Diana Wynne Jones Margery Fisher - Essay

Margery Fisher

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Dogsbody has as its point of departure dissension among the Heavenly Bodies, during which the Dog Star, falsely accused of murder and the loss of a Zoi [a symbol and agent of power], is condemned to be born on earth as a pup so that he may search for the sacred object, which has fallen as a meteorite…. [The pup, Sirius,] is rescued by Kathleen, a waif from Ireland taken in unwillingly by stony-hearted Mrs. Duffield who sees in this relative of her husband's a useful domestic slave. Child and dog endure blows and insults, and Sirius suffers a persecution from the heavens which he only understands after he has remembered, piece-meal, his own origin. Like all Diana Wynne Jones's fantasies, this is a confident, intricate interweaving of contemporary family tensions and alliances with flashes of extra-human activity, as stars and planets join in the search for the Zoi and make their several contributions to the final unravelling of plot and counter-plot. The parallel between Duffie's cruelty to Kathleen and the ruthless actions of Sirius's Companion is significant. The conflict is not a moral so much as a psychological one, and the fantasy, with its constant emphasis on light and darkness, is there to make a point about human behaviour. (pp. 2771-72)

Margery Fisher, "Darkness Against Light," in her Growing Point, Vol. 14, No. 6, December, 1975, pp. 2769-73.