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Snow Scenes in Literature

December 15, 2013

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It’s all around many of us. It’s even falling in the pages of our favorite classics. Snow. Here are some of the cameos snow makes in literature, drifting your way in no particular order, as each one crystallizes into one-of-a-kind fractals of verbal goodness:

The Great Gatsby


When we pulled out into the winter night and the real snow, our snow, began to stretch out beside us and twinkle against the windows, and the dim lights of small Wisconsin stations moved by, a sharp wild brace came suddenly into the air. We drew in deep breaths of it as we walked back from dinner through the cold vestibules, unutterably aware of our identity with this country for one strange hour before we melted indistinguishably into it again.

That’s my middle west–

The Lord of the Rings Book One: The Fellowship of the Ring


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I spent the following day roaming through the valley. I stood beside the sources of the Arveiron, which take their rise in a glacier, that with slow pace is advancing down from the summit of the hills to barricade the valley. The abrupt sides of vast mountains were before me; the icy wall of the glacier overhung me; a few shattered pines were scattered around; and the solemn silence of this glorious presence-chamber of imperial nature was broken only by the brawling waves or the fall of some vast fragment, the thunder sound of the avalanche or the cracking, reverberated along the mountains, of the accumulated ice, which, through the silent working of immutable laws, was ever and anon rent and torn, as if it had been but a plaything in their hands. These sublime and magnificent scenes afforded me the greatest consolation that I was capable of receiving. …They congregated round me; the unstained snowy mountain-top, the glittering pinnacle, the pine woods, and ragged bare ravine, the eagle, soaring amidst the clouds—they all gathered round me and bade me be at peace.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Next morning I awoke, looked out the window and nearly died of fright. My screams brought Atticus from his bathroom half-shaven.
“The world’s endin‘, Atticus! Please do something—!” I dragged him to the window and pointed.
“No it’s not,” he said. “It’s snowing.”
Jem asked Atticus would it keep up. Jem had never seen snow either, but he knew what it was. Atticus said he didn’t know any more about snow than Jem did. “I think, though, if it’s watery like that, it’ll turn to rain.”

A Tale of Two Cities


This was the Carmagnole. As it passed, leaving Lucie frightened and bewildered in the doorway of the wood-sawyer’s house, the feathery snow fell as quietly and lay as white and soft, as if it had never been.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe


Next moment she found that what was rubbing against her face and hands was no longer soft fur but something hard and rough and even prickly. “Why, it is just like branches of trees!” exclaimed Lucy. And then she saw that there was a light ahead of her; not a few inches away where the back of the wardrobe ought to have been, but a long way off. Something cold and soft was falling on her. A moment later she found that she was standing in the middle of a wood at night-time with snow under her feet and snowflakes falling through the air.

Catcher in the Rye


It was nice, though, when we got out of the dining room. There were about three inches of snow on the ground, and it was still coming down like a madman. It looked pretty as hell, and we all started throwing snowballs and horsing around all over the place. It was very childish, but everybody was really enjoying themselves.


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  1. In such a small dose, mingled with those well-chosen examples of masterful prose, Salinger comes off as self-indulgent and annoying. .

  2. May I offer one from Tolstoy’s “The Snow-Storm”?

    “It had become frightfully cold; and scarcely had I wriggled myself free of my collar, than the frozen, dry snow, whirling along, fell full upon my eyelashes, nose, mouth, and flopped down my neck. All round about everything was white, bright, and snowy; there was nothing to be seen anywhere but turbid light and snow. I became seriously alarmed.”

  3. currankentucky permalink

    Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow… bring on the white stuff!

  4. I’d roll out John Greenleaf Whittier’s “Snowbound,” which describes an early December no’easter much like the event we’re experiencing this morning.

  5. Oh I love snow! I miss it much – living in the desert means there’s very little of it… like never actually. I believe 1949 is the last time Needles saw snow. I need to visit snow somewhere I think.

  6. No snow in Britain. Rain. Drizzle. Fog. Mist. Gales. And more rain. Perhaps I’ll do a literary rain round-up. In fact, Michael, you’ve inspired me. I’m off…

  7. Great post. I love using references to literature in my blog, The Literary Leotard and appreciate these, along with the photos. Thanks for sharing.

  8. This is lovely. Thanks!

  9. Brendan Riley permalink

    The final, electrifying chapter of D.H. Lawrence’s Women in Love takes place in the snow:

    “He had taken a little toboggan, for the two of them, and they trudged between the blinding slopes of snow, that burned their now hardening faces, laughing in an endless sequence of quips and jests and polyglot fancies. The fancies were the reality to both of them, they were both so happy, tossing about the little coloured balls of verbal humour and whimsicality. Their natures seemed to sparkle in full interplay, they were enjoying a pure game. And they wanted to keep it on the level of a game, their relationship: SUCH a fine game.”

    D. H. Lawrence. Women in Love (Kindle Locations 7365-7368).

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