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The Enduring Allure of Lemony Snicket, or Embracing The Unfortunate!

Lemony Snicket has once more tread upon our screens to tell us of the woes of The Baudelaire Children. Inviting us to witness events already past, though repeatedly warning us to look away, to continue upon our merry way, to do anything but hear a tale of loss and devastation. With each episode that slipped past I started to think about the allure of the series and its adaptions. There is something beguiling about the world The Baudelaire Children inhabit. We view it through a child-like imagination, where insides don’t match the outsides of houses, where it’s difficult to pinpoint geographic locations, as well as its place in time. It’s a world where certain oddity rules and where the fantastical and exciting come to life. There is much that can be said on the stylistic choices both in the books, the show, and the film, and even more to be said on the overlapping genres in which the larger story Snicket tells is set. But neither style nor genre is something I want to touch upon in this piece—at least not in any great detail. I think what makes the tales of The Baudelaire Children so widely devoured is its embrace of the unfortunate.

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December 6th, Sinterklaas

When I was little, the 5th of December meant placing your shoe by the chimney or radiator just before you went to bed. You’d stuff it with a carrot, a few cubes of sugar, and a rolled up drawing hailing the characters of the current festivities. Come morning, you’d rush into the living room, excited to see what Sinterklaas had left you. There’d be mandarins, preferably rather leafy, and speculaas in the shape of the fairytale saint himself. Sometimes, there’d be gold-wrapped chocolate coins and chocolate figurines wrapped in colourful, aluminium foil. And, there’d be toys. Toys you’d spent the weeks before selecting from catalogues, window displays, and the endless cycle of commercials being pumped out since early November. You’d flick page after folder page—crammed into your letter box the weeks before—and cut or tore out the ones you wanted. At school, you’d draw a line art version of a hessian bag and stick your cut-out paper toys on it. It was the thing to do, to tabulate.

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