Tag Archives: Dissing

Still not been devoured by the beastly dragons

Time flies like a dragon, and the PhD thingie is coming along nicely. (At least I hope so.) Ordered even more books from abebooks today (this time about Kenneth Grahame).

As I’ve nothing more amusing to say, I leave you with my favourite song from the 1948 musical THE PIRATE, starring Gene Kelly and Judy Garland. “Some day he will swoop down on me like a chickenhawk and carry me off.” It doesn’t get any better than that! *g*

Isn’t Gene Kelly hot? And these arms — oh my! (nom-nom-nom)

Now back to the dragons …

Still Alive

Still alive and working on the PhD thingie. Ordered a gazillion more books on abebooks yesterday. Need another room for my library.

Happy Dance Shortly after Midnight

Today, or rather yesterday, I finished the dratted diss chapter on Victorian parodies. Wooohooo! Took me a whole year, but I’ve finally done it! Of course, I’ll still need to revise it and fill the white spaces in my documentation of sources. Things like, who the heck wrote that the curious movements and the bad balance of the knights in THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS refers to the movements of the knights in a game of chess? And who speculated that Carroll / Dodgson proposed to Alice Liddell’s older sister? Or to their governess???

Sunday Relevations

If I hadn’t already loved James R. Dow simply for writing GERMAN FOLKLORE, I would have totally fallen in love with the man once I would have read the first two sentences of the introduction to GERMAN FOLKLORE:

German Volkskunde, or German folklore as it is known outside the German-speaking world, has long been something of an obsession. It began quite innocently, with a course in folk narrative at the Gutenberg Universität in Mainz […]

Awww! Of course, I know exactly what he is talking about: several years ago, a friend of mine talked me into attending a class on the Grimms’ Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Tales, also translated as German Popular Stories) at the institute of folklore, and just like that I was sucked in and decided to take folklore as one of my minor subjects. 🙂 And now folk literature forms a major part of my PhD project. That’s what these sneaky folklore people do to you: they make sure that, before you know it, the subject grabs you and never lets you go. *g*

So. Started reading Dow’s book this afternoon, and while he somewhat (over)simplifies several things, he has nevertheless written a great, because clear and concise introduction and overview. and, oh my gosh, I’ve already had some major relevations: it had completely escaped me that Stith Thompson wrote two indeces of folk literature: for one thing, he translated and expanded Antti Aarne’s Verzeichnis der Märchentypen (1910) as The Types of the Folk Tale (1928 / rev. 1961); for another, he also put together the six-volume Motif Index of Folk Literature (1955-58). (Goodness knows with what I’ve been working in the past.) What Dow does not mention, however, is that Aarne-Thompson index has been further expanded by now, namely by Hans-Jörg Uther’s The Types of International Folktales (2004).

This is interesting in so far as the types of folk tales are traditionally referred to by their number in the Aarne-Thompson index (abbreviated as either AT or AaTh); “Cinderella,” for example, is AaTh 150A. Apparently, this old classification has now been replaced by the ATU (Aarne-Thompson-Uther) system. Of course, tales taken from the Grimms’ Household Tales are also referred to by their position in the 1857 edition (= last edition done by the Grimms themselves – is there a specific term for that?). Thus, “Cinderella” is also known as KHM 2.

Confused yet? 😉

Thursday Update

Spent the day correcting exams – duh. But, hopefully, tomorrow will bring an end to corrections — at least for the time being. Yay! I’ll be finally able to concentrate on my thesis once again. 🙂

Speaking of the thesis, I’ll be going on a research trip to London in September. (All right, all right, this is only a very elaborate excuse to look at even more Dickie Doyle goodies and squee with delight in the library of the Victoria & Albert Museum. *g* But even with much squeeing, it’s still research for the dissertation.) (How clever of me to pick a squee-worthy topic for my thesis! *ggg*)

I hope I’ll be able to squeeze in some time for a day trip (or at least half-a-day trip) to Oxford in order to visit the Pitt Rivers Museum, which is my all-time favourite museum. Besides, the frame story of the Novel That Has Finally Achieved WIP Status opens in the Pitt Rivers. And I can even show you the exact location: click here (you need QuickTime), then turn around 180° until you face the other display case. I believe the objects my heroine (Louise Murray, called Birdy) is looking at are in the showcase next to it on the left. (See? That’s something I need to check out. And whether the museum is still as dimly lit as it was in 1998.)

And speaking of books: I’m still happily glomming Suzanne Brockmann. I’m currently reading THE DEFIANT HERO — and I love it, love it, love it! 🙂

Successful Dissing

Spent the better part of the afternoon on the trail of “I smell the blood of an Irishman.” I know it’s first and foremost a reference to “Jack and the Beanstalk,” but I was wondering whether there’s actually an Irish fairy tale which uses these words (Yeats doesn’t count; the CELTIC TWILIGHT was published several years after my source).

And I can only say once again: thank heavens for google.books and amazon’s search-inside feature! 🙂

All in all, these past two days the dissing was absolutely terrific: I wrote about seven pages in all, which is some kind of record for this particular chapter! And what’s even better: I’m about to finish the dratted monster chapter (not a chapter on monsters, but the chapter turned out to be the monster!)!!! Wheee!!! Only three to five more pages and then it’s all done! (The chapter, that is, not the diss.)

Dissing with St. George

Spent the afternoon scribbling away and added two more pages to the dissertation (have I already mentioned that academic writing is sooooooooooooooooooooooooo slow?). At one point I got the 13th-century GOLDEN LEGEND, the late 16th-century SEVEN CHAMPIONS and 19th-century versions of THE SEVEN CHAMPIONS all mixed up and spent ten minutes blinking stupidly at the monitor.

Spent ten more minutes trying to figure out a 19th-century reference to clump-soled shoes. Were such shoes worn by soldiers? Probably. Google Books proved maddingly unhelpful in this as the relevant books have all only the stupid snippet preview. Argh!

Used terms that refer back to my theory chapter: “specific parody” and “hostile parody”. Very good.
Which means I’ve really earned a nice bedtime story, haven’t I? 😉

Still not abducted by slimy green aliens ….

Contrary to certain rumours, no UFO has landed in our backyard (scaring the poor kois witless), and no horrid slimy, green aliens have dragged me away screaming and kicking (scaring the poor kois witless all over again). No, the kois were busy sunning themselves and making koi babies.

And moi? I’ve been busy with my uni job. Things are a bit tense at the moment thanks to the whole university reform that’s going on in Germany. This winter we’ll switch from our old system to the BA / MA system, and let me tell you, as always when politicians come up with brilliant ideas, it’s a real headache for the people actually involved in the whole mess. Duh.

On to more cheerful matters: a recent search on abebooks rendered some great finds for my PhD project: I’ve bought yet another edition of THE SEVEN CHAMPIONS OF CHRISTENDOM as well as another edition of WHERE THE RAINBOW ENDS. The latter was a children’s play written by Clifford Mills and John Ramsay, with music by Roger Quilter. It was first performed in the Christmas season 1911 and became an instant it. Indeed, it even rivalled PETER PAN in popularity. Both plays were regularly shown at Christmas, and generations of English children grew up with the story of Rosamund and Crispian Carey and their friends Jim and Betty Blunders, who travel to the land where the rainbow ends and defy the horrible Dragon King.

Ever since the plane with Rosamund and Crispian’s parents was lost, the two children have lived with their horrid aunt and uncle. But one day, Rosamund discovers a mysterious book, called “Where the Rainbow Ends”, in the library and reads:

Now whosoever shall read this book whose faith is strong and heart pure, will find ere they close its pages the way to the land where the rainbow ends. There blooms the flower of happiness which grows in no other clime, and here all lost loved ones found. […] Now all who would reach this fair land must first pass through the dread country of the Dragon, which bars the way – and herein many perils and dangers are encountered. Happy are they who early find Faith’s Magic Carpet to bear then [sic] safely on their way […]

With the help of a magic carpet and the genie that’s hidden in the carpet the Carey children enlist St. George as their champion before they fly away. In order to reach the land where the rainbow ends, they have to cross Dragon Wood, resist the lure of the boy Slacker, and fight their evil aunt and uncle. They are eventually taken prisoner by the Dragon King and his minions. But thanks to Rosamund’s quick thinking, they’re able to put together a somewhat crude flag of St. George which they fly over the ramparts of the Dragon King’s castle. With a bang and a clash and a blinding light, St George appears, fights against the Dragon King and finishes the villain off. While the stage is flooded with light, St. George shows the children the way to the land where the rainbow ends, where they are reunited with their parents.

Much to my delight I’ve recently not only found a CD with the music of WHERE THE RAINBOW ENDS but also the issue of the old theater magazine PLAY PICTORIAL in which the play is discussed. Whee! And YouTube, too, turns out to be a real treasure trove: here’s an interview with Valerie Langfield, the author of Quilter’s biography. If I’m not mistaken, the intro music is from WHERE THE RAINBOW ENDS:

Even more critics with a sense of humour

I’m still working on that dratted parody chapter for the PhD thingy (the end-of-semester hell is really bad if you want to get some other work done apart from corrections and exams … *roll eyes*), and now I’m reading Northrop Frye’s (btw, “Northrop” is not included in the Oxford University Press’s CONCISE DICTIONARY OF FIRST NAMES) ANATOMY OF CRITICISM (with a new foreword by Harold Bloom). While leafing through Frye’s “Polemical Introduction” I was happy to note that here again is a critic with a sense of humour:

Most critical efforts to handle such generic terms as “epic” and “novel” are chiefly interesting as examples of the psychology of rumor. Thanks to the Greeks [i.e. Aristotle], we can distinguish tragedy from comedy in drama, and so we still tend to assume that each is the half of drama that is not the other half. When we come to deal with such forms as the masque, opera, movie, ballet, puppet-play, mystery-play, morality, commedia dell’arte, and Zauberspiel, we find ourselves in the position of the Renaissance doctors who refused to treat syphilis because Galen said nothing about it.

Tee-hee. 🙂


I’ve been thinking for some time now about doing a podcast for my courses at uni. But — would anybody other than my students be interested in a British-history-in-9-weeks class? Or in a series of lectures on Thackeray?

And what about the name for such a podcast?


Literature for Everyone

Books, Cats, and Me

*scratching my head*

Second Degree Lit

Have I ever mentioned that I don’t particularly like literary theory? For the PhD thingie I have to write a chapter on parody, and what seemed to be relatively easy at first — give a definition of parody — turned out to be a walk through a field of quicksand. At the moment, I’m reading Gérard Genette’s PALIMPSESTS: LITERATURE IN THE SECOND DEGREE, and while I was sort of fine in chapters 1-7, he sort of lost me shortly thereafter. It does not really help that his examples are mostly taken from French literature, of which I know about zilch, nor that he is so, so fond of transgressions, nor that he is also fond of the phrase “We will come back to this point” / “More about this later” (argh!). It probably doesn’t help either that I’m reading Genette’s own work in translation. Look here: “For serious imitations we may borrow from ancient usage a term that is more or less synonymous with pastiche or with apocrypha but is also more neutral than its competitors. That term is forgery.” (???)

At least Monsieur Genette has got a sense of humour: in chapter 7 he gives a rough outline what he’ll be doing in the rest of his study, and finishes with: “Then it will be time to conclude and to put away our tools, for nights are chilly in this season.” 🙂