[DWJ] Dragon history question

Charlie Butler charles.hannibal at gmail.com
Wed Jul 14 05:58:15 EDT 2010


I sympathise with Roger and Minnow, being no fan of mawkishness, but there
is a significant difference between dragons and horses that tends to
invalidate the *Tough Guide* comparison, in that (tell it not in Gath)
dragons *don't actually exist*.

The comparison then has to be not with the habits of real dragons in the
wild, but with older fictional and mythical forms, as in Minnow's other
examples of vampires and werewolves. There I do think it's an interesting
question* *how far one's allowed to change or bend the rules regarding
mythical creatures. (Where such creatures actually form a sacred part of
some group's living belief system it's another ball game again, but that's
not what I'm intending to talk about here.)

Vampires seem to have been fairly pliable for a long time. Some can go out
in daylight, others can't - or get migraines, or sparkle for their pains.
Some drink human blood only; others make do with animal. Some have
reflections, some not. While we may or may not like particular decisions, a
tradition of allowing writers and film-makers some leeway appears to have
evolved. With other creatures, it's less clear-cut. I thought that JKR's
house-elves and DWJ's kobolds were both acceptable variants, for example.
But JKR's boggart? Not so much. It's not that the idea of a shape shifter
that takes the form of your worst fear is a bad one in itself, but it's so
different from the existing idea of a boggart that it breaks rather than
bends the rules. Nor have boggarts had the lengthy and various literary
exposure that would allow such a non-standard version to be absorbed into
tradition without indigestion. It bothers me that there are now millions of
people who think that JKR's version is what a boggart *is*.

Having said that, a well-established and seemingly-stable set of features
can sometimes be overturned by a sudden evolutionary leap, which is what
appears to have happened in the last decade with the appearance and spread
of fast zombies. Their success suggests that perhaps there was something
inadequate in a deadly menace with a top speed of 1.5mph.

Where dragons fit on this spectrum I'm not sure. My first thought would be
that the fact that writers are often in effect splicing western and oriental
types should allow them more flexibility than with more narrowly "sourced"
creatures, but I'm definitely open to persuasion.

Charlie


-- 
Website: www.charlesbutler.co.uk
Blog: http://steepholm.livejournal.com/


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