marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

the logic of Faerie

Pondering it after reading an otherwise good fairy-tale-based novel.  Because at one point, a minor character, a mute girl, had gotten a working name by the cook's taking her out into the garden and telling her to pick a plant -- they would use that.

She picked rampion, of course, this being a fairy tale novel, and I go grumble, grumble, grumble because she's not Rapunzel, she's nothing like Rapunzel, putting in one commonality only underscored the fact.  There's a certain logic, even grammar, to the fantastic.  If you throw together motifs with merry abandon, you end up with a solecism.

Or comedy, I suppose. That may help explain why fairy tale mashup is often comic -- assuming it's competent.  But dramatic needs for the motifs to be arranged suitably.  Which is of course tricky in itself.  You can do a lot of tricks with the motifs if only you can manage to convince the reader that instead of the mother, wishing her son farewell, offering him the choice of a full loaf of bread with her curse or half of it with her blessing, the wizard he worked for offered him a bushel of gold with his curse or a few coins with his blessing.

Fairy tales are the simplest to see it in, but I still remember a retelling of Robin Hood where he was not only the worst archer in the band, but the stories concentrated not on the derring-do but on the discomfort of effectively endlessly camping.

And many an attempt to subvert cliches only reveals that nothing becomes a cliche without being used a lot -- which means, by definition, it must have something going for it.  Respect your cliches.  There is a reason for their existence.
Tags: cliches, fairy tales (retelling), genre: fractured fairy tale, myths and legends, unity of theme

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