[DWJ] Dragon history question

Colin Fine colin at fine.me.uk
Wed Jul 14 03:39:58 EDT 2010


Philip Belben wrote:
> Hello all,
>
> On a completely different subject, dragons.
>
> European dragons are traditionally enemies of humans.  Sometimes 
> they're evil; sometimes just inimical because they don't care about 
> humans.
>
> Modern fantasy literature has a much wider variety of dragons.  They 
> come in all shapes and sizes, and range from evil to good, malevolent 
> to benevolent and all shades in between.
>
> My question is, when did dragons in Western fantasy start to lose 
> their evil stereotype?
>
> Some points on the timeline:  Two well-known dragon writers, Anne 
> McCaffery and Ursula le Guin, both started thinking about dragons in 
> the 1960s, with novels appearing at the end of the decade.  They both 
> extended the range of dragons, in different ways.
>
> Of the great innovators of modern fantasy, Tolkien was still writing 
> about a traditional inimical dragon in "The Hobbit" in 1937;  and 
> Nesbit's collection "The Last of the Dragons and Some Others" (early 
> 1920s I think) contains IIRC only inimical dragons.
>
> On the other hand, the dragon in Kenneth Grahame's "The Relctant 
> Dragon" (serialised 1898, book 1938) was a much friendlier character.
>
Voyage of the Dawn Treader, anyone? (I think I've got the right book)

Colin





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