marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

tell it again, Sam

Sometimes a story motif is lifted straight from another story.

I still remember watching a bad movie and nearly groaning when a boy freed a genie, and I saw the Fisherman and the Genie appearing before me.  Then, shortly thereafter, I was watching another such pseudo-Arabic tale, and I saw the threesome gather, one with a healing apple, one with a spyglass with magic vision, and one with a flying carpet, and they were about to plod along on the road, leaving me groaning that no, you can't miss it -- and then one suggests they check out their destination with the spyglass and lo, they were off on the story of Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Paribanou.

Of course, that was lifting stuff from fairy tales.  Lifting stuff from novels tends to be more interesting.  I've read and enjoy many a novelistic retelling of a fairy tale, but only a couple retellings of novels, and both of them turned out rather -- flat.  Something about the serial numbers being filed off but no new serial numbers being engraved, or at least not sufficiently.  The lack of local color was part of the problem.

More artful stealing works, but I recently read a work where the middle third was Jane Eyre crossed with Turn of the Screw -- a reflection that kept coming up while I was reading it, which is not conducive to aesthetic enjoyment.  And another work I've read recently is set in a fictional Regency, and I was tweaked, a time or two, with this element came out of that Jane Austen novel.  Perhaps it was not the reappearance that was the problem.  The parallels between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson are interesting, but I wasn't think about them when I read Percy Jackson.

Can be interesting, using motifs again, even though there's no real choice in the end.
Tags: aesthetics, fairy tales (retelling), filing off serial numbers, local color, reading

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