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Sutcliff, Graf, Gardner/Grendel

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  • David Lenander
    Yes, Sutcliff did it before the others with _Sword at Sunset_ in 63. I kind of think that there was a historical Arthur in one or another of her earlier
    Message 1 of 11 , Aug 18, 2007
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      Yes, Sutcliff "did it" before the others with _Sword at Sunset_ in '63.

      I kind of think that there was a historical Arthur in one or another
      of her earlier children's historicals, like _The Lantern Bearers_ or
      something, but I can't remember them well enough and can't confirm
      anything with quick internet searching. She also did a more
      traditional, magical Arthurian treatment in the late 70s, early 80s.

      John Rateliff wrote:

      > Yes, the 'historical Arthur' was an interesting idea back when Mary
      > Stewart (and, I suppose, Rosemary Sutcliff) did it, following I think
      > in the footsteps of Mary Renault (whose own Arthurian book was left
      > unfinished at her death and destroyed by her partner, alas) with her
      > Theseus books. It got pretty wonky when Marion Zimmer Bradley took
      > her stab at it, and I've been heartily tired of its permutations
      > since about 1980. Give me the Arthur of high medieval romance every
      > time.

      See Oscar Wilde: "The Critic as Artist" for an earlier argument,
      simultaneously tongue-in-cheek and deadly serious.

      John Rateliff wrote:
      > I may be reading him wrong, but Graff seems to me to be suggesting,
      > with the Deconstructionists of the early 80s, that the quality of the
      > work of art doesn't matter, only the cleverness and profundity of the
      > critic. If so, I disagree.

      Hm. Thinking about _Grendel_ (by John Gardner) as a "darker" take on
      _Beowulf_, makes me think of the movie of that film, which the
      Rivendell Group loved when we watched it at the Uptown theater, and
      then discussed it and the book at Eleanor Arnason's nearby apartment,
      many years ago, now. It was animated in an unusual technique by some
      Australians, called _Grendel, Grendel, Grendel_, and really both
      faithful to Gardner's book and also somehow lighter and funnier. I
      found it at a video rental store some years ago in the children's
      department, but Claire (my then-grade schooler) was bored by it, and
      it lost something on the small screen.

      But, the thing I'm wondering is, how far was that movie an adaptation
      of _Beowulf_? I'm rather astonished that Grace (for instance) would
      feel that _B_ *could* be desecrated by some film treatment done
      today. I think that Baum's Oz has rather moved beyond that point as
      well, it's practically on the level of shared cultural heritage/story/
      myth, that like the Arthurian heritage is rather immune to this. I
      actually think that JRRT's _Hobbit_ is probably at that point
      (despite its continuing copyright), given its almost universal part
      of children's culture, not even so much via Tolkien's book (but that
      is pretty widely read in grade school and daycare), but in naming
      grade school rooms, the passing of "hobbit" into common parlance and
      understanding, even by those (few) who don't know the original story,
      and the Rankin-Bass film (ugh), etc. Look at Pat Murphy's retelling,
      which as far as I can see doesn't really respond to the original so
      much as simply retell or make use of the original, incidentally to
      doing some other things. This is also true of many of the Disney
      films, whether or not Mickey Mouse is permanently trademarked, or
      these films are copyrighted.

      I'm working on a paper on Peg Kerr's _Wild Swans_, in the course of
      which I've been interested in reader comments (on Amazon and other
      places) in which responses can vary depending upon whether the reader
      has read the Andersen story that Peg follows so carefully, or only
      vaguely relates the story to such mythic antecedents as the Celtic
      myth of the children turned into swans or the Grimm story of the
      brothers into geese, or appears ignorant of the references implicit
      in Kerr's text. I only recall one film treatment of the Wild Swans,
      done by Shirley Temple for her television series in the 50s, but I
      barely remember it. Does anyone know of any others?

      When I wrote my Mythcon paper on "Sir Orfeo," I did a lot of research
      into the Orpheus myth and (English) retellings (and then I wrote
      another paper on Barfield's "Orpheus," which gave me yet another
      perspective). I'm not sure that I could really complain that (as
      Grace does in her posting) that a new treatment is a different story
      presented as the "original" because really so much is encompassed in
      originals, and because they in turn retell so much that different
      retellings are simply providing different aspects or emphases that
      may have been included in the "original" or its "original" sources.
      At one point it seemed important to me that in "Sir Orfeo" the
      reteller changes the ending in the "original" myth. Then I found
      some arguments that 1) the myth we know actually retells and changes
      its original and/or 2) the existence of either ending has to include
      the opposite, and suddenly I realized that there was a lot of truth
      to that. Some of the recent MSA winners and finalists on the subjects
      of fairy tales and mythic antecedents suggest that there are poles or
      centers, clusters of story bits or that nevertheless can be
      recognized as different stories, whether "Cinderella" or "Sleeping
      Beauty" or "Rumpelstiltskin" even when they interact and result in
      "new" combinations. Of course, if we "read through" a text to some
      supposed original, and then ring changes on both the text and the
      antecedents to produce a new work, I suppose it's legitimate to argue
      that the new work is not the "true" text, even if the author of both
      is the same. Gaiman apparently suggested some of the departures from
      his book in the new film of _Stardust_, and apparently approves. I
      wonder how far he thinks this movie is "his" story. Of course, when
      you read the book it's hard not to be very aware of how much his
      story depends upon Lord Dunsany and William Morris and Hope Mirles
      and George MacDonald and .... Behind all of those writers are
      stories and myths reaching back much farther.



      David Lenander
      d-lena@...
      2095 Hamline Ave. N.
      Roseville, MN 55113

      651-292-8887
      http://www.umn.edu/~d-lena/RIVENDELL.html




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    • Bill West
      Sword at Sunset was the adult sequel to The Lantern Bearers . I went through every one of Sutcliff s boosk I could find as a kid and bought these as an
      Message 2 of 11 , Aug 18, 2007
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        "Sword at Sunset" was the adult sequel to "The Lantern Bearers".
        I went through every one of Sutcliff's boosk I could find as a kid
        and bought these as an adult.

        B.West


        ----- Original Message -----
        From: David Lenander
        To: Mythsoc e discussion list Mythsoc e discussion list
        Sent: Saturday, August 18, 2007 7:26 PM
        Subject: [mythsoc] Sutcliff, Graf, Gardner/Grendel


        Yes, Sutcliff "did it" before the others with _Sword at Sunset_ in '63.

        I kind of think that there was a historical Arthur in one or another
        of her earlier children's historicals, like _The Lantern Bearers_ or
        something, but I can't remember them well enough and can't confirm
        anything with quick internet searching. She also did a more
        traditional, magical Arthurian treatment in the late 70s, early 80s.



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Walkermonk@aol.com
        Hi David, I think you re mixing me and my posts up with someone else. Grace In a message dated 8/18/2007 10:48:22 P.M. Central Daylight Time, d-lena@umn.edu
        Message 3 of 11 , Aug 18, 2007
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          Hi David,

          I think you're mixing me and my posts up with someone else.

          Grace

          In a message dated 8/18/2007 10:48:22 P.M. Central Daylight Time,
          d-lena@... writes:

          I'm not sure that I could really complain that (as
          Grace does in her posting) that a new treatment is a different story
          presented as the "original" because really so much is encompassed in
          originals, and because they in turn retell so much that different
          retellings are simply providing different aspects or emphases that
          may have been included in the "original" or its "original" sources.







          ************************************** Get a sneak peek of the all-new AOL at
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          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Berni Phillips
          From: David Lenander ... When/where will you be delivering this paper? Can we hope to see it at next year s Mythcon? I thought her book
          Message 4 of 11 , Aug 19, 2007
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            From: "David Lenander" <d-lena@...>
            >
            > I'm working on a paper on Peg Kerr's _Wild Swans_, in the course of
            > which I've been interested in reader comments (on Amazon and other
            > places) in which responses can vary depending upon whether the reader
            > has read the Andersen story that Peg follows so carefully, or only
            > vaguely relates the story to such mythic antecedents as the Celtic
            > myth of the children turned into swans or the Grimm story of the
            > brothers into geese, or appears ignorant of the references implicit
            > in Kerr's text.

            When/where will you be delivering this paper? Can we hope to see it at next
            year's Mythcon? I thought her book was brilliant and I would love to see
            your paper on it.

            Berni
          • Cole Matson
            Grace writes:
            Message 5 of 11 , Aug 20, 2007
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              Grace writes:

              <<I think you're mixing me and my posts up with someone else.>>

              Re: the "new treatment is a different story presented as the 'original'"
              complaint that David quotes: Maybe he meant me? If so, I just complain when
              new treatments which are different stories *are* presented as the original.
              For example, someone who had never read BEOWULF might, from the current
              trailer (which I finally saw in a theatre today), think the Angelina Jolie
              version is the actual story. The trailer has no "based on the story of," or
              "an adaptation of," or "the director's re-envisioning of" (though you can
              get that last one if you go to the movie's website). On the other hand, no
              one who sees WEST SIDE STORY is going to think they're seeing Shakespeare's
              ROMEO AND JULIET. It's based on the story, of course, but it doesn't claim
              to be showing the exact story Shakespeare wrote. (Changing the title was one
              clue it was a new version of the story, though much closer to the original
              than Zemeckis' BEOWULF seems to be.)

              But David did make a good point: When I think the "original" Beowulf or the
              "original" Romeo & Juliet, I'm thinking of the versions I first read in
              school, which are both adaptations of older material. And since I like both
              my "original" Beowulf and "original" R&J, I therefore like adaptations. I
              already knew this, of course, seeing as there are adaptations of novels that
              I like (e.g. the Broadway show of Les Miserables).

              So I wonder: What makes a good adaptation? A couple other people have stated
              that capturing the spirit of the source material is more important than
              following the plot point-by-point, though that doesn't mean the adaptor
              should take free rein with the plot. I agree.

              I would also add that the most beloved characters should stay the same as
              much as possible. This seems to me one of the main issues people take with
              Jackson's film. (Oh no! Not the "J" word again!:-)) I enjoyed the most
              recent movie adaptation of Les Miserables, with Liam Neeson and Geoffrey
              Rush, up until the point where Valjean (played by Neeson) hits Cosette. I
              almost yelled out in the middle of the theatre. Valjean would NEVER hit
              Cosette, and the fact that he did in the movie immediately made me doubt
              whether the filmmakers had really gotten the book. Additionally, I think I
              got angry when I first saw the BEOWULF trailer because of two things: They
              added sex where it was not needed (a touchy issue for me, in my years of
              fighting against Freud-as-literary-critic professors), and they made a good
              guy bad (King Hrothgar). When I love a book, I grow to love its characters,
              and it pains me to see them and their moral characters maligned in
              adaptations. (I'm sure others here can empathize.)

              Cole


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Walkermonk@aol.com
              Hi Cole, I believe what you wrote, as quoted below. And believing that, I have to ask: why then are you defending Jackson? Seeing what he did to --and this
              Message 6 of 11 , Aug 21, 2007
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                Hi Cole,

                I believe what you wrote, as quoted below. And believing that, I have to ask:
                why then are you defending Jackson? Seeing what he did to --and this isn't a
                full list of course -- Frodo, Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, Faramir, Eowyn,
                Denethor, Gandalf, and I could go on but will not at the moment (although I can, oh
                yes, my precious, I can) and I can also provide very specific instances in the
                movies v. the book in case you've forgotten with the passage of time, and then
                reading what you've written, I must say, I don't understand your continued, at
                times strident, defense of someone who did the very thing you say you don't
                like.

                Grace Walker Monk


                In a message dated 8/20/2007 10:01:48 PM Central Daylight Time,
                ccematson@... writes:

                I would also add that the most beloved characters should stay the same as
                much as possible. This seems to me one of the main issues people take with
                Jackson's film. (Oh no! Not the "J" word again!:-))





                ************************************** Get a sneak peek of the all-new AOL at
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              • Lynn Maudlin
                ... have stated ... An interesting adaptation of MACBETH is the film SCOTLAND, PA - it doesn t use Shakespeare s language but it really does a good job of
                Message 7 of 11 , Aug 21, 2007
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                  --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "Cole Matson" <ccematson@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > So I wonder: What makes a good adaptation? A couple other people
                  have stated
                  > that capturing the spirit of the source material is more important than
                  > following the plot point-by-point, though that doesn't mean the adaptor
                  > should take free rein with the plot. I agree.

                  An interesting adaptation of MACBETH is the film SCOTLAND, PA - it
                  doesn't use Shakespeare's language but it really does a good job of
                  capturing the character, personalities, and themes... if you've not
                  seen i, consider renting it on DVD (I bought it).
                • David Emerson
                  ... Second that. It seems a more reasonable approach to classics is to retell the story, retaining character, personalities, and themes , rather than drag the
                  Message 8 of 11 , Aug 22, 2007
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                    >An interesting adaptation of MACBETH is the film SCOTLAND, PA - it
                    >doesn't use Shakespeare's language but it really does a good job of
                    >capturing the character, personalities, and themes... if you've not
                    >seen it, consider renting it on DVD (I bought it).

                    Second that.

                    It seems a more reasonable approach to classics is to retell the story, retaining "character, personalities, and themes", rather than drag the old story kicking and screaming into the present day. _Scotland, PA_ is one such example, _Clueless_ and _West Side Story_ have already been mentioned on this thread.

                    If one were to do that with _Beowulf_, it might be a story about a hit man for the mob, protecting the Godfather's turf from incursions by rogue gangsters. Or a shoot-from-the-hip CIA agent dealing with a terrorist threat. Or a Wall Street drama about a hostile takeover. But not a big guy with a sword wrestling underwater monsters.

                    emerdavid

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                  • John D Rateliff
                    ... The Ian McKellan translation of RICHARD THE THIRD into Nazi-era alternate-world England was also extremely effective, though it belongs to a somewhat
                    Message 9 of 11 , Aug 22, 2007
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                      On Aug 22, 2007, at 7:14 AM, David Emerson wrote:
                      > It seems a more reasonable approach to classics is to retell the
                      > story, retaining "character, personalities, and themes", rather
                      > than drag the old story kicking and screaming into the present
                      > day. _Scotland, PA_ is one such example, _Clueless_ and _West Side
                      > Story_ have already been mentioned on this thread.

                      The Ian McKellan translation of RICHARD THE THIRD into Nazi-era
                      alternate-world England was also extremely effective, though it
                      belongs to a somewhat different category than those you mention.

                      > If one were to do that with _Beowulf_, it might be a story about a
                      > hit man for the mob, protecting the Godfather's turf from
                      > incursions by rogue gangsters. Or a shoot-from-the-hip CIA agent
                      > dealing with a terrorist threat. Or a Wall Street drama about a
                      > hostile takeover. But not a big guy with a sword wrestling
                      > underwater monsters.

                      It would be interesting, at least, to see BEOWULF done as an old-
                      style sci-fi movie, with some alien creature menacing an airlocked
                      colony on the moon or another planet, a la FORBIDDEN PLANET's re-
                      visioning of THE TEMPEST. Cheesy, perhaps, but less annoying that
                      what we've been getting with BEOWULF AND GRENDEL and, I suspect, the
                      new BEOWULF as well.

                      --JDR
                    • Jeremy Edmonds
                      ... I heartily recommend reading THE LEGACY OF HEOROT by Niven, Pournelle and Barnes as a (cheesy perhaps) SF take on the Beowulf legend. I would certainly
                      Message 10 of 11 , Aug 22, 2007
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                        --- John D Rateliff <sacnoth@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > It would be interesting, at least, to see BEOWULF done as an old-
                        > style sci-fi movie, with some alien creature menacing an airlocked
                        > colony on the moon or another planet, a la FORBIDDEN PLANET's re-
                        > visioning of THE TEMPEST. Cheesy, perhaps, but less annoying that
                        > what we've been getting with BEOWULF AND GRENDEL and, I suspect, the
                        > new BEOWULF as well.
                        >

                        I heartily recommend reading THE LEGACY OF HEOROT by Niven, Pournelle and
                        Barnes as a (cheesy perhaps) SF take on the Beowulf legend. I would certainly
                        like to see it make into a film, as you say.

                        Jeremy
                      • David Emerson
                        ... Yes. I was thinking more like what somebody else already mentioned -- _Forbidden Planet_ as a re-telling of THE TEMPEST. (Odd, isn t it, how RICHARD THE
                        Message 11 of 11 , Aug 22, 2007
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                          >> It seems a more reasonable approach to classics is to retell the
                          >> story, retaining "character, personalities, and themes", rather
                          >> than drag the old story kicking and screaming into the present
                          >> day. _Scotland, PA_ is one such example, _Clueless_ and _West Side
                          >> Story_ have already been mentioned on this thread.
                          >
                          >The Ian McKellan translation of RICHARD THE THIRD into Nazi-era
                          >alternate-world England was also extremely effective, though it
                          >belongs to a somewhat different category than those you mention.

                          Yes. I was thinking more like what somebody else already mentioned -- _Forbidden Planet_ as a re-telling of THE TEMPEST.

                          (Odd, isn't it, how RICHARD THE THIRD, among all Shakespeare plays, seems most easily adaptable to almost any time & place. I saw a production in London about 10 years ago that set it among gangsters in the East End. Richard comes on and delivers his "Naow is da winnah of ow' discontent made glaurius summah..." in Cockney accent and it takes off from there.)

                          emerdavid

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