from lost to found: on pl travers

I dreamed last night of a postcard. Not the image on the front, but the handwriting on the back, which I recognized, as well as the feeling of calm reading the handwriting had on me. The note was brief. Write to me. Not, write me. Write to me. When I awoke the emphasis seemed to be on a literal letter I should write, but as the hours passed, I thought, no, it’s a suggestion. Maybe the writing that is coming hard now would come more easily if I directed it to someone. If I thought of the story as something I needed to say to someone, a particular someone, in a letter.

One day at Hawthornden, in the library, I found a 1956 issue of the Paris Review Interviews and found myself drawn to an interview Edwina Burness and Jerry Griswold had conducted with PL Travers, author, of all things, of Mary Poppins, but also–I hadn’t realized–one of the founding editors of Parabola: The Magazine of Myth and Traditions.

250px-PL_TraversWhen I returned to the states I found a collection of essays and interviews on, with, and by PL Travers, A Lively Oracle: A Centennial Celebration of PL Travers, which I’ve been reading tonight. One of the essays, by DM Dooling’s daughter, who knew PLT, as she was called by the Parabola coterie, for 25 years, elucidates Travers’ interest and part in the collaboration.


The theme of movement from lost to found runs through much of PLT’s work [. . .] At a certain moment in many stories, someone or something is lost–discarded, forgotten, banished, enchanted or in some way removed from the first field of action–while continuing to exist on another plane or level. The action on the original level goes on without them or it for a certain time–until both the one lost and the story itself demand reunification, so that “ever after” can be sounded. [. . .] PLT suggests in “Unknown Childhood,” written for the issue on “Liberation,” that “all  that is lost is somewhere, [and] whatever is lost is longing for that which has lost it.”

–from”Exploring the Homeland of Myth: The Parabola Essays,” Ellen Dooling Draper

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2 Responses to from lost to found: on pl travers

  1. Marianne says:

    You are referring to the smaller library, the one off the private garden? How I love knowing what explorations came your way while you were in Scotland . . .

  2. Jill Widner says:

    No, no–the new brick library up the hill. With the feather quill for a weather vane.

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