective.

    I do, however, think there is a sense in which his answer is that humanity as it is today, as exemplified by Teatime, is not capable of appreciating the unassuming charity in some of those stories. He does, to some extent, the validity of our tendency to deem some stories naive.

    I can't help but ultimately come to the conclusion that the fear-driven legends and myths we surround ourselves with are more symbols of what we as a race have become than they are actual stories.

    I am afraid I've started rambling now, but that tends to happen when I triy to wrap my mind around interesting questions. I must re-read this book some time.
  17. jazzcat New Member

    Other references: the Scissorhands (Governess) is from a famous German children's book called Struwwelpeter (about 100 years old)... All moralistic fables, full of illustrated horror: the girl who played with matches burnt up & all that was left were her shoes & two crying cats; the boy who wouldn't eat his soup & wasted away & died with a soup tureen on his grave, etc. And of course the man with the huge shears who cut off the children's fingers when they wouldn't cut their nails--pics of blood pouring from their hands amongst the lopped-off fingers... Not a bit heartwarming.
  18. jazzcat New Member

    I agree that Hogfather is one of the darker books but I absolutely loved it. It attempts to explore what it is that makes us human--and there is darkness there, after all. But reaching for light! And them stinkin' hogs were a hoot!

    One last thing about Andersen: ALL of his stories were dark too. Existential, in a way. Consider the Little Fir Tree, which burns up at the end. Or the Toy Soldier with his broken heart, or the Little Mermaid, who DIES at the end with no soul, having traded her immortality (fie upon Disney for changing THAT story!).
  19. pfft New Member

    Maybe one of the reasons the "Hogfather" is so dark is because of Pratchett's own beliefs? A devout atheist, I believe he said. Something about how the "magic dies and you begin to see the Christmas tradition only through the eyes of commercialism". Hence, the dark and, at times, almost oppressive atmosphere.

    Now, don't get me wrong! I ain't no "headbangin' bible basher" and the "Hogfather" is one of my favorites BECAUSE it's so dark!! Teatime is one of my favorite characters (I was sad when he died, but understand why he had to). Maybe some sympathy for the devil? Mr. Teatime always reminds me of "Alex" in "A Clockwork Orange" for some reason.

    Now, I love to be made to think about things. I just wonder how much Pratchett's own beliefs (especially regarding Christmas) influenced this novel. Hell, he could probably write a dark novel about the "Smurfs" if he wanted to!

    Also, it made me shudder when someone said to Teatime. "You were probably the kind of little boy who used to look up dolls skirts!" Eeek!!! I used to do that when I was a little boy!!! My sisters Barbie was very attractive when I was 8 years old! Maybe time for a glass eyeball?

    "I'm a just a moomin on a mission"
  20. SusanCromwell New Member

    Hogfather is a book that is centred around Christmas but can be read at any time in the year. it is a witty and cleverly written book (just like always) and my all time Favourite.
  21. Sunna New Member

    Hey,reading this I FINALLY(for sure this time) realized that it WAS The Hogfather I read first,not Interesting Times. That's been bugging me for years,trying to remember that:)
  22. SusanCromwell New Member

    It was actualy because I watched the hogfather TV adaptation that I started reading the books.

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