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Wednesday, January 12, 2005

ALEXANDER AND ME

"Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy." F. Scott Fitzgerald

I met him first when I was sixteen, in my grade 11 history class. It was just a brief encounter, a few paragraphs in a chapter about Greek history. But I was intrigued and wanted to learn more about him, so I went to the library and found all the books I could that had been written containing the story of his life. His name was Alexander. They called him Megalos Alexandros, Alexander the Great. He was a young Macedonian Prince who became a king when he was twenty and went on to conquor the world.

I didn't date boys then, at least not my school mates. I was the nerdy preacher's kid who always had her nose in a book and her head in some far-away dream world. My teacher's dispaired of me. "If you spent as much time studying your school work instead of day-dreaming, you'd be a better student!" they scolded.

I had dropped Math and Science after grade 10, excelled at English literature and composition; preferred being in the drama club to sports; loved singing, but was too shy to get any of the leading roles in the school operettas. Alexander was my hero. I spent all my time reading about him, living my life vicariously in his world. He and his Companions became so well known to me that I was asked "Do you think you might have lived in that other time?"

Indeed, many years later, when I made my first trip to Greece, I was amazed, in referring back to that old manuscript, how accurately I had described the country, the colours, smells, vegetation, as if I had truly 'been' there before.

During my final year of school I was most often secluded in my room furiously typing on my old Underwood typewriter. I was working on a long novel about a young Theban girl, Adele, who on her wedding day was taken captive by the invading Macedonian army led by its youthful King Alexander, in retaliation for a Theban revolt. I had a mentor at the time, a kindly old gentleman named Dr. McLaren. He was a retired professor, once Superintendant of schools. He thought my literary talents promising, perhaps even 'brilliant' and forwarded my 100,000 word manuscript to a former student of his who happened to be a publisher.

I wish I still had the encouraging letter that publisher sent to me when he returned my manuscript. He was impressed, he said, but suggested I put it away for a few years until I was older and more experienced in life and had honed my writing skills.

The novel, "Rivers of Blood", written when I was seventeen, was to lead me later into Alexander's world, opening the door to countless new adventures.

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.
Live the life you imagined." Henry David Thoreau

P.S. Yes, I have seen the movie "Alexander" three times. And I loved it. I think Oliver Stone and I are on the same wave-length when it comes to his vision of Alexander. Sure there were flaws in the film. But I disagree with the vicious commentaries so many of the critics gave it. For me it brought Alexander's world all the much closer to reality.

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