Monday, March 24, 2014

Thank Goodness for Encyclopedias!

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Before I get to my research and my new-found love for encyclopedias, my new working thesis deserves an introduction. Recently I was introduced to several other ideas about how I could possibly compare The Book Thief to Alice in Wonderland. One of them led to me an article one of those Sparknotes-type websites, where I found a comparison that changed how I thought about my comparison to the two novels. This article described the Queen of Hearts as the Goddess of Death. That made me wonder if there would be some way to compare the Queen of Hearts in the same way that I’m comparing the narrator Death. Could the Queen of Hearts be compared to past interpretations if I portrayed her as a Goddess of Death? Could she be compared to the female representations of death found throughout the world? If I could do that, how would she then compare to Death, the narrator? What type of contrast would that include?

So, now my working thesis has changed slightly.

The growth of Death as a character, and specifically, as a unique narrator of The Book Thief, can be understood by looking at the past and present representations of death throughout world culture. However, when compared with the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, who is herself an interpretation of a Goddess of Death, the narrator, Death, can be better understood as a milder version of the typical Death figure.

Hopefully, this addition works with the rest of my paper. I think it’ll give it a stronger connection to Alice in Wonderland.

Anyway, back to research. Here’s my updated annotated bibliography that includes several encyclopedias that will shortly save my life when I narrow down my representations of death. I've never been so glad to read encyclopedias. 

1.Cavendish, Richard, C. A. Burland, and Brian Innes. Man, Myth & Magic: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mythology, Religion, and the Unknown. Vol. 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 16. New York: M. Cavendish, 1995. Print.
This encyclopedia provides lots of information about death, specifically about different personifications of death and the various cultural variations of death. I plan to use this information to make the comparisons within my paper.

2. Daniels, Cora Linn, and C. M. Stevens. Encyclopaedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World; a Comprehensive Library of Human Belief and Practice in the Mysteries of Life .. Facsimile Reprint of the 1903 Ed. ed. Detroit: Gale Research, 1971. Print.
This encyclopedia contains similar information to the Man, Myth, and Magic encyclopedia. Using them both together could provide additional information that couldn’t be found in only one of them.

3. "Death (personification)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Mar. 2014. Web. 24 Mar. 2014.
Even though it’s a Wikipedia article, it provides the basic information about different personifications of death around the world. This could be helpful because I could use the basic understanding from the article and then go into deeper research if needed.

4. "List of Death Deities." Wikipedia. Wikipedia Foundation, 15 Feb. 2014. Web. 24 Mar. 2014.
This one is similar to the Death (personification) Wikipedia article, except this one doesn’t solely focus on personifications of death. It lists the death deities from around the world. I could also use this article to gain a basic understanding that could then be expanded with further research.

5. Lynette, Rachel. The Grim Reaper. Farmington Hills, MI: KidHaven, 2009. Print.
This book explains the more well-known and popular roles of death throughout the world. This has been helpful to me so far as I’ve compared the more common death characters to Death in The Book Thief.

6. Zusak, Markus. "Author Interview: April 2006." Interview by Teen Reads. The Book Report Network, 13 Apr. 2006. Web. 24 Mar. 2014. <>.
This interview has a section that discusses how Zusak (the author) feels about death and how that led to the creation of Death as the narrator. This could provide a background for how Death was created. 

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Now that I have all of this information, my next step will be to figure out which comparisons I want to make to Death (the narrator). I’ll need to find out which ones will provide the best evidence for my argument. It will take a lot of time, there’s a lot of information to go through, but it’ll be worth it when it helps me produce a great research paper!


  1. CHELSEA! So I was looking up some fun facts on Death and I came across this article that I thought you might find interesting (even if it's not useful for your essay.

    The Disney Way of Death
    Gary Laderman
    Journal of the American Academy of Religion , Vol. 68, No. 1 (Mar., 2000) , pp. 27-46

    Basically this looks at the playful way Disney addresses Death in its productions. A little similar to Lewis Carroll, since he is writing a children's novel and cannot have any explicit descriptions of death.

    Sex and death in Victorian literature
    Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan, 1990

    This book is found on the fifth floor of the HBLL, and I think that this might be a good resource too, since it involves the perception of death in Victorian literature. (you can ignore the sex part.) haha.