Unformatted text preview: did. I had to try myself at the same time, of course, but her Magic
helped me - and so did Dickon’s. Every morning and evening and as often in the daytime as I
can remember I am going to say, ‘ Magic is in me! Magic is making me well! I am going to be
as strong as Dickon, as strong as Dickon!’ And you must all do it, too. That is my
experiment.” The excerpt above is from the classic children’s book The Secret Garden, by Frances
Hodgson Burnett (1909). The person speaking is the sickly boy Collin. At the center of the
story’s events are Collin and Mary, two unhappy and unloved children living in early 20th
century England. Both Mary’s parents die in India in a cholera epidemic. Alone, mean and
sickly herself, Mary is sent to her uncle in England, Collin’s father. Her uncle cares nothing
for the children, but instead sinks deeper into his own grief following the death of his wife.
His son, Collin, escapes into his own illness and his feelings of guilt about the fact that his
mother died giving birth to him. In the lonely castle, located on one of the heaths of
Yorkshire, both these neglected children meet a healthy farm boy, Dickon, and the castle’s
old gardener, Ben Weatherstaff. On the castle’s estate, they find a forgotten and secret
garden, which they together bring back to life. The parallels drawn between the garden’s
rebirth and the children’s development are almost over-explicit, but at the same time the 29 book constitutes a tribute to nature and a healthy life, and it gives concrete and practical
advice about caring for a garden.
Although today, almost 100 years after the book was written, the story may seem somewhat
sentimental, it is still much appreciated. I am among those who have allowed themselves to
be captured and touched by the children’s fates. I am proud, today, that I have actually
devoted an entire doctoral dissertation to trying to find the solution to poor Collin’s question
about what type of magic we are drawn into when we are outside in nature or in a garden.
For, as Collin says: ”It’s something. It can’t be nothing!” The question is, though, what is it?
I am trying, through my research efforts, to help make the picture clearer, but perhaps the
romance or the mystical passion will somehow be damaged by what I have written here.
Might it, in the end, be better to talk about magic?
I am enormously thankful for the opportunities I have been given to study this white magic,
and would here like to give my sincere thanks to everyone who, in different ways, has made
this possible. The following people deserve extra thanks:
Professor Emeritus, Gunnar Sorte – who introduced me to Patrik Grahn and to the field of
Assistant Professor, Patrik Grahn – my main supervisor, who has generously help me
through his knowledge, guidance, discussions, ideas, projects, trips and friendship.
Professor Pär Gustavsson – my assistant supervisor, who has constantly inspired me to...
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