Poetry – THE BLOUSE



Teddies - by Jud

         Teddies
             staring from her back
                 some smiling
                 some timid
                 some angry?
         Blue bows
                 intermittent
                     catch the eyes.

         Black Ted,  white Ted, grey Ted
         Brown Ted,  fawn Ted, yellow Ted
         Hairy Ted,  crinkly Ted, smooth Ted
             with big or button nose.

         But their eyes
                     tempt me
             to draw on
                     spectacles!

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(C) Copyright Jud House 12/06/1997

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Essay – TIM WINTON – The Riders: A Postmodern Text


If listed, postmodern characteristics that apply to texts would read as follows: multiple narratives, different points-of-view, plurality of meaning, reader response, reader participation, dark themes, fractured world, open-ended texts, wide variety of and mixed genre, boundary breaking, gaps, metafiction, social criticism, and the replacement of marginalised groups into texts.

D Lewis, in ‘The Constructedness of Texts’, after describing how “[m]etafiction … refus [es] to take for granted how stories should be told and thus implicitly comment[s] upon the nature of fiction itself” (Lewis, 1990, p.132), continues to state that there are three main features of postmodernism – “narrative boundary-breaking or ‘slippage’, excess, and indeterminacy.” (ibid, p. 133).

Geoff Moss, in ‘Metafiction, Illustration, and the Poetics’ propounds that:

postmodernism pictures a subjective, relativistic world
[and] is …. a process, perpetually in construction, per-
petually contradictory, perpetually open to change, …
where the self is decentred …[and there is] a plurality
of discourses.  (Moss, 1992, pp. 54-55)

 I believe that a great number of these attributes can be found in Tim Winton’s novel, The Riders. With an antihero, Scully, who behaves melodramatically, and moves from controlled happiness to extreme depression, from respectability to degradation, at its centre, The Riders inexorably evolves from realist to postmodern fiction.

Refusing to take for granted how stories should be told, with chapter eleven Winton turned the ordinary into the extraordinary, moving away from the realism that the first ten chapters promise, into a post-modern text – multi-layered like an onion, to be peeled back until the bitter bit in the middle, the end of Scully’s quest, was reached.

He introduced a fantasy genre, dark themes, into the realist narrative with his descriptions of the riders at the castle keep.  Their role in the narrative is debatable, being a form of indeterminacy and having plurality of meanings – psychological, psychical, symbolic, or structural.  Do they represent Scully’s internal psychological journey towards wholeness?  Are they psychic phenomena derived from the antiquity of the Celtic myth?  Do they symbolize his unyielding wait for Jennifer and for an answer to her disappearance?  Are they narrative devices, bracketing the search for his wife from the rest of the text?

Although realist texts, of singular genre, often contain dream sequences, the surreal nature of those frequently scattered throughout The Riders adds another fantasy element to the mixing of genre.  The disappearance of Jennifer, the nature of Scully’s search, and Alex’s death add the mystery genre to the mix.  There is also an implied travel diary as Scully’s physical journey is documented across the continent, showing the reality of the street life of the various countries visited, rather than the tourist spots.

Winton wrote the entire text in the third person, as an omni-scient narrator who relates the action from various character’s viewpoints, opening their feelings and thoughts to the scrutiny of the reader.  He moves from one character’s position to another, giving the impression that there are many narrators, while in actuality there are many voices, viewpoints, but only one narrator.  The uncertainty this creates, the layering of the narratorial voices, is postmodern.

There are a few metafictional moments, narratorial boundary-breaking, that cause reader confusion, destabilising the suspension of disbelief that accompanies the reading of fiction.  One occurred on the Greek island, while Scully and Billie, en route to visit Alex, trekked through villages.  As they passed through one, Billie stopped to listen to classroom chanting. “[Scully] let her stay till she’d had enough.  He said nothing.  What could you say?” (Winton, 1994, p.144)  To remain conventional it should have read: ‘What could he say?’  The omniscient narrator was describing actions and musings by Scully, and actions by Billie in third person particular.  Directed at the reader, this second person device not only asks them to agree with Scully, but also draws their attention to the fact that it is a work of fiction, a book, that they are reading.

The unreliability of the dominating narratorial voice, Scully’s, is another postmodern device.  An optomist, his naive views of people were shattered all through the book – he seemed to know less and less about his own past as the quest for his wife progressed.

So many characters in the novel seemed to know more about her disappearance than Scully, but unlike in a realist novel where eventually he would be permitted to know, these answers were withheld from him.  As he pursued those with knowledge of Jennifer, he allowed himself to be fobbed off with words, foiled by spite, turned aside by disdain, rather than give in to aggression to gain the required information.  Until Amsterdam.  There his explosion into drunken violence causes the reader to question the reliability of his calm quiet kind character traits, and wonder if Marianne was right to ask him:

 ‘Did you beat her much, Scully?  Were you rough in bed,
were you ‘ard on her, Scully?’ …. ‘You are a basher, aren’t
you, Scully?’  (ibid, p. 281)

The questioning of which is plot and which is subplot is also  postmodern.  The discovery that the actual primary plot is Scully’s self-examination to ‘find himself’, his internal journey, rather than the apparent primary plot of the frustrating search for his wife, creates confusion as the narrative unfolds.  Realist novels have a plot, with subplots intertwined, comprising a beginning, a middle, and an end which is conclusive, providing answers to most if not all questions raised in the text – providing a sense of closure.  The Riders does not do this.

Scully’s frustrations are shared by the reader, who is constantly asking  “Why doesn’t he go to the police?  Why won’t he ask the right questions?  Why?  Why? Why?” throughout the narrative.  It is clearly an open-ended text, showing a fractured world, evoking reader response and participation.  Scully’s internal journey, at the end of which his search was over – what he sought was unequivocally dead, as dead as the riders at the castle keep – is secondary in the eyes of the reader, who like Scully, just wants to know.  It seems Tim Winton prefers not to divulge the answers, not to tie up the loose threads.  Active readers must make up their own minds, reach their own conclusions, find closure where they can.  This lack of authorial closure is postmodern.

The changing of tenses from past to present, usually to change narratorial voice position, at intervals throughout the text, is another postmodern device used in The Riders.  While the bulk of the narrative is written in past tense, the present tense chapters seem to serve the following function: 5 offers Jimmy Brereton’s views of the newcomers to the Bothy; 12 shows Billie in the plane; 15 introduces Arthur Lipp and his views of the Australians; 19 Alex Moore’s views; 35 Peter Kenneally’s concerns for Scully; 38 Jennifer (?); and 47 Irma’s reaction to being deserted by Scully with her cash.  Seven different character’s viewpoints are foregrounded in present tense, providing corroborative and additional information to the narrative.

There are two odd chapters in present tense describing landscapes – 32 Australia (?); and 53 the Bothy and castle in Ireland.  The question whether it is Australia engages the reader in active participation with the text, and their placement, their recognition of the vivid descriptions could depend upon their nationality.

In chapter 31, another oddity occurs – Winton intermingles past and present tenses in verb and participle form, during the revelation of Billie’s worries:

Billie [tried] to think of something good, something she could
remember that wouldn’t make her afraid to remember.  Past
the cloud.  The white neck she saw….Beautiful skin.  The veins as she sits down.  Skin blue with veins.  Like marble. And talking now, mouth moving tightly.  Cheeks stretched.  Hair perfect. But the words lost in the roar, the huge stadium
sound in Billie’s ears as the cloud comes down, like smoke down the aisle, rolling across them, blotting the war memorial look of her mother in blinding quiet. (ibid, p. 234)(My underlining)

This long quotation shows not only Winton’s clever, unorthodox, post-modern verb usage to create an atmosphere of uncertainty and insecurity, but also his wonderful imaginative descriptive language.

The gap in the narrative, indeterminacy, is rarely temporal or spatial. Predominantly, it is textual – the reader, given snippets of information about the characters, must again actively participate with the text to decide who they are, where they fit in the story, and their psychological, psychical, or practical effect on Scully and his quests for Jennifer, an answer, and himself – a plurality of meanings.  An example of this gap, in the paragraphic chapter 38, describes a woman watching others in the Rue de Rivoli – presumably Jennifer watching Scully and Billie; or is it Irma, or Marianne, or Dominique?

She slips back into the bleak doorway to let them pass
blindly by without feeling the heat of her love.  She knows
where they are going.  She knows everything there is to
know about them …. she watches her life limp by … while
she decides how far to follow, wondering when enough is
enough, asking herself why it hurts to need so badly.(ibid, p. 271)

The reader is required to decide whether to believe that Jennifer, torn between being free to pursue her ambitions and her love for Billie and Scully, regretted her actions. At this stage in the narrative, reader response to Jennifer, based on individual experience and personal bias, influences hopes and desires for a successful ending to the quest.

Relying on reader’s foreknowledge of the ‘other’ text referred to, intertextuality occurs in this novel between the hunchback, Quasimodo, in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Scully – both deformed physically, misunderstood because of it, yet kind with good hearts – marginalised figures brought to the centre of the narrative.  Billie, the medium for this link, recognized it herself as they travelled by boat from Greece to Italy:    “He was like the hunchback, Scully.  Not very pretty.   Sometimes he wasn’t very smart.  But his heart was good” (ibid, p. 210); and again in Amsterdam: “Billie saw him come out handcuffed and bellowing like the Hunchback on the Feast of Fools”. (ibid, p. 344)  Constant references are made throughout the text about Notre Dame, initially as a wonderful place from which you could see for miles, and where birds dwelt.  Gradually the references change. As Billie left Paris her romantic notions of Notre Dame disintegrated as she reflected on the city’s reality:

Paris was pretty on top and hollow underneath.  Under-
ground everyone was dirty and tired and lost.  They
weren’t going anywhere.  They were just waiting for the
Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, the whole town, to fall inon them. (ibid, p. 322)

While the language of Winton is evocative, with descriptions that stun, both metaphorically: “Night warped by.” (ibid, p. 235) and as truisms: “The sea sucked and grabbed and hissed and snatched” (ibid, p.188), the actions of his characters are excessive, surreal, a little incredible. There is a ‘soapie’ quality surrounding The Riders – the squeezing in of all possibilities into the one narrative which appears to be “perpetually in construction, perpetually contradictory, perpetually open to change” (Moss, 1992, p. 55) – unsettling to the reader as surreal art is to the viewer.  In other words, postmodern.

 (C) Copyright Jud House  22/11/2005

 BIBLIOGRAPHY

Winton, Tim. (1994)  The Riders  Sydney: Pan Macmillan Aust. Pty Ltd.

Lewis, D. The constructedness of texts: Picture books and the metafictive.  In  Signal,  Vol 62, May 1990, pp. 131-146.

Moss, G. (1992)  Metafiction, illustration and the poetics of children’s literature.  In Hunt (ed.) Literature for children: contemporary criticism.   London: Routledge.

ADDITIONAL REFERENCES

Bradford, Clare. The picture book: Some postmodern tensions.  In Papers: Explorations into children’s literature Vol 4(3) 1993, pp. 10-14.

Grieve, Ann. Postmodernism in picture books.  In Papers: Explorations into children’s literature  Vol 4(3)  1993, pp. 15-25

Mappin, A. (1990) Tim Winton. In Magpies No. 2

Parry, G. (1994)  Interview with Tim Winton. In Viewpoint, Vol 2, p.1.

Reddy, M. (1995)  The two lives of Tim Winton. In The Sunday Age’, March.

Matthews, B. (1993)  Childhood in Tim Winton’s fiction. In Rossiter & Jacobs (eds.) Reading Tim Winton, A & R Imprint, Sydney.

Taylor, Andrew. (1996) An Interview with Tim Winton. In ‘Notes and Documents’ in Australian Literary Studies  Vol 4, pp. 373 – 377.

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(C) Copyright Jud House  29/08/2011

Poetry – SPACE SCULPTURE


                                  
                    “IMPERFECTION IS PERFECTION”
                      Isamu Noguchi, Sculptor
     Who are you?
     Where do you belong?
     Stand alone isolate in life
            minimize your mass
            expand your space
     Earth’s life-blood
           oozing from ‘belly-buttoned’ rock
           trickling away through stony space
           fountaining from pools
           raining from man-made boxes cylinders spheres
                   alive with colour in the dark

                   * * *
PLAYGROUNDS
     Black stone sculpted slides
     Stone shapes
           to climb to touch to see
     Concave slide-walled sand-pit
           children scaling sliding
           making the rim by steps alone
     Absorb the beauty
           as they grow
           as they play
     Sculpture alive with colour in the light
           minimize the mass
           expand the space
                   * * *
MIAMI, USA
     Clear the land
          demolish old structures blocking views
     Sprinkle with objets: sculptures benches shelters
          straight paths through lawn shrubs trees
     Circular ponds
          broken by fountaining jets gushes sprays
     Stand back view from above
          “The park is the sculpture”
     Stand alone isolate in life
          minimize the mass
          expand the space
                    * * *
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL
     Stone-walled hills
          arise in stony landscape
     Climb the paths
          confront the forms sculpted there
          face to face
          they survey you
          you survey them
     Earth’s life-blood
          oozing from ‘belly-buttoned’ rock
          trickling away through stony space
                    * * *
MURE, JAPAN
     Samurai home
          sits against cloven hill
          stone steps   to
          stone-walled gravel-path   to
     Mountains behind hills
          behind round boulder mound
     Stand alone isolate in life
          minimize the mass
          expand the space
               * * * * *
(C)  Copyright  Jud House 19/10/2006
               * * * * *

Poetry – CALYPSO CANARY


He puffed out his chest
        his arms behind his back
his head bobbed and weaved
        and his tail beat time
as the song burst forth
        from his frail throat
a symphony of trills
        sustained notes
and twin staccatos.

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(C) Copyright  Jud House 10/04/2000

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TOLKIEN – FAIRY STORIES FOR ADULTS


J R R Tolkien wrote: “If a fairy story as a kind is worth reading at all it is worthy to be written for and read by adults.  They will, of course, put more in and get more out than children can.”

Tolkien believed, and I agree with him, that not all children or adults like fairy stories, just as not all of them like science or mathematics.  He believed that children were accidentally associated with fairy stories because their reading matter was selected for them by the lower class servants, attendants and nurses.  These fairy stories were the written form of the oral folk tales that were told amongst the lower class adults.

Though the peasants were excluded in the formation of this literary tradition, it was their material, tone, style, and beliefs that were in corporated into the new genre.” (Zipes, J. (1991) p. xii)

Of course, this does not apply to more recent times, when fairy stories were specifically written for children.

Both children and adults have the ability to suspend disbelief, and to believe in the World of the sub-creator/storyteller.

Fairy-stories offer . . . . Fantasy, Recovery, Escape and Consolation, all things of which children have, as a rule, less need than older people.  (Tolkien, J R R (1975 ed.) p. 44)

When reading or listening to fairy stories, children relate to the Fantasy, and to the Consolation elements of the story.  They are interested in the plot of the narrative, in the characters and their fate, in justice and fair-play which must be seen to be done, and in the resolution of the tale with, preferably, a happy ending (Consolation), unless a sad one is justified.

The fairy story communicates to the child an intuitive, subconscious understanding of his own nature . . . .[he] feels understood in his most tender longings, his most ardent wishes, his most severe anxieties and feelings of misery, as well as in his highest hopes. (Bettelheim, B. 1976) pp. 155 & 154)

Adults, as well as seeing all these elements, usually on a more profound level, also derive more from the story by way of historical relevance, moral and ethical values and issues, irony and justice, with an awareness of symbolism and the language used by the author to convey not only the plot, but also all of these nuances.  Adults recognise the element of Escape as a means to leave behind their daily worries for a brief time, and the Recovery element – “a recovery of perspective” (Isaacs & Zimbardo, (1970 ed.) p.144) – as that which leaves them feeling spiritually healed for having read the story.  They relate to their own experiences with fairy tales during their formative years.

Tolkien knew, none better, that no audience can long feel sympathy or interest for persons or things in which they cannot recognize a good deal of themselves and the world of their everyday experience.” (Kocher, P. (1972) p. 1)

The stories, JACK AND THE BEANSTALK, RUMPELSTILTSKIN, and THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES, taken from Virginia Haviland’s collection THE FAIRY TALE TREASURY, incorporate these levels of comprehension, of both adults and children.

In JACK AND THE BEANSTALK by Joseph Jacobs, children’s perception of the story would focus on Jack with whom they could relate.  After all most children have done ‘silly’ things for which they have been punished, in their eyes often unfairly, and by parents who do not always apologise when proven wrong.  Children would not dwell on the fact that Jack stole – rather that the ogre, who ate little boys for breakfast, deserved to be tricked.  Although Jack lied to the ogre’s wife, who was shown as kindly, then curious, the children could easily ignore the lies because she lost their sympathy by turning on Jack on his third visit.

Repetitious patterns, which most children find enjoyable, were used by the author to depict height and distance.          

So Jack climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed,till at last he reached the sky [and] . . . . he walked along and he walked along and he walked along . . . (Jacobs in Haviland, p. 80)

with a “Fee fi fo fum” thrown in, would be aurally pleasing to children.  Just as their sense of justice would be satisfied when Jack was proven right about the beans, so would their need for a happy ending (consolation) be satisfied, (after a little dose of fear) when

Jack and his mother became very rich, and he married a great princess and they lived happy ever after.” (Jacobs in Haviland, p. 85)

Adults reading this story would not only take in these elements of the story, but would also see, for example, that Jack, by being sent to sell the family cow, an adult task in our society, was seen as the ‘man of the house’, indicating not only the father’s absence in the story, but that the age in which the original folk tale was told was much different from our age.  Children were not cosseted and protected then, but were considered as chattels, as extra pairs of hands, who had to earn their keep by running messages and cutting wood, and were punished physically for any misdemeanor.

According to Bettelheim, and taking the psychological view, this task also represents the beginning of Jack’s journey towards manhood – from the onset of puberty to the completion of the journey when he chops down the beanstalk, not only to save his life, but also to indicate that he no longer needs to rely on ‘magic’ to assist him to make his way in life.  Bettelheim comments that when Jack steals the bag of gold which soon runs out he realises that he must go back, this time knowing he is risking his life, to take something (the hen that lays the golden eggs) that will continue to provide financial security.  He says that

it is not necessity which motivates Jack’s last trip, but the desire for daring and adventure – the wish to find something better than material goods. . . .the golden harp, which symbolizes beauty, art, [and] the higher things in life. (Bettelheim, B. (1976) p. 191)

Adults would acknowledge the repetition of phrases as a clever device used by the author to indicate to the children that Jack had indeed climbed a long way up, and walked a long distance.  They would note that Jack told lies and that he stole, and that this was part of the out-witting of the ogre by a small boy - symbolic of the little people out-witting the social giants of this world.  They would become aware that its historical relevance was that the lower class peasants could get the better of their rich upper-class masters, or at the very least could mock them in folk tales.

In RUMPELSTILSKIN by the brothers Grimm, children are confronted immediately by two characters, a very poor miller and his very beautiful daughter, with whom to associate.  They would understand that the King was an important man (be subconsciously aware of his power), and that the poor miller would try to make his daughter appear special –  after all, the track record of most fairy tales would be of the poor beautiful girl who marries the rich prince or King.  But children would also be saddened when the daughter was locked up to do an impossible task – just as they would be glad when the little man came to save her.  Their sense of fair-play would see that she should give him something in exchange for not only spinning all that straw, but for actually saving her life – a necklace and a ring would seem to be fair rewards.

When the daughter was locked up the second time, there would be less concern when she wept, for children can predict fairy stories by their pattern – they would know that the little man would come again.  Meanwhile their dislike of the King would be growing.  Children would feel a shock when the little man asked for her first-born child – that would seem unthinkable, and a betrayal by a mother.  But children also understand an ultimatum, though they would not know that the concept had a name – it would be obvious that she had no choice.

Children would enjoy the name game introduced into the story to give the now-Queen a means of keeping her child – the more names listed the better they’d like it.  While they would not be aware of their religious (in the first instance) and their peasant (in the second instance) origins, still the intricacies of the names would be aurally pleasing, and visually also if they could read.  Their delight when the Queen discovered his real name and told him would be eucatastrophic, especially as he stamped his foot through the floor – the just deserts for losing his temper!

The relevance of [this] fairy story to reality lies in this [eucatastrophic] gleam, which is a ‘sudden glimpse of the underlying reality of truth'” (Isaacs & Zimbardo, (1970 ed.) p. 148)

Eucatastrophe is defined by Tolkien as “the joy of a happy ending” and as that which

gives the reader ‘a catch of the breath, a beat and lifting of the heart, near to (or indeed accompanied by) tears …’ [and] a piercing glimpse of joy, and heart’s desire. (Isaacs & Zimbardo (1970 ed.) pp. 147 – 148)

Adults would be immediately aware of the patriarchal nature of the setting of the story – the daughter would be representative of the typical, passive, physically beautiful female whose fate was at the mercy of and in the hands of males – not only her father, but also the King, who, because of Noblesse Oblige, could take any commoner’s daughter. Adults would recognise the miller’s bragging and the King’s greed as the cause of the daughter’s hopeless plight.  They would empathise with the little man’s demands for a reward for his services – after all, in today’s society, doing something for nothing does not lead to success and wealth in life.  However he was not without compassion, demonstrated when “[t]he Queen began to weep, so that the little man felt sorry for her.” (Haviland, V. p. 160)  But he was another male to subjugate the daughter, who remained passive throughout the story.  Even when she had become Queen, she could only use her position of power to send someone else to search the countryside for the little man.

Once again adults would be aware of the subliminal message that life is a journey (this time for a female) through trials which are often dangerous and life-threatening.  The resolution of the troubles, often through another person (usually an aggressive male) are clearly made obvious by the ending, with its implication (although not actually stated) of the Queen living happily ever after with her King and her baby (the consolation).

In THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES by Hans Christian Andersen, from the outset the readers, whether adults or children, are included in the joke or trick being played on the emperor.  They are informed that two swindlers, who arrive in town, are weavers of

the most beautiful stuffs imaginable.  Not only were the colours and patterns unusually fine, but the clothes that were made of the stuffs had the peculiar quality of becoming invisible to every person who was not fit for the office he held, or if he was impossibly dull. (Haviland, V. p.174)

This basically is the crux of the story, which centres around not only the self-esteem (pride and vanity) of the emperor and his staff, but also the need for people not to appear foolish in public, and their need to believe in themselves and the fitness for their chosen (whether by self or superiors) careers.

Children would see this story on a superficial level, seeing the vain emperor pretending to see what was not there so as to avoid appearing foolish, yet by so doing, being tricked into looking even more foolish – there are surely few things worse than parading in public with no clothes on!  They would relate to the desire not to be singled out as stupid before their peers, while their subconscious need for security would evoke their sympathy for the emperor even as they laughed at him.

The fact that the swindlers were not only stealing the threads supplied to them, but were also rewarded with knighthoods for their non-existent work (and thus for their swindling) would seem to children to be part of the swindle, and an example of the emperor’s gullibility.  Children would happily associate themselves with the child who saw and said that the emperor had no clothes on, and would feel proud that it took a child to expose the swindlers who exposed the emperor.  Finally, I believe that children would be impressed by the courage shown by the emperor, who, when exposed as naked and foolish, continued his parade regally with his head held high, as an emperor should.

The class distinctions are very obvious in this story – the fact that the emperor thought nothing of spending all his money on his clothes, instead of on the army or the theatre, is made immediately apparent in the opening paragraph:

Instead of saying as one does about any other king or emperor, ‘He is in his council chamber,’ here one always said, ‘The emperor is in his dressing-room.’ (Haviland, V. p.174)

An adult reader would realise that this story is mocking the thoughtless behaviour of the rich, showing that the lower classes were well aware of the inequity, and were ready to ridicule the upper classes if the opportunity arose.

The moral of this story is clearly that pride (and vanity) always comes before a fall, as adult readers would immediately see, and children could be taught to understand.  The emperor’s need to delegate would appear logical to an adult – he was a man of power and thus needed to safeguard his high position.

[The emperor] felt a little queer when he reflected that anyone who was stupid or unfit for his post would not be able to see it. . . . he need have no fears for himself, but still he thought he would send somebody else first. (Haviland, V. p. 175)

He consequently selected his “faithful old minister . . . [as] he is a clever man and no one fulfils his duties better than he does.” (Haviland, V. p. 175)

This story offers adults escape with humour – a chance to watch another’s dilemma unfold and be resolved with the consolation that the emperor was exposed as foolishly vain, yet with his dignity upon exposure as a form of recovery.  The fantasy element – the magic cloth which was known to be non-existent - still has a power over the readers, both child and adult, who, half-believing, watch the worry and embarrassment of those who viewed it.  The fact that the swindlers appear to go unpunished leaves the readers with a sense of incompletion, thus, by this unresolved element, keeping the story fresh in their memories.

I chose these three stories as they all, in my opinion, demonstrate different types of fairy stories – JACK AND THE BEANSTALK is male oriented, showing a boy’s maturation to adulthood; RUMPELSTILTSKIN shows a typical subjugated heroine, achieving via the intervention of a male; and THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES presents a clear moral, showing that one should believe in oneself and in what one sees, not in what one is told.

As I have shown, adults would certainly get more out of these stories than children do.  And if the adult should read the story aloud, or better still tell the story, to a child, then the story would be coloured by the adult’s own

emotional involvement in the story and in the child, with empathy for what the story may mean to him. Telling is preferable to reading because it permits greater flexibility. (Bettelheim, B. (1976) p. 150)

(C) Jud House  28/08/2005, 20/11/2012 & 15/11/2012

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Fairytales:

ANDERSEN’S FAIRY TALES.  London: Andrew Dakers Ltd.

Bettelheim, B. (1976)  THE USES OF ENCHANTMENT.  London: Thames and Hudson Ltd.

(1973)  MY BOOK OF FAIRY TALES AND FABLES.  London: Brown Watson Ltd.

Carpenter, H. (1978)  J.R.R.TOLKIEN – A BIOGRAPHY.  London: George Allen & Unwin Publishers Ltd (paperback)

Cauley, L.B. (1988)  THE PANCAKE BOY.  New York: G.P.  Putnam’s Sons.

Dahl, R. (1982)  REVOLTING RHYMES.  + Video.

Disney, W. (1965)  WALT DISNEY’S FANTASYLAND.  London: Grolier

Disney, W. (1970)  FANTASY ON PARADE.  England: Purnell & Sons Ltd.

Duriez, C. (1992)  THE TOLKIEN AND MIDDLE EARTH HANDBOOK. London: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd/ Angus & Robertson.

Haviland, V. (ed.) (1972)  THE FAIRY TALE TREASURY. Hamish Hamilton/Puffin Books.

Isaacs, N.D. & Zimbardo, R.A. eds. (1970 ed)  TOLKIEN AND THE CRITICS.  Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press.

Kocher, P. (1972)  MASTER OF MIDDLE-EARTH The Achievement of J R R Tolkien.  London: Thames and Hudson, Ltd.

Ridden, G. (1981)  YORK NOTES: THE HOBBIT  Harlow: Longman York Press.

Tolkien, J.R.R. (1964)  TREE AND LEAF.  London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.

Zipes, J. (1989)  BEAUTIES, BEASTS AND ENCHANTMENT.  New York: Penguin Books USA Inc.

Zipes, J. (1991)  THE PENGUIN BOOK OF WESTERN FAIRY TALES.  London: Penguin Books Ltd.

Zipes, J. (ED.) (1987)  VICTORIAN FAIRY TALES.  New York/London: Routledge, Chapman & Hall, Inc. (Paperback).

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Short Story: IN THE OLD DAYS


“In my day,” the 96 year old man said loudly, “it was crystal sets for radios – no TV then let alone videos an’ that.”

His young greatgrandkids, their parents, and their grandparents looked at each other across the dinner table.  Their greatgrandmother, who was sitting in an armchair nearby, smiled quietly.

“What’s a crystal set?”

“A very primitive form of radio that people built themselves,” said their granddad.

“The thing I find scary,” put in their grandmother, ”is that these kids never knew a time when man hadn’t walked on the moon.”  She shook her head.  “Just think of it.  They were born after it happened, so their world includes that fact.”

The kids turned to look at her, still silent.

“In our time,” she continued, “we saw rockets go from fiction to fact.  I remember when it was unusual to see a plane fly overhead.”

The old man looked at all the faces, fiddled with his hearing aid and stated, “Never mind rockets!  I flew the first plane here in Australia, for TAA.  And when I was a kid there weren’t any cars, just buggies.”

“What did you do for entertainment then?” his grandson asked.

“We had our own dance bands – I played sax, you know.  And drums.  And the goanna.”  The young people laughed, except his daughter.  She’d heard it before.  Many times.

There was a lull in the conversation as the icecream dessert was placed in front of them.

“Mmm.  Nice.”

“Creamy.”

“Yummo.”

“We made our own icecream in those days,” the old man bellowed.  “Had
to turn a handle for hours mixing it.”

“Like a churn,” his son-in-law put in.

“Then we took it next door to the picture theatre to sell.  My mum played the piano for the silent films.  We had a shop next door.  That’s where the local dances were held too.”

“The shop?”

“No.  The theatre.  They’d clear out the seats and our band used the stage.  We were pretty good too.”  He grinned smugly.

“It’s weird to think how many changes took place this century.  Amazing really.  No wonder people have trouble keeping up.  No wonder there’s so much stress nowadays.”

“Dad’s seen – well we’ve both seen an incredible number of changes in our lifetime – cars, planes, TV’s, computers.”  The old lady threw up her hands.

Her daughter leant forward.  “And to think that the Middle Ages stayed the same with virtually no progress for a thousand years.  It’s so hard to believe.  I guess because we can’t imagine it, picture it.”  She paused then added, ”No wonder Catweazle had such a hard time.”  They all laughed.

“You know, GrandDad and I went on our honeymoon in a Tiger Moth plane.  We landed in a paddock and stayed the night with farmers while GrandDad fixed the plane.  Then we flew on the next day.”

The young people were stunned.  The grandson opened his mouth to speak, but his grandfather’s voice came out.  He hadn’t realised, as old deaf people don’t, that others were talking.

“On one of my TAA flights in a prop plane we got stuck at Oodnadatta.  You know where that is?”

The young kids shook their heads.

“It’s near Coober Pedy,” their father said.

“That’s right.  Out in the desert up near Woomera where you were.  Well anyway, we got stuck there.  The battery died and I couldn’t get the motor to turn over.  With a plane
full of people in the boiling heat.”  He chuckled.  “So we got a long rope, ran it through the motor, got the passengers to run away from the plane pulling as hard as they could on the rope, while the airport bloke turned the prop and I started the plane from in the cockpit.”

“What happened?”  They were all listening now.

“It started first go.  The passengers piled back in and we took off.  They were all sworn to secrecy as it was definitely against regulations.  But we couldn’t sit there in the boiling heat all day.”

“Just think how interesting it would be to have a reunion with those people.”

“Yeah.  You could put a notice in the papers, over the radio and see if any are still alive.”

His wife smiled.  “GrandDad never told anyone about it before.”

“I think he’d be safe telling about it now though,” said her daughter.  She sat back surveying the table.

“Four generations here.  What a difference in experiences we’ve all had so far.  And not just us oldies.  The kids have their own stories to tell.  And the littlies will have theirs in time.”  She looked around the table at them all.  “I wonder what they will be?”

(C) Copyright Jud House  18/08/20011

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