fire and hemlock people

minnow at minnow at
Wed Aug 24 06:17:24 EDT 2005

>Hallie said of F and H
><This is without even beginning to look
>at the Odyssey and East of the Sun, West of the
>Moon, The Snow Queen
>and all the many other rich joys of F&H!>

and Ven replied:

>The Odyssey? East of the Sun West of the Moon? I
>have a glimmering of what you mean but would you
>care to unpack please? The Snow Queen I get but,
>durrrr... it's only now that I see it's resonance
>with Tam Linn  -- probably my low opinion of HCA
>getting in the way.

What, you too?  I never really got on with HCA as
a child: he seemed to veer between mawkish and
cruel, and I actively preferred the older stories
in which the cruelty was at least Villainous.  I
*hated* the Ugly Duckling[1], and the Little Tin
Soldier made me furious, and the Little Mermaid
was simply nasty.  And the casual nastiness of
even the helpful person, the little robber girl,
in the Snow Queen made me feel that the whole
thing was slimy.  I used to dive back into Grimm
and Perrault and the Coloured Fairy Books with a
feeling of relief.

Has anyone else here ever encountered Lawrence
Housman's "fairy stories", of which we had one
book called *A Doorway to Fairyland*?  (I think
there are at least two others.)  If one wanted
"modern" stories of the fairytale kind, what I
suppose are now fantasy-for-children genre with
magic and a storyline that makes sense, and in
which there was some benefit to doing one's best
and trying to get things right, I'd go for those
over HCA any old day of the week, and even Walter
de la Mare's rather frightening *The Lord Fish
and Other Stories* wasn't -- oh, enjoying
unfairness the way HCA does.  *That's*
what put me off him.  His protagonists are left
crushed altogether too often, and not because
they really deserve it but just because the
author isn't even slightly on their side.  He
doesn't appear to like his people, not one bit
he doesn't, and what's the good in that?  Bah.

*East of the Sun and West of the Moon* is the
Norse version of Cupid and Psyche, isn't it, or
something along those lines?  We had it in a
book by Sir George Dasent called *Tales from the
Norse*, so I may have been confused by that.
I can see EotSaWotM fitting very well into F&H:
the girl makes the mistake of trying to find out
too much at the wrong moment, and then has to do
three impossible tasks before breakfast for
several months in order to get back to where she

Not sure about the Odyssey though.
C'mon, Hallie!


[1] I liked I think it was G. B. Sterne's
retelling of the Ugly Duckling as "The Ugly
Dachshund", though, because it was told with
affection for the dog in question.  Maybe HCA
has suffered from really bad translation or

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