[DWJ] Dragon history question

Philip Belben philip at axeside.co.uk
Thu Jul 15 11:16:34 EDT 2010

First of all, thanks to everyone for the amazing range of answers on 
this topic!

All internet lists suffer from topic drift, but one thing I love about 
this list is that no matter how obscure the tangent at which it goes 
off, the discussion never ceases to be interesting.  Keep it up!

>> You know, this comment made me wonder how much of "goodness" attributed to
>> fantastical creatures is really old colonialist assumptions - i.e a dragon
>> is considered good when it does what humans tell it and doesn't violently
>> object to having its treasure stolen. ("This place would be so peaceful if
>> rabble-rousing outsiders didn't stir up our "good" subjects, who'd never
>> mind being used and oppressed otherwise!")

That's an aspect I hadn't considered, but it's related to something my 
brother said when I was discussing my original question with him: 
shouldn't we distinguish between a dragon that is evil, and one that is 
merely the enemy - either of humans in general, or of the humans who 
appen to be fighting it in that particular story...

> That's a theme (as far as I was concerned) of the recent animated film "How
> to Train Your Dragon" (which I highly recommend, btw). This is based on a
> series of books by the same name by Cressida Cowell - I've not read the
> books, so I can't comment on them.
> But I loved, loved, loved, loved the movie.

Oh my goodness.  I haven't seen the film (I am not a filmgoer - I would 
_always_ rather read the book!) but I have two or three of the books, 
and I hadn't seen that side of it at all!

Incidentally, I recommend the books.  With Cowell's own illustrations 
(in the style of Ronald Searle), which are the icing on the cake...

On the subject of colonial values, I think dragon stories mostly come 
from between Europe's two big "colonial" periods - the Roman Empire and 
the 16th to 19th centuries - but the crusades probably show that the 
colonial spirit didn't die in the meantime...


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