I am the girl that will tell you to read the book, because it’s better than the movie. I am the girl that will stay up all night to see how the book ends. And I am the girl that would always rather read the unabridged version, because I want every last detail, and who knows what the editor may have taken out?
For the first time, I am disappointed with the unabridged version of a book. It’s almost like a slight on my childhood memories, as I try and take in what this “extended version” has to say. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t approve of book censorship, where editors decide that the public shouldn’t see or can’t handle a certain topic.
For example, this editing technique was used a lot with Zane Grey’s books. I’ve read the old copies and then found what I thought was a new copy, with a new title. But no, it was the original manuscript, with the risque bits left in. And when I say risque, I refer to things like… in one story, there’s a suggestion that the wife may have been attacked and raped, while her husband is away. Because of her fear of what he’ll do, she never tells him, and they watch their son grow up slightly different from them.
But she loves her son, anyway, and never treats him differently! They both do. So, the abridged version cuts this out, and you just figure that the son inherited his characteristics from his great-grandfather. And if you want to know which Zane Grey story I’m referring to, I can’t remember. I’ll have to look it up later.
Back to The Lost Prince. I do think there are more background details and descriptions in each chapter that were not put into the abridged version. But the main discovery is from where Loristan seems to get his “help”. As a strong, noble character, he seemed to look to Someone above for his assistance. The character of Stefan Loristan seemed like a Christ-like allegory, sometimes, as The Rat is advised, “When you feel jealous, be still and think of him.” How can The Rat remain jealous, if he’s thinking of someone who is above jealousy?
But Marco begins to tell The Rat a story about how his father was once ill, and went to a Buddhist holy man for help. How he climbed to a ledge, high in the mountains, and the words that the holy man spoke, the two laws that he gave him to live by. And how even tigers and leopards will grovel at the holy man’s feet, because he is above fear, and they see him as one of them.
So, this story that I’ve always seen as having Christ-like leanings, suddenly is brought down to have it’s “light” based on the wisdom of a Buddhist holy man. And this recalls some of the items I always found odd in Burnett’s The Secret Garden. I haven’t read it in a while, but I seem to recall Mary Lennox having some thoughts on Indian teachings, as she was raised there. But I always found those discussions unnecessary and completely out of place.
Looking up a little more on the author, I recalled that at a normal time in her life, she took an interest in Christian Science and Spiritualism, but when her eldest son died, she went off the deep end, and left her Christian faith behind. This is what shows up in her books, now and again.
There’s even a point where The Rat asks Marco if the Bible doesn’t have a quote of a similar flavor, of thinking in order to get what you want? Marco quotes Mark 11:24,
“Therefore I say unto you, whatsoever things ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”
But Marco immediately states that many books have this type of phrase in it. As if the Bible were just like any other book. And then he quotes the laws for The Rat, who spends the next chapter trying to get his brain around them. Just like I would. Except in this case, The Rat knows that his idol, Stefan Loristan, believes in these things, so he WANTS to believe them also, even though he doesn’t agree with them yet.
The crowning thought of Law #1 (I have no idea if it’s Buddhist belief or if Burnett made it up) is “That thine own thought… is one That which thought the Worlds.”
And the Law of That which Creates, suggesting that if you think of what you desire and it can’t wrong a man, and it isn’t ignoble, then your thought will take earthly form and come to you.
So, you can imagine my THOUGHTS when I’m reading a favorite book and suddenly they start spouting off the idea that these thoughts in yourself can create things. I am sure I’m not comprehending it completely, but it does sound like a lot of baloney to me.
Well, I have some verses for her.
“All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness overcame it not.” –John 1:3-5
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would, I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do.” –Romans 7:18,19
The implication of Burnett’s is that by willing our thoughts in a certain direction, we can do anything. We, ourselves, can do anything. Can create, can bring ourselves above and beyond evil. But it’s not true. In and of ourselves, we are nothing. It is only through Christ that anything can be accomplished, that any good can be achieved. And then, it wasn’t us!
The Lord God created. And He sent His Son to die for me, because I am incapable of doing good, because there is no good in me! And even when I want to do good, I don’t, because I can’t. Without Him, I can’t.
And so, I feel sorry for Frances Hodgson Burnett, that she took such a beautiful story, full of Christ-like figures and those that seemed to want to be like Him… and lowered them to consult strange monks in mountains. Who teach them that their thoughts can create peace, when there is no peace, save in Christ.
I shall continue reading and try to recapture some of my lost joy. It’s only a story, and I can still enjoy it. But I now know what it is to feel extreme disappointment in a favorite author. Frances, how could you?