Zilpha Keatley Snyder GEORGESS McHARGUE - Essay


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

"And All Between" is the self-contained successor to [Zilpha Snyder's] earlier "Below the Root." (It is so self-contained, in fact, that the first 125 pages are devoted to a recapitulation of previous action from a different point of view.) Once the story proper gets under way, we find that it winds up the tale of the schism between the tree-dwelling Kindar and the subterranean Erdlings, the latter exiled and depicted as monsters because they know or suspect a forbidden truth.

This truth is simply that of the possibility of violence, whether verbal, emotional or actual, as a human character trait….

If you accept Green-sky on its own terms, the tale is lively and the world it depicts is complex and consistent. The deep sense of malaise that assails this reader arises from something that underlies the book's ostensible concern with truth in government: Criticism is directed against falsifying history but not, it seems to me, at falsifying emotions. When Joy is always written with a capital letter, when a child's normal resentment of discipline is considered obscene, then good is transmuted into goody-goody and we have entered the airy-fairy world of Victorian elfkins flitting from flower to flower. The Kindar really do flit. They also illuminate their houses with creatures like fireflies and take shelter under mushrooms. And of course they never, never kill anything. Zilpha Snyder writes well, and I have enjoyed many of her previous books. However, "And All Between" gave this aspiring pacifist a severe attack of unjoyfulness.

Georgess McHargue, "'And All Between'," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1976 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), May 23, 1976, p. 16.