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RE: [mythsoc] Re: Guy Gavriel Kay's work

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  • Leelan Lampkins
    ... Beowulf has four main episodes. They are Breca, Grendel, Grendel s mother and the Dragon. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns was originally sold in four
    Message 1 of 5 , Jun 29, 2004
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      > > I like seeing how old stories are given new treatments. What follows
      >is
      > >one example that comes to mind.
      > > "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns" is a very strange retelling of
      > >"Beowulf". It is very intense and includes ALL of the episodes and
      > >characters of the ninth century story. The fun is picking out"who is
      >who"
      > >and "what is what".
      >
      >This is hardly the first reading that comes to my mind of "Dark Knight
      >Returns". But whatever, I suppose it can be made to fit "Beowulf" too.
      >(Is it just supposed to be the dragon scene, or what?)
      >
      >- David Bratman

      "Beowulf" has four main episodes. They are Breca, Grendel, Grendel's
      mother and the Dragon.
      "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns" was originally sold in four issues. They
      dealt with Two-Face, Mutant Leader, Joker and Superman.

      In the first episode, the hero contends with someone who was once a good
      friend, someone that had the same struggles that they had but who did not
      finish the race. In Breca's case, the race is literal. In Harvey Dent's or
      Two-Face's case, it is spiritual.

      In the second episode, the hero faces a monster. Beowulf faces Grendel
      and Batman faces the monstrous Mutant Leader. Beowulf tears Grendel's arm
      off. At the end of the second match, Batman breaks ML's arms and legs one
      by one.

      The third episode, the hero faces the mother of monsters. Beowulf tracks
      Grendel's mother to the bottom of a dark foul lake where he kills her after
      a terrible battle. Batman tracks the Joker's trail of sensless murder
      through a carnival where he defeats him deep within the Tunnel of Love where
      the Joker dies.

      The end comes when the hero faces the supernatural. Beowulf faces the
      Dragon and dies in victory. Batman faces Superman and kicks his butt but
      "dies" of a heart attack.

      There are differences in some small details. But on the whole they are
      the same story.

      Hrothgar's country is menaced by monsters that only Beowulf defeats.
      Commissioner Gordon's city is savaged criminals that only Batman can match.

      Unferth doubts Beowulf and tries to hinder him. The new commissioner not
      only doubts Batman but does her best to bring him in under arrest.

      Wiglaf stands beside Beowulf against the Dragon. Carrie Kelly takes
      Robin's place much earlier in the story but stands beside Batman even up to
      the battle with Superman.

      As I said, there are differences but the main details are there and in
      the right order. There is not much of a struggle to make the pieces
      correspond.

      And, I have to admitt, that I did enjoy seeing the Joker kill David
      Letterman, Paul Shaffer and Doctor Ruth. And the author of "Seduction of
      the Innocent", Fredric Wertham, was also killed in the persona of the
      Joker's doctor, Dr. Wolper, who also treated Harvey Dent. Both doctors had
      very unpleasant things to say about Batman.

      But the clue for me was that one word in "Beowulf", "aglaeca" which means
      both "hero" and "monster". Batman fits that to a "T". As a character he is
      very familiar to most Americans and possibly to many outside the States as
      well. Maybe as familiar as Beowulf was to his original audience. As such
      they are mythic in stature if not in reality. Batman is both hero and
      monster. A hero because he stands between the people and the monsters that
      threaten them. A monster because only a monster could be strong enough to
      fight another monster.

      -Leelan

      P.S. As for the Fionavar Tapestry, I will agree that Kay is clumsy in many
      ways. Some of the story is painful to get through. But his use of the
      Arthurian Cycle is for me the saving grace.

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