Next class, we’ll be doing our book clubs, so here’s my thoughts on the readings:
“The Duration of Life” by the Brothers Grimm is a sort of etiological story; it explains why man lives seventy years, and why it is that man endures certain stages as he ages. I’m sort of surprised I’ve never run across this from the Brothers Grimm because this is right up my alley, but I’m glad that this was chosen for one of the book clubs. Like I said, I’m interested in the etiological aspect of it because many myths/fairy tales/legends/etc. originate from a deep-rooted need to explain something. I found the ending particularly interesting, where it describes the stages of life in terms of the animals that “gave” the years to the human. (The dog comparison…yikes!) It’s been a really long time since I’ve read many of the Brothers Grimm tales, so I’m not certain if religion plays a large part in their tales; in fact, I wonder if this was really even meant to be a religious tale at all, but rather a metaphor. (The librarian in me itches to research this more, but I’ll refrain and see what other people have to say Thursday!)
“The Fisherman and His Wife” by the Brothers Grimm (an authorial trend…I love it!) was a completely different sort of tale. This answered my question up above; it seems like God does play a least some role in some of their tales. (Not surprising, considering the time they were written in.) This fairy tale was a sort of cautionary tale; don’t be greedy, and be content. The wife was never content, and the time in between getting what she wanted and then wanting the next bigger and better thing got shorter and shorter. Finally, when she asked to be God, the flounder took everything back they had gained. Each time the man asked for something else, the sea got more and more violent, until it was practically a hurricane on his last time out. If she just hadn’t asked to be God, she could have lived as Pope, but she just couldn’t be content with what she had, and she was punished for it. I love a good cautionary fairy tale!
“Parrot Land” in The Brazilian Fairy Book by Elsie Spicer Eells is another cautionary sort of tale, but is much more explicit about the advice it offers than the previous one: “be virtuous and you will prosper.” I found this tale interesting because I expected the guards to be punished in some way, but ultimately, this tale was about the virtuousness of the prince and how he unselfishly completed all the tasks so that he could get the parrot to heal his father. He could have taken a ruby-encrusted sword, a gold cage, or a strong horse but instead he took a plain sword, a small cage, and a weak horse. But that was okay, because once he returned home and the oil from the parrot healed his father, the cage was polished, the sword cleaned, and the horse healed. Because of the prince’s unselfish act, he was rewarded. Like I said, I find it interesting that the guards weren’t portrayed as antagonists; I suppose I’m used to fairy tales where there’s a clear protagonist and a clear antagonist, and this story didn’t have that clear antagonist; in fact, the guards, although having had the prince complete the tasks, were thankful to the prince and let him have the parrot. The story was all about the prince’s good actions and the ultimate “reward” of those actions, and so it was a different kind of fairy tale than I’m used to where the villains are punished.
“The Man Who Built Catan” by Adrienne Raphel describes Klaus Teuber and his board game, The Settlers of Catan. (Did anyone else feel themselves itching to get their hands on one?) I have to say, I feel a bit out of the loop because I can’t recall having heard of The Settlers of Catan. I think the premise is really interesting, and I enjoy the point that the article made that Catan can be played over and over again because it changes with every game (and with every player), while some videogames can’t be. (I’m still going to play KH2 over and over, but I think I can fit Catan somewhere in there, too.) What a brilliant mind Teuber has, though, that he can come up with some many board games; I always thought being a board game developer would be extremely difficult. I really liked how Teuber emphasized the social aspect of the game (as did the players interviewed) because I think that is a really important aspect of card and board games. (Think of how many Dungeons and Dragons tournaments there are!) People connect over all sorts of things, and Catan is something that has the ability to bring people together.
I’m getting excited for book clubs!